Friday, January 18, 2013

The War on Body Image: Feeling Comfortable in Your Own Skin

Oh, the tried and true body image discussion. We’ve all heard them for all our lives, especially if you are female. Everything from cartoons, magazines, talk shows, and TV shows have gone through it a bajillion times over, some perpetuating better ideals than others. However, there are different perspectives to look at body image that differ and vary; the way you look at yourself, the way others see you, the way you see others in relation to you. These factors can often have a very negative effect on your self esteem, but it doesn’t always have to be that way.

The Weight Issue

Probably the most testy, complicated, and argument starting topic of them all. It stems from the differences between a healthy weight for a person and society’s ideals that ignore a persons individual needs. We all know that for the longest time now, the slimmest figure possible is most desired in many parts of the world (not all but many). We also know that not everyones bodies were built to be slim, but despite that, the same ideals are pushed on everyone no matter what their genetic makeup may be. 

Honestly, I think it’s pretty unfair to push some unattainable ideal of a slim and “lump free”, for the lack of a better term, body when we as humans are all so different. Some people’s bodies just aren’t made to be a Size 0. You can be a Size 14, eat well and exercise, or are healthy enough that your size is not an issue to you, if that’s your body, you should embrace it and screw all the people who don’t.

Sometimes the debates are flipped around. It’s called “Skinny Hate”, where girls who are seen as  skinny get berated for being the way they are too. People call them out on possibly having eating disorders, saying they need to “eat a cheeseburger”, and other really insensitive things. Number 1, who knows if said person could have an eating disorder and is struggling with their self worth, and Number 2, just because you are “skinny” doesn’t mean that if you eat really super unhealthy foods often that they won’t cause diabetes or high cholesterol in your future. I mean, those are extreme circumstances, but they should be considered nonetheless. Weight gain or loss is not a stamp of “unhealthy” in the ways we always expect. 

Not trying to be preachy, but it all boils down to accepting a person no matter their weight. If someone is unhealthy, dangerously skinny or obese, kindly reach out to them if they are willing to change instead of firing bullets unknowingly or in spite of their feelings or health situations. If someone is perfectly happy and healthy the way they are, then leave them alone and sip the Haterade elsewhere. 

Even more importantly, learn to love your weight and be the most healthy person you can be for yourself and nobody else, I will come back to this.

The Real Woman

This relates back a bit to the whole Weight issue, and it’s about the heated argument between the Victoria Secret “Love My Body” and Dove “Real Beauty” ad campaigns. 

It was argued that the women in the VS ad were not “real women” and that the varied bodies of the women in the Dove ad were. Both are quite wrong in their own right. 

First off, the women in the VS ad are in fact real. There are real women out there would birth given bodies like theirs, and yes it may fit the feminine ideal in media and advertisement, but that doesn’t make it wrong and those women should not be hated on for it. 

Secondly, the women in the Dove ad don’t represent every body type, and physical as well as racial attributes that exist in the whole world. Those women represented only show a tiny amount of the types of bodies out there. Yes, they in fact are not the usual advertised female bodies, which I find to be encouraging, but it's still not everyone out there.

In a personal perspective, my body type isn’t represented in neither of the campaigns. I’m petite, small figured and quite slim, don’t have much in the boob department, with pretty full thighs. The VS models are quite tall first off, with a lot more in the bust (I mean they are selling bras after all). I also don’t see a 100% representation of myself in the Dove ad either, though there was variety, none of those women were “me”. Well of course not, because no one has my exact body but me. 

There was also the argument over retouching of the VS girls; but tell me, would you want your completely unfiltered body plastered all over ads for everyone to see? Be fair. There is retouching in both images no doubt.

If it were up to me, I would merge the two campaigns and add even more variety, but come on, there are 6 billion people on this earth, can we really represent everyone in one ad? No not really. 

The Self

Now, about being the most healthy person you can be for yourself and nobody else, I can’t stress enough how important this is for all of us. Female or Male, young or old, we all need to learn to accept ourselves for our bodily imperfections. It’s also important to make changes if you see fit, and doing so in a healthy way. Some people opt for plastic surgery, and there is nothing wrong with that as long as it is done in the safest ways possible. Others strive to lose weight if they feel as though they’ve become unhealthy and unhappy. People struggling with anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders seek help from doctors, counselors, and nutritionists. And lastly, there are those who are healthy and just go along with what they’ve got going for them no matter what. What I’m trying to say is please yourself first, evaluate whats best for you on your own accord, and listen to your body because only it knows the answers. 


  1. Going to note the fact that the Victoria Secret models are healthy as well. You don't see them walking the runway or doing commercials with ribcages beared or anything like that. They eat healthily (for the most part), they do intense training, so when you do see them in real life (I've seen Adriana and Candance in person before ; w;) you can see they are toned and healthy for their size and shape. Are they anything to envy? Maybe in the confidence that they put on for their role, but their bodies don't intimidate me.

  2. Absolutely agreed on all counts. They work hard to get their bodies the way they are and I'm sure they go about it in the healthiest of ways.

  3. Hey cousin, the media again cramming bullshit down ppl's throat. Just the other day I'd blogged about this, and how in America, the society's outlook on beauty is so fucked up that it doesn't even make sense. And this all ties into getting plastic surgery and all that cosmetic surgery stuff and how the media and society virtually force girls into altering their bodies.

  4. @Amber- As for Victoria Secret models not being anorexic-looking, I don't know if I can agree with that. They look pretty scrawny to me.

  5. Their overall appearance can also be due to retouching, as the ad creators sometimes go out of their way to make the models bodies look so perfect that it skews how they are in real life, which is quite misleading to us who see these ads and try to attain a fake image of perfection.

  6. Absolutely true. There are so many things in American society that pressure people, especially women, into altering their looks in order to achieve this false sense of beauty. It's really unfortunate.