Let’s continue 2017 the right way
Following my last post about tips to keep sane during all those ‘New Year, new me’ resolution I found a great social commentary from the inspiring Cynthia while reading her articles, one of my favourite fat positive media resource, that I really want to share with you. It made me realise once again how badly all those advertisements, I see every day around me, and celebrity tales of weight loss affected my own body image and which huge impact today’s media has especially on young girls.
I hope you y’all enjoying this article as much as I did and that your new year started as joyful and amazing as mine. ?
“Why is my stomach not as flat as hers?”
“How can I be as beautiful as her?”
“Why do I not look like her?”
I asked myself those questions every single time over and over while I am looking through magazines like Cosmopolitan or US comparing myself to the flawless and skinny models I admire. And I am not alone. Thousands of girls are having these questions on their mind influenced by the image they are exposed to almost every single minute of their day telling them one specific message: You must look a certain way! Those models are posing, nearly naked, provocatively running their fingers through their hair and looking seductively in the camera while wearing nothing else than a beige trench coat which is barely covering their boobs and exposing the rest of their body.
The models used in advertisements are sexy and appear to be flawless and have the perfect figure. It creates the illusion that a woman needs to fulfil these standards in order to be considered beautiful, but it doesn’t take into account that these days 100% of the advertisement are edited and photo shopped creating an idyllic, yet unreachable figure.
Stomachs are made skinnier, thighs are made slimmer, skin is made clearer, hair is made shinier, hips are made wider – and the list goes on.
The consequences for the health and happiness of the society are terrifying. Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies. “Only 5% of women naturally possess the body type portrayed by in the media and 58% of college-aged girls feel pressured to be a certain weight” (11 Facts About Body Image). 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25 (11 Facts About Body Image), the age group that makes up significant percentage of social media users and are more vulnerable to the impact that social media can have on their body image as their body changes during these years because of puberty and they are searching for role models to follow.
Ultimately, unrealistically skinny images lead to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and depression among young girls and create a disturbingly high number of women and young girls with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia and self-reported body dissatisfaction. Eating disorders have one of the highest rates of mortality of any mental illness (Kaye).
But what can be done to stop this ongoing trend? A positive change is already happening nowadays by for example the Dove campaign for Real Beauty, where regular looking women with all their flaws and differences were used to promote their product.
It is a first step in the right direction, but it is one in a thousand advertisement and if you look on the top runways around the world you will be confronted with the same repeating picture: skeleton looking girls with heels.
In the end women, and people of all ages and genders for that matter, should be encouraged to play a more active role in changing the way they interact on social media by writing proactive blogs and monitoring and rejecting negative images that they see online and develop more positive ones. In order to build a supportive community, women need to speak out when they see negative images of women, and discourage their friends from interacting with and sharing negative messages in order to build a supportive community. (Klein)
An increase in media awareness has to be the first and the most important step toward encouraging a healthy relationship between a woman, her body, and her social media network.
Finally, I want to end this commentary with an inspirational quote of Oprah Winfrey, which should be the goal for every single women and which helped me to appreciate my own body more: “I finally realised that being grateful to my body was the key to giving more love to myself.”
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