A Rant on Media Perceptions
Let me preface this with a disclaimer, these are merely my opinions and do not represent anything but my own personal opinions. This is merely an analysis of the effect of today’s modern media on women and our overall self-esteem.
Let’s look at today’s media. What do we see? Super thin models and scanty clothing with designer labels. Now I don’t really mind a cute tank top or moderately short skirt, but I respect my body enough to not give everyone walking by a peepshow. This has nothing to do with my religion. I know that a lot of people equate modesty to religions like the LDS, fundamental Christian groups and other religions with standards of modesty, but honestly, there are tons of women I know who dress their bodies appropriately without a religious incentive.
There are different reasons why a person wears what they wear. Maybe they’re comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, or a tank top and skirt, or a business suit. Maybe they dress to emphasize a part of their body they appreciate, or to draw attention away from that one area they dislike. For example I wear long sleeved sweaters or jackets in the winter to cover scars on my arms that tend to stand out when I’m cold. Does this mean I’m ashamed of my body? No it doesn’t. It means that I’ve experienced far too many questioning looks or inquisitive questions from children to know that it’s far easier to throw on a sweater than explain them.
There is a perception in the media that beautiful bodies have to be perfect. Constantly we are attacked by images of bodies photoshopped and edited on covers of magazines flaunting catchy article titles like “Lose 10 lbs in 10 days!” or “Lose your flabby tummy in 2 weeks!” This disgusts me. Our perception of beauty has been twisted so much that the average woman is brainwashed to the idea that we’re not good enough. We’ve all got our imperfections: acne, birthmarks, freckles, cellulite, scars, and moles. And that makes us “flawed” because we don’t see the women on the covers of the magazine gauntlet at the supermarket with any flaws at all.
We drown in self-loathing and munch on celery sticks as we half-heartedly follow a diet and exercise routine that does nothing positive for our bodies. And the rhetoric that “real women have curves” and “real women are beautiful just the way they are” is just as damaging. While it attempts to promote self-empowerment in women, it denies the fact that our bodies require exercise and decent diet. To take care of our bodies, we must exercise, not to the point of fanaticism, but enough to produce a cardio workout and work the muscles. There is a need for moderation. Moderation in diet and in exercise produce healthy bodies regardless of their shape.
I live in Utah, a place where perfection and