A Rant: Body Image & Media

This has absolutely nothing to do with being at Glendon, but I’ve found my blog to be an out outsource for me, and I believe this has everything to do with being someone living in the digital age. I’ve been in a mood the last while that I’ve been comparing myself to other people, mostly from social media, or even putting other women down and putting myself down above all others. It’s problematic- the way we’ve been conditioned to think according to societal views on beauty and health. We’re told to have chiseled cheekbones, and toned thighs, and round asses and perky breasts and thick eyebrows and ombréd hair (when we payed $600 plus to achieve this goddamned look) and muscular (but not too muscular) arms, and a petite frame and multicoloured eyes, and plump, full lips and white, straight teeth.

Honestly, what the hell? Who came up with these ideas that THESE were the characteristics of beauty, when most of them are genetics. Why is it that when someone doesn’t have all of this, society says “ah, they’re okay” or “not the best”. Who’s opinion is that anyway? I’m sick of it. I can’t escape it. I’m TIRED of comparing myself to other people, to instagram models, to photoshopped photos, or plastically altered people? Why am I even doing this?

I’m here to rant, and while this will not be the most organized or classy piece of writing I’ll ever write, I hope it resonates, although personal, I believe it’s relatable.

Here we go- I don’t have a chef, I work and am in school full time plus homework, plus hobbies, plus social, plus dating, plus working out when I can and getting outside, and spending time with family, but it all adds up in terms of time. I don’t devote my life to my body, and I think that’s perfectly normal, and I can’t say “my body is a temple” because dang the way I’ve treated my own body it would have burned down 6 times already, and I’m sick of hearing mansplaining and shaming when I’m not capable of doing all of these things. I’m not a walking multitasker.

It’s so hard, as someone with low self-esteem to begin with BECAUSE OF SOCIETY’S BODY IMAGE IDEALS AND BEING MADE FUN OF WHEN I WAS YOUNGER FOR NOT BEING THEM, it’s so hard to look at my body and think “yes girl work it”, it’s hard!! I look at a photo, and think- oh look at my arm it looks big. Why do the negatives come out more than the positives in my mind? Psychologists Barbara Fredrickson and her colleague Marcial Losada created a “positivity calculus” theory, based from fluid dynamics, a subfield of physics — in a 2005 paper published in the American Psychologist journal, that a ratio of 5 positives to 1 negative constitutes a balance in happiness in relationships. (Check out more of Fredrickson’s work here) I don’t think so when it comes to relationships with my own body or with myself, because if my makeup looks good, my hair does, my dress is bomb, my contour is flawless & my calves look amazing I’ll STILL look at that one “fat” arm.

And society teaches us to find that flaw. The pimple, the uneven eyebrow hair, the peach fuzz, the mustache hair that’s too dark right now & needs to be waxed or bleached, the cellulite, the uneven or unperky breasts. I’m sick and tired. I see why there are people that rebel against society’s ideals and won’t shave or will dye their hair a funky colour or will use tattoos or piercings or body modification to represent individuality. I get why.

I want to look in the mirror and be happy about it, for myself, not for others. I see girls on social media who will photoshop a bikini picture just for validation from peers and these “friends” that they look good when in reality it’s just their own insecurity needing that ” you look good babe!” to be even the slightest bit confident. It’s sad. Look what the media has done to us. Did our grandparents care about their weight? Hell no. My nanny was a curvier woman when she got married (at only 18)  & looking at her wedding photos when she passed away, what did we say? She looks beautiful and happy. Not: oh she should have lost all her extra weight for her wedding.

And on that note- losing weight is HARD. Losing weight and being skinny takes so much unhealthy counting, and obsessing, and honestly, it’s such a depressing cycle. I can say I learned a lot about myself through the endless attempts- like the fact that I’ll never be someone with thin thighs or without wide hips, but I also learned that I’m strong as ever. But then, when I look at the media again- I’m told this is wrong. I shouldn’t think this way, I should be focused on my imperfections like the thicker thighs or wide hips and that I need to lose those, even after I’m proud of myself for reaching a fitness goal & temporarily stop obsessing over my size. I always will.

