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How do you guys feel about the way that females are portrayed in the media today? I believe it has improved a great deal over the past decade or so with awareness campaigns, more awareness about photoshopping, and more real-looking models. This TED Talk sheds light on a lot of issues related to the modeling industry:
What can we do as girls do improve our self-esteem?? If being a model is the top .001% of the world, then what do the rest of us do who feel the pressure to live up to that standard? How do you all get comfortable in your skin?? HELP!
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21 Replies to “Body Image!!!!”
I love love love this TED talk. I feel like from a young age so many of us have this image of “what is good enough” put into our heads. And then comes the fear and the worry that I know very well. Am I good enough? Pretty enough? Smart enough? When I get a compliment it is soo hard to believe it. But I know that a simple thank you to those “you look so great today” is a simple step to building that confidence to believe it. And even more than that keep telling myself even in sweat pants and no make up on that I am enough.
There’s recently been some backlash on the internet against photoshopped photos. The beauty of them is that they show that even the .001% have “flaws,” and they blatantly call into question our standards for women. (You can see something about untouched photos of Cindy Crawford here and Beyonce here. While this widespread questioning of the practice of photoshopping is a step in the right direction, more needs to be done. Too much is expected of women and girls– they have to be smart enough to compete academically, good looking enough to be considered feminine, and “cool” enough to form friendships and relationships. While we need to continue chipping away at these over-expectations at an institutional level, how do we deal on a day-to-day basis?
I believe females are portrayed in the media in a way that puts an enormous amount of pressure on women to look a certain way. The women who we idolize are in the media are often portrayed in a way that does not depict their real selves. They are photoshopped and edited to the point where we see no flaws, and young girls feel pressured to look a certain way that is ultimately impossible to obtain or even unhealthy.
I would like to respond to the fourth prompt. The American media, advertising, and entertainment industry’s obsession with supermodels and beautiful women has been frequently discussed as damaging to the other 99% of women in this country. And rightfully so. Certainly it suggests that young women must live up to an impossible standard of youth, beauty, and body type, and relentless depictions of supermodel-level women can have the effect of poisoning large swaths of American women with inferiority complexes. I don’t want to take anything away from that. If I was a girl, I could only imagine how pernicious this would be to my identity, confidence, and self-esteem.
But the truth is, at least insofar as I have experienced it, this deeply unrealistic portrayal of American women is damaging to men too. I hate the American advertising and marketing industry. The relentless onslaught of car, smartphone, technology, and deodorant commercials that either feature unambiguously gorgeous women or sneaky-gorgeous women gets under my skin every time I watch them. My best guess is this is because it incites jealousy, insecurity, and generalized anger that this legion of fantasy women are not accessible to me. It makes me, an adult male in his twenties, feel inferior, marginalized, and alienated from this elite “club” of good-looking, successful people. It turns me into an angry outcast–all because I am unconsciously accepting an artificial, manufactured fantasy as reality. For every progressive commercial that does feature normal-looking women (they do exist!), there are probably five or six of them with airbrushed, photo-shopped, makeup-artist perfected women who were already attractive enough without all the layers of artifice.
These top 1% models do not make me want to buy a luxury car or a new tablet or a magnetizing body spray. They just leave me confused, slightly upset, and repulsed by companies that cannot wean themselves off of the conviction that they must always sell not only sex but sexual fantasy in order to have a successful product. Exclusively portraying incredibly attractive women between the ages of 22-35 is directly damaging to females. It sends the horrible message that these are the most coveted and even most important women in society and anyone else is unwanted. It is indirectly damaging to a discerning male like myself. It makes me feel ostracized from some elite, WASP, country-club, six-figure club of males that are capable of dating these women. And the funny thing is, I would never in a trillion years want to be in that club. I want to be as far away from that club as humanly possible. But the corrosive media fantasy of beautiful women constantly reminds me of these things (it goes without saying that women are being objectified here) that I cannot have, that I am unworthy of. And the result is not that I go out and buy a new car or choose to drink a certain alcohol. I just feel a little worse inside, my frame of reference and perspective on my life briefly twisted and warped into something ugly and unwanted.
This is a really good reminder. I know it’s National Eating Disorders Week, and it can be hard to remember that everyone is beautiful in their own way. We need to raise awareness and the self esteem of guys, girls, and myself.
i used to have an eating disorder. it was such a struggle. i felt so insecure all the time and was constantly thinking about food all the time and basically not thinking about anything else. the only way i was able to get past the self-image issues was to talk about it with people i was close to and to see a therapist. there is no shame in asking for help, i now realize, even though i was scared at the time. now i just try to eat fairly healthy in moderate proportions but not obsess over food and my size so much. i haven’t even weighed myself in over a year and always avoid looking at the scale when i go to the doctor’s. who cares what my actual weight is if i feel good?
