Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Body Image: GotYA goes natural for a cause

First, we saw this post on Steph Bowe’s blog:


And then this one on Kaitlin Ward’s blog:


And we cheered. Why? Because the topic of body image is unbelievably important to the health of both girls and boys, women and men. A positive body image can take you a long way toward feeling satisfied with your life. A negative one? Not so much. It kills self-esteem, which according to mental health professionals, can lead to a slew of other problems: depression, self-mutilation, unsafe sexual activity, eating disorders, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Yet the media continues to flaunt their doctored photos, making bodies that are already unrealistic for most of us that much more unattainable. I mean, something is dreadfully wrong when even Jessica Alba can’t measure up to the ad execs’ whacked out standards:

Or Britney Spears (who we give kudos to for publicizing her before-and-after photos for the Candie’s ads):

Or how about the Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix movie poster debacle? Tell us, what kind of message does changing Emma Watson’s bustline and waist send to tween girls? We’re pretty sure Hermione would NOT approve:

And finally, singer Faith Hill’s Redbook cover scandal. Thank you, Faith, for being so up front and outspoken about the photo-doctoring that went on. Heaven forbid a 39-yr-old have a hint of crow’s feet or a less-than-stick-like arm:

Are we worried about the role the media plays in shaping the body awareness of young girls and boys? You bet. Study after study has showed that girls who look at magazine photos of models and actresses have lower body satisfaction afterwards.

Here are some thought-provoking—and scary—stats.

** 20 years ago, the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today’s models weigh 23% less (National Women’s Health Resource Center)

** Two-thirds of underweight 12-yr-old girls considered themselves to be too fat.

** 50% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their appearance

** By 17, the number of girls who are unhappy with their reflection jumps to 78% (all above from Harvard University study, cited by Social Issues Research Centre, sirc.org)

** 80% of 10-yr-old girls diet (justthink.org)

** 35% of “normal” dieters go on to become pathological dieters, and 20-25% of those will end up with a diagnosable eating disorder syndrome (Journal of Eating Disorders)

And possibly the saddest stat of all:

The number one magic wish for girls aged 11-17 was to be thinner. (Just Think Foundation’s Body Image Project by Holzgang)

Do you see the problem yet?

This is not okay. This will ever be okay. By all means, yes, be as healthy as you can—eat a variety of nutritious foods and exercise. But there are so many other, more enjoyable, worthwhile things to concentrate on than just your appearance. Or the appearances of models and actresses, appearances that are apparently made up of smoke and mirrors more often than we think.

So a huge BOO to the media! We want truth in advertising. We want real men and women, real boys and girls, with their real bodies and faces. No more worshipping at the altar of airbrushing and computer tricks. Let’s get comfortable in our own skin, realize that people come in a wonderful variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. And that appearance is just one of many, many aspects that makes you YOU. By accepting your appearance, learning to like it, even, you can move on to other, more important things—like your badass debate skills, or your courage at standing up to peer pressure, or your awesome tennis backhand.

We’re taking a step in that direction here. We’re following in YA Highway member
Kaitlin’s footsteps by posting our own photos, au natural. We’re going to accept ourselves as we are, and we’d love for you to do the same. Let’s all be positive role models for each other.

P.S. We love this commercial from Dove (even if their parent company does own Axe):

In parting, here are a few links we think you might enjoy:

About Face

Fighting to change distorted images of women in the media

Body Positive

Helping people to have a positive body image at any weight

Mind on the Media

Fostering critical anaylsis of media messages

New Moon Magazine (no, nothing to do with sparkly vamps)

A magazine for girls without advertising or articles on superficial beauty, dieting, etc.

So, tell us--do you think the media plays a role in body image and self-esteem?


Laura McMeeking said...

Great post!! I have to say that I STILL complain about being too fat, and I'm definitely not a teen anymore. Luckily, I married someone who appreciates me just the way I am.

Kaitlin Ward said...

You girls are all beautiful <3

Holly Dodson said...

BRAVO! Excellent post! I certainly agree the media plays havoc on even adult's body image and it needs to stop.

Jamie B said...

Deb, you're awesome. Thank you for this post. I wish I had gotten a photo to you, but I slacked off that past week. Your post says so much and just when my 8 year old daughter came home crying yesterday saying that she's being teased and called Tubby. Let me tell you, she's not. She's about 6 inches taller than all the other boys and girls, and naturally bigger than them. She pointed to her Hannah Montana poster and said even Hannah is skinnier than her. That poster will be burned. Disney isn't even safe with Demi Lavato and Selena Gomez staring in sexy music videos. Why can't our girls be girls and not sex symbols who obsess about weight, hair, clothes, etc.? I'm at the point of banning TV!