I’ll always want to date people taller than me and bigger than me because I want to feel smaller, and more petite and dainty, or I compare myself to an image of what a couple should look like, or even an ex of the person I am dating at that time. I hate it, I can’t stand it, especially when I don’t fit that image and it does get to me a little.

I’m sick of not seeing women who are strong, or who have average bodies or women with shorter hair or smaller or even larger breasts. Different women. Kudos to popular branding buzzfeed & aerie who have started representing curvier & coloured women, showing how DIVERSE women really are, or influencers like Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence- body positivity activitsts that focus their projects in the media.

Image result for aerie real ad

We’re all different shapes and colours and sizes with all amazingly different personalities and histories and futures, but we still idealize the skinny but toned Victoria’s Secret model or the instagram models who DEVOTE their lives to being that shape and to have that image and whose actual photos end up being retouched.

 

Go Buzzfeed, for curating content videos like this ^.

It’s so hard on any person, especially when we can’t get away from it. It’s everywhere even if we deleted all of our social media accounts, that would mean I couldn’t even go grocery shopping, because I’m bound to see a “perfect” woman on some fruit advert. Let’s all recognize that I’m also a white cis female- I couldn’t even imagine being part of the LGTBQ+ community or being coloured and having to deal with this underrepresentation. I can empathize because of my own body positivity struggles, but I’ll never understand to what extent.

And then there’s masculinity versus femininity and society’s opinions on that, and then there are other fashions that are religiously influenced as well that society doesn’t represent. Why are we only seeing veiled women on magazines today? Right, because we had to stand up about it before media realized it needed to be done, which still has a long way to go.

I’m sick of the comparing, and the standardization that comes with social media and I think us women really need to come together and embrace each other’s differences. Let’s celebrate health, and strength and culture & adversity over achieving this look. I want to look in the mirror and say “I can only run 15km but it’s an enormous start and I’m proud as ever, or “I’m wearing this for ME because I feel good in it” or even “I’m having a beer tonight because I feel like it” not saying “To do X, I need to do X to maintain this look or fitness level or feeling”.

Honestly, FUCK beauty standards and “body goals” and because quite frankly some “goals” are completely out of reach based on your own genetics and physical attributes, or would even take adapting an obsessive lifestyle. For me to have abs, I’d have to be eating next to no sugar every day, and I’d have to cut out so many different foods, when to me, that’s taking the enjoyment out of life. Is having “picture perfect” abs really worth it in the end? No. Because that photo of you in your bikini with great abs one summer probably won’t be remembered. It’s the strength, the encouragement you give others, the kindness, the humility, etc. that will be remembered.

I really realized how sick society is when a 13 year-old girl came into my work and asked me to help her find a full coverage foundation. This young girl had beautiful olive skin, freckles, and rosy cheeks and wanted to cover it all up with foundation and a full contour. When I blatantly told her I wouldn’t do that for her because she had beautiful skin and my job is to help people find makeup that complements their natural features, I understood the power of the media. Natural features aren’t even a thing in the media’s eyes. Instead, I could have made a sale off of the little girl’s father, but I had the decency to think about the girl instead of the profit. Society is absolutely sick, because we profit off of insecurities- Bikini body guides to surgery to detox teas and juices. It’s ridiculous. I really hope my small contribution of telling the little girl that “makeup is to embrace your own natural beauty” carries with her, because teaching the next generation is the best thing we can do for the future of body image.

I think my rant is done, I know this was all over the place, but take what you please from it. But I think the biggest message is that we have to start looking at ourselves more positively, rebelling against the direction of Western media and really be happy with ourselves. Being healthy & happy is what matters, and this can honestly be achieved by our surroundings. Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, make you feel good and comfortable and beautiful.

Body image is extremely hard to get a handle on, and it’s a different journey for everyone depending on SO many factors and circumstances.

Take care of your bodies, but love your body as it is, live balanced, enjoy every practice you begin, enjoy the damn food you eat and don’t take shame from anyone, and stand your ground when someone tries.

It’s up to us to change the views of beauty one step at a time, I guess the first is self-love, and you’re more than welcome to join me on that battle.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s