I think it’s important to remind ourselves that EVERYONE is unique. There is not one STANDARD that everyone should conform to (in fact that would be so boring!) but it’s our little differences that make us special. I think the most important thing is to LIKE WHO WE ARE. It doesn’t matter what other people think because they are not me. It’s not always easy to follow this principle, but I think that what we need to do is stop judging others and accept people with and for all the differences they offer. If people could be more open and accepting, we could create an atmosphere of trust that allows everyone to be who and what they want to be.
There has definitely been awareness raised on how women are portrayed in the media but there is still such a long way to go. Campaigns like #askhermore have raised valid questions as to why the first thing that women are asked is about their looks, the clothes that they are wearing, or their hair. In order to improve self-esteem we need to focus on more than just looks. If we are sending the message that the only value a woman has is her appearance (by only asking questions regarding her appearance or critiquing every aspect of her looks), then we are going to have a lot of women having low self-esteem if they don’t fit this very specific standard of beauty that the media has set. There also needs to be a broader standard of beauty, which has also been improving by having more women of color and women of different sizes as models, actresses, and entertainers, but still has a long way to go.
Getting comfortable in your skin is a process and I think it is very different from person to person. It comes from accepting yourself as you are and being compassionate towards yourself as well as whatever “imperfections” you might think you have. It also comes from knowing that your appearance is only a small part of who you are and there are other more important things to focus on.
Exercise is one of the best ways I know to feel comfortable in my skin–to start feeling like my body is a tool and a miracle rather than some dreaded and flawed thing that I’m constantly struggling against. Taking a long beautiful walk, or even just drinking a cup of tea–something nourishing that doesn’t feel impulsive or extreme–finding ways to feel like my body is actively experiencing things, rather than just being looked at and evaluated by others.
I think this may be the toughest thing of all for women of all ages to deal with. Especially given the rise of social media where lives are boiled down to a series of images that more or less define you if you let them.
Models do not even looks like models. They are not even a 1/3 of what they pretend to be in the magazines so I really wish that we could all (when i say all i mean everyone in the world) get over trying to look and be perfect b/c it doesnt exist. To improve our self esteem, I think it just starts with first coming to terms with who we are and realizing that everyone was created differently. There’s too much focus on what the next woman looks like and not enough on ourselves. I’ve noticed a lot more diversity in body types and images in the media and in all fashion/music industries. I feel like we are a lot closer to becoming comfortable and understanding of the fact that differences exist … and that one type of person doesnt represent us all. Love what you have, accept it. If you want to be a better you, work on it but ALWAYS remember that there are plenty of people who like/love you just the way you are.
I agree that the media is beginning to celebrate “real beauty” more. You have movements such as the Dove Real Beauty campaign that exposes photoshop and celebrates different figures, “plus size” women modeling in Calvin Klein ads, and finally the Lamily doll, a normal proportioned doll. I think that this change in how the media portrays women has helped young women today to feel more empowered and accepting of their unique attributes.
As a girl I was gangly and shy and my friends and I were essentially “outcasts” in the world of high school cliques. I wished with all of my heart that I were beautiful and desirable. When I reached early adulthood I felt that the only way to gain self esteem was to catch and keep the attention of men. But because of this mindset, I landed myself in a relationship that became controlling and abusive. It was 3 years before I finally matured enough to realize that my self esteem and happiness did not and WILL NEVER depend on what another person thinks.
How did I improve my self esteem? When I felt like I was at my lowest of lows, I thought about my bucket list, and set out to tick things off of it. They don’t have to be huge life goals, they can be little. I gained happiness and pride in doing things I’ve never done before…teaching tricks to a puppy, studying a subject I was genuinely interested in, learning to spray paint art, planning a trip to Europe, training for a half marathon. From these small tasks I began to see myself as someone who is not worthless, but someone who is committed, someone who is intelligent, who is creative, who is adventurous, who is strong.
The only thing that you can control is yourself; your own attitude, your own emotions, your own goals, your own life. If you’re feeling down, think about what makes you happy, and instead tell yourself that you’re going to have the best day ever. Go out and start something exciting, new, scary, and fun and I guarantee you that you will learn something astonishing about yourself.