J.S. Wood said...

I'm on the other end of the spectrum. My eleven year old is teased because she's too skinny. They call her bird and say she eats seeds. She complains about being underweight, even the damn Wii Fit told her she's four pounds underweight. Four pounds? Seriously? She's healthy, so who cares what a scale says. And that is what I think is important - health.

My roommate, who was a runway model in Europe, always fussed about the media and it's impact on society. She said we are all beautiful but one major problem is that as a country, we don't want to watch normal people on TV and see normal girls in magazines. That's perhaps the saddest of all.

Becca Rogers said...

LOVE this! I've never understood why anyone has to feel like they need to be toothpick-thin to look good. That's why I love the actors/singers/etc. that stand up and say they're proud of the way their body looks, and that they're healthy. We need more people like them, IMO.

Holen said...

Yes, the media plays a role, but I think mothers play an even bigger role. When our girls hear us complain about our looks, we're reinforcing everything that commercials tell them.

Debra Driza said...

Holen, that's a good point, and actually one that it's in the post for my own blog (which isn't up yet, sigh.) It's something that I think about constantly now that I have a daughter. But I also think we can't insulate our kids from our culture, and it makes it an uphill battle for everyone.

Lisa_Gibson said...

Great message to send to both girls AND boys! It's important to realize that these messages go to boys too and they need to understand the industry is shaping their version of beauty too. My son needs to understand that women are airbrushed, redone, etc to the point that the images portrayed are not realistic in most cases. Great post!

Jessie said...

Fantastic post! I hope girls out there are reading it. You can't hear it often enough about how unrealistic media & Hollywood's expectations of beauty are. My hubby & I are so careful not to discuss weight in front of our girls so that they don't learn the social conformity from us. and yet at dinner the other night, my 4 year old told me her belly was fat. I think she just wanted to get out of finishing dinner, but still, I almost cried.

Kate Hart said...

Nice post girls. Lovely pictures and great message.

Sumayyah said...

This is a fabulous post. This is why I love strange cartoons. Nobody wants to look like a cartoon (most people don't) so I never feel like eating lots of ice cream or anything. :p Or I could just be strange...

Krista Ashe said...

Great post, Deb, and great convo's guys. I think society does a great diservice to young men and women everywhere. I think it's about time we did the Albert Finney go to the windows and yell, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore!!" I think there just needs to be some kinda backlash where the media finally gets it. Like when People magazine had an article on eating disorders and halfway through the magazine they were dissing an actress for gaining 5lbs UGH!

CoachMT said...

Great post. As the father of two daughters, I appreciate both sides of this. We want our kids to be healthy, but everyone needs to be realistic in their goals and perceptions.

Men and boys are not immune to this either. Relating to our topic/passion: think about book covers you've seen recently. That impossibly hot guy that the impossibly hot girl is fondling has had his share of airbrushing too. And it's demoralizing for us guys to look at as the girl is to other girls. Granted, it's not as prevalent by any stretch, but this "perfection" myth we perpetuate in our society has to change.

Sarah said...

That pics post shower about five minutes. I didn't even brush my hair for ya'll!

Wow. My GotYA ladies are super gorgeous.

Shveta said...

Gorgeous, strong women in this post. :) I love it. You can wear makeup or not wear makeup, but your beauty is there, either way.

I just wish we could convince all girls and boys of this. . .

Bee said...

You girls are gorgeous :))

I made a similar post on my blog with an au natural photo, too.

Debra Driza said...

Bee--yay! Feel free to link to it in our comments--and anyone else who posted on the subject! :)

Amy Kathleen Ryan said...

Great post! I'm WAY BEYOND my teen years, but I still feel like a schlub when I see those "perfect" thighs. The media should play fair!

Kathleen Wall said...

This is a great post. Gorgeous photos!

My niece is in her early teens and thinks she's fat. Why? Because her friends tell her she is. Some friends! I hope she stays as strong mentally as physically b/c it's tough to withstand that kind of peer pressure and media's influence at the same time.

Jennifer Walkup said...

Great, great post. So important!

Rachele Alpine said...

I love that you guys all took a picture! I posted my own on my blog today and linked to all you girls!

kanishk said...

You girls are all beautiful
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marissaburt said...

Thanks for this. That Dove ad just about made me cry. I'm the mother of boys, and - for their sakes as well - I think it's crucial we stop this obsession for the next generation.

Good words, girls.