I was standing in the checkout line of the supermarket yesterday, trying to remember last-minute what it was on my grocery list that I was undoubtedly forgetting, when my eyes skipped over the magazine stand on my left. Each cover presented glossy images of hyper-thin young women demurely smiling/attractively pouting/seductively gazing back at me. One image in particular stood out: it was of a girl with rail thin arms and protruding ribs leaning her bony behind against a headline that read "Lose 5 lbs by Friday!" For some reason, I couldn't take my eyes off that woman. She was so freaking thin. My eyes glanced back to my shopping cart, and I mentally calculated that I would have to throw away 97% of the food in there and settle on meals of lettuce and tomatoes for the next few months before I would look half as thin as her. It was unsettling. I've seen these kinds of unrealistic and unhealthy messages before in magazines, on billboards, in movies, in music videos, in advertisements. This is not new to me. Women are bombarded with garbage like this every day. But for some reason, yesterday it just made me sick. And I am still thinking about it.
1)You do not look like this (manipulated photograph of an unhealthy) woman
2)You should look like this (manipulated photograph of an unhealthy) woman
3)You need to get PRODUCT X in order to look more like this (manipulated photograph of an unhealthy) woman
No wonder our views of beauty are distorted. That kind of logic feeds off of insecurity and produces reduced self-confidence and even self-loathing. These industries, and others, are manipulating women’s insecurities about their bodies for profit. This is terribly wrong.
The message being sent is that there is a direct correlation between your size and your worth: the thinner your ankles, the lovelier you are. But being beautiful and being skinny are not the same thing. They are two different things entirely. But the line between the two is blurred for many, many women, and this needs to stop.
Needless to say, I have been thinking about beauty and what it means to be beautiful. When I think of beauty, the first thing I think of is my three sisters. They are each exquisitely, spectacularly, breathtakingly beautiful women. Truly. They are attractive, yes, but that is not what makes them beautiful. Do you know why they are beautiful? It is because they are smart, brave, loyal, funny, unique, driven, honest, hard working, kind, giving, and a thousand other things that I value and admire. This is not a result of throwing up. This is a result of their choices and their character. This is what true beauty looks like: If you don't think they are stunningly gorgeous I will punch you in the face. (Kidding... sort of...)So while I was thinking about all this, and disturbed by the discrepancy between true beauty and what is being presented (and widely accepted) as beauty, I received an email from my friend, Liz (holla!), telling me about a non-profit organization based in Salt Lake City called Beauty Redefined. They fight against these negative and incorrect conceptions of beauty. Their website states:
Needless to say, this was exactly what I needed in order to regain my faith in mankind. Check out the billboards that will soon be popping up in Utah, courtesy of BR:
Mead said, “A small group of thoughtful people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
I realize it will be an uphill battle, but the concept of beauty needs to be changed. It needs to be righted. And we can change it. Don't buy into the messages that tell you that you aren't good enough if your nose isn't straight or your fingernail polish is chipped. It isn't true. Our choices make us who we are, not our earlobe size. We are more than our reflections. If we truly believe that, the belief will spread. And, maybe one day, we can stand in checkout lines at the supermarket and turn to see only positive images of healthy, poised, and confident women smiling genuinely back at us.