As girls and women learning to thrive and survive in this image-saturated world, we have a huge responsibility to support one another in every way possible. Believe it or not, many people are unaware of the fact that the pictures in ads and magazines are photoshopped beyond recognition. These images create a false standard of beauty that is totally unachievable. The truth behind these images must be spread to others so this crazy idea of perfection can be eliminated. Challenge the images you see everyday. Challenge yourself when you start to question your own beauty and self-worth. Challenge the fashion and magazine industry—tell them you want to see real girls without the airbrushing. Speaking out is easier than you think; The Brave Girl’s Alliance–” a group dedicated to the empowerment of girls—has created a “Heroes Pledge for Advertising” that you can sign, which asks the fashion industry to stop producing photoshopped ads.
I think we really need to pay attention to how we promote body image, especially to girls. I see such a huge difference between the way young girls act today than when I was a child, and I think this is directly related to the way women are portrayed in the media. There’s nothing wrong with portraying a woman as powerful and successful and aspirational, but when all we focus on is their looks and sexiness, it becomes a problem.
the backlash to photoshopping is great, although i am concerned it is mostly coming from female-centric media like jezebel.com. more sites targeting men need to expose the truth about the extent images of women are photoshopped. i don’t mind men’s magazines continuing to use photoshopped images, as i believe it’s fine to have some aspect of fantasy, as long as people have some sort of grounding in reality to know the difference. it’s when we remain completely ignorant of the truth, that we, as men, are complacent in body image issues.
The physical aspect of the way that females are portrayed in the media is unrealistic and it can lead to many problems with young girls today who view these images. They strive to be something that is nearly impossible. I also don’t appreciate how women are portrayed as sex objects in the media. I always hear slogans like “sex sells,” and this is so sad but it is true. It is important to try and be yourself and to be happy with your body. This is easier said than done. I often struggle with my body image and I know that I am not that bad off. It is really easy to get caught up in the whole idea of the size zero, Barbie type of image. It is difficult to let go and realize that not all people are going to look like that ever. It is important that I take care of myself and treat myself well. When I love myself on the inside, I will be better able to love myself on the outside.
I agree with Sunshine- when I love myself on the inside- I am much more comfortable in my own skin!
As a teenage girl, it is incredibly difficult to love myself. Every time I go to the beach or pool I find myself holding my arms around my stomach, trying to block anyone from seeing me. No matter how many people tell me I look great, I always feel like I don’t. Being a teenager sucks, and seeing all the beautiful women around me makes it even harder. Any advice?
I feel the same way. Instagram can totally fuel this too, seeing all these people flaunting their perfect bodies, while I can get stuck in my head and feel really insecure. What I try to remember is that there will always be someone thinner than me and there also will always be someone bigger than me. Try not to compare! And also it turns out, the flaws that I am most insecure about are ones people don’t even notice, considering they aren’t 5 inches from my thighs looking at my stretch marks.I’m learning to accept myself for who I am, flaws and all (which can be really hard).
I saw this thread and I had to reply. Something I’ve realized is that the way I feel about my body totally fluctuates, depending on the day, depending on my mood in general, depending on what I ate that day, depending on which model’s pictures I saw on Twitter, etc. So I just have to remember to love myself regardless, because I only have one body and I need to respect it no matter what.
When I was really sick and my depression was untreated three years ago, and I was using a lot of drugs and barely eating, I was so thin and skinny, and I guess my body then was the best it’s ever looked. BUT now, even though I’ve gained a lot of weight, I am so much happier and so much healthier – I would rather have a not perfect body and a happier life than a great body and be miserable.
Feelings about my body change every day! Isabel, its the same thing for me- depending on a bunch of different things, I switch up all the time but for the most part, I am content. I am always on social media so I see a bunch of Insta models and all of this fitness stuff on my TL. It just reminds me of where I want to be physically and it can sometimes put a damper on my mood.
I’m still working on keeping it real with myself and remembering that I’m fine the way that I am… and if I want to improve anything, I just have to work hard for it. I also cant compare myself to everyone else bc 9 times out of 10, with the way things have been in the media, these people are surgically enhanced, photoshopped and airbrushed, gym rats, or just naturally gifted. I’m not complaining too much lol but this body image stuff can really screw with me from time to time. I am so proud of you for owning who you are ad loving yourself for who you are TODAY, thanks for sharing that. I agree with you too, “I would rather have a not perfect body and a happier life than a great body and be miserable.” I’ll take happiness over perfection anyday.