Monday, July 14, 2014

Body Image in the Media (30 Days of July, 2014: Day 14)

*Pictures of Victoria's Secrets models below. Read this post when you are away from children, and husbands!!!*

That is the moral of this post. I could simply stop here and say goodnight, but what fun would that be?!?

One reason I'm really glad that I don't have cable TV is because I don't have to see commercials focusing on a woman's body. In today's world, women are pressured to have the perfect body. If you don't look like a Victoria's Secret model, something is wrong with you; you're not considered beautiful and are looked down upon by society.

This ad says it's a collection called "I Love My Body".  I would love my body if I looked like this! I might even walk around the house in only my underwear if my body was this perfect...well, when Brandon was asleep anyway!! Here is a perfect example of what society thinks we should all look like. What a ridiculous and unrealistic ad. Not only do most of us NOT look like this, but it makes us feel like CRAP when this is thrown in our face and we DON'T look like this!

I have struggled with my weight for years. My senior year of high school I lost 20 pounds. That's my first memory of loosing weight. In my early 20's, after my first divorce, I lost 70 pounds and was in the best shape of my life. I had Brandon in my late 20's, and have struggled to loose, and keep off the weight since that time. Unfortunately my confidence in how I look depends on what number is on the scale and what size of clothing I wear. I have a feeling I'm not the only woman who has this same problem.

(Is it just me, or are these two models nowhere CLOSE to being considered "plus size"?)

When I'm heavier, I have to shop in the "plus size" section of the store, which makes me want to puke. The average dress size for an American woman is 14. Why do "plus sizes" start at 16, and why do stores have to separate the sections out? It's beyond embarrassing, and it makes me dread shopping even more. It puts a target on my back and lets everyone know that I'm the fat girl looking for clothes. It's even more embarrassing when you're at a store that doesn't sell anything that's considered "plus size", or when there is a "plus size" section, but it only has a few items to choose from.  The last way they slap you in the face is by having models who are in wonderful shape model the "plus size" clothes, like in the picture above. Thanks. I already feel horrible about how I look, but now I feel even worse. Over the past few years, stores have begun to realize that most women aren't pencil thin, (IMAGINE THAT!) and have expanded their "plus size" sections so that there actually is a selection, but I still don't agree with the separation of the sizes. All it does is continue to drive the body image problems by reminding society that some people are heavier than others and they aren't thin enough to shop in the same area as the skinny people. ENOUGH WITH "PLUS SIZE" SECTIONS!

Another way society demands women to be pencil thin is by showing us magazine covers that CONSTANTLY talk about celebrities who lost TONS of weight after having a baby. The "Body After Baby" issue is always right around the corner whenever a celebrity has a baby.

I have many problems with this. First of all, these people are rich. They can afford a personal trainer, a cook, and a nanny (so they can sleep through the night). I would be stunned if celebrities DIDN'T have their bodies back quickly with all the resources that are available to them! If I had access to a personal trainer, and a cook, I'd be 60 pounds lighter in 3 months too! This is the wrong message to send to women. We think that because they did it, we can too. Maybe we can, but it's very unrealistic and once 3 months has come, we get frustrated and often stop trying. Remember celebrities have MONEY. They probably don't work 10 hours a day only to come home and take care of a house and a family!

Technology has not helped women with their body images. Photoshop is one of the most destructive forces for a woman's self esteem. It drives into our head that everyone looks perfect except us. I forget when I see celebrities in magazines that their image has probably been photoshopped. So even the Victoria's Secret models aren't perfect before this technique is applied to their pictures! Remembering this makes me feel just a little better.

Most often you'll see this software used to help wrinkles and beauty marks on the faces in magazines magically disappear! See if you can spot the changes in the celebrity pictures below:

Look at Gwen's face. The "bags" under her eyes are gone; the small "mole" on her cheek has been removed; her chin has been altered, and her entire complexion has changed.

Even with hardly any makeup in both shots, they've managed to make Tyra look completely different. Her eye color is different; no "bags" under her eyes; and what looks like a small vein running down her forehead has been removed.

The same changes have been made with Alicia. Makeup was added, a freckle on her forehead was removed, and her complexion is now darker.

Again, head straight for the eyes. Penelope has had "bags" removed. Lines around her mouth and nose are gone, and her complexion now has a smoother look. It looks like even her hand was changed!

I saved this next picture for last because I couldn't believe how much it was altered.

If this model had been put in clothing that was flattering to her body to begin with, there would've been no need for changes! She is a beautiful woman. In regards to the changes: clearly her abdomen and "pooch" were taken away; they also made her thighs thinner. What I appreciate about her before picture is that she looks like an "every day" woman. We have rolls and pooches. Our thighs are a little chunkier. Her before picture makes me feel better about myself!

Do you wonder if the picture altering takes away from the celebrities/models self esteem at all? If I were the woman in the last picture, it might bother me.

I ask you this:  were the changes in any of these pictures necessary? Were these women ugly before photoshop was applied? NO, NO THEY WERE NOT!

How do we change this? No more photoshopping on pictures would be a great place to start. If celebrities/models/publishers/the public can't handle pictures of people with all their flaws, then don't take the pictures, publish the magazines, or buy them from the store. We need to be reminded that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE WAY WE LOOK!

A few years ago DOVE launched a FABULOUS campaign to help shed light on the wrong message that is being sent out to women everywhere. Using the Victoria's Secret photo from above, here's the new message they were trying to spread:

REAL BEAUTY. REAL WOMEN. The ladies on the bottom are what much more of us look like. We have curves and hips. We aren't pencil thin. Our thighs are larger....BUT WHO CARES?!?

A few days ago, a singer named Colbie Caillat (who I'd never heard of) posted a new video for her song "Try". She was tired of being photoshopped, and wrote this song with that in mind. I've posted the lyrics below.


Put your makeup on/get your nails done/curl your hair/run the extra mile/keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on/don't be shy girl/take it off/this is what you want, to belong, so they like you/do you like you?

You don't have to try so hard/you don't have to, give it all away/you just have to get up, get up, get up, get up/you don't have to change a single thing/you don't have to try, try, try, try

Get your shopping on/at the mall/max your credit cards/you don't have to choose, buy it all, so they like you/do they like you? Wait a second/why should you care/what they think of you/when you're all alone/by yourself, do you like you?


Take your makeup off/let your hair down/take a breath/look into the mirror, at yourself/don't you like you? Cause I like you


These are all messages that will help change the way the media views women. But let's face it, this has been the way we've been seen since photographs and television were invented; so unfortunately this isn't going to change any time soon.

I fight with my body image every day. I don't think I will be winning this fight in the near future. I try each day, but this idea has been planted deep into my brain. It will take more than positive phrases like the two below to help me learn to love my body no matter what it looks like.

1 comment:

  1. i love this! the victoria secret models in my opinion look on the verge of anorexic, now im not saying they look bad, if someone looks like that naturally its fine, but they look as if they have been on unnecessary diets to get to a below average weight which shouldn't ever be applauded