I am an advocate for positive body image. I am also finally to that point in life where I am trying harder to accept and love myself, focusing more on heath than on vain changes. It’s not easy and I have my good days and bad days, but I am trying. In my pursuit of body acceptance, I have become more aware of my surroundings and the messages I am fed. Unfortunately, the industry I work in and love might be one of the things to blame.
In media, we are presented with an image of how a very small percentage of the world looks. There is probably 1% of the population that actually has that perfect look for TV, catwalk or the pages of magazine and the rest seem to spend their entire lives trying to achieve something that might not be naturally possible. If we are healthy and look after our bodies, does it matter that we do not fit into this so called ideal mold?
Recently on a morning program, they showed a segment of a woman in San Francisco who had taken photos of herself in underwear with the words “ Be Beautiful” written somewhere on her body and posted these images on line. This woman mentioned that her body type was not represented in the media and other women had written to her saying they felt the same. A news show that presents segments like this is doing good by giving this material to a wider audience, but at the same time, most faces on TV fit into the ‘ideal’ mold of appearance that many will never achieve. The interesting thing is that there is an imbalance of the sexes when it comes to TV personalities. It seems that we promote average looking men for their talents and not looks but when it comes to women, they not only have to have talent, but looks as well. When was the last time you saw an average looking woman on your screen?
The fashion industry has famously come under fire with its use of sickly thin models. Over the years we have seen the introduction of the “plus size industry” but whilst trying to do good and promote “larger” women on the catwalk, it has also worked against the cause by even calling them “larger” or “plus size.” These labels are isolating, creating an ‘other,’ not integrating all sizes of women into one space. Why do we need make such a differentiation between size 8 and 12? Can’t we walk side by side ( or in a model’s case in front of each other down the catwalk)?
Have you picked up a gossip mag these days? If you are trying to boost your self-confidence I urge you not to. Yes, once again there is the occasional “plus size” model ( which they then think deserve a medal for ) but still predominantly these mags show size 8 – 10, tall and slender beautiful women. The scariest thing about this is that many of these mags are aimed at a younger audience who might not have the emotional intelligence to rationalize or see what is being done and what harmful messages are being fed.
What about the Internet? There is definitely more room for “average” people to be promoted in a positive light on the World Wide Web, but I did however come across a recent article title, “The Worst Celebrity Beach Bodies.” After clicking through images, I struggled to see how these bodies were “the worst” and cringed at the thought of these normal, average bodies being labelled in such a degrading way.
And don’t get me started on advertising – a world where every product is sold by trying to make us feel that we are inadequate, need to have less wrinkles, less fat and cellulite, better clothes and better hair. These products are sold by convincing us we are not good enough without them. Sometimes this encourages us to shop more, but most of the time it leaves us feeling inadequate and feeling we need to change.
And last but definitely not least we have social media or what we could call the modern brag book. I am a fan of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, however I have never seen someone post a bad or unflattering photo of themselves. Instead, we have created another avenue to compare ourselves with a modified version of each other.
It seems to me that the same society that is supposedly trying to help us get our confidence back and love ourselves is also delivering the harmful and negative messages. It’s an unfair world we live in and sometimes we might need to tune out of our surroundings and tune into our own minds and bodies. What do you think about your body away from these messages? What parts of your body do you love? If you never had to look in a mirror or post a photo to Facebook, how would you feel about yourself? If we were shown different images of average, everyday bodies from all walks of life, how would we feel about our own? If you saw your body type represented in the media, would it make you feel more at ease?
We are all unique and different and beautiful for that. So why then do we live in a society that wants us to confirm to a particular type of look or keep up with a so called “trend”? If we all looked the same, wouldn’t it be boring? Embrace uniqueness and individuality and love yourself for what you have, not what you don’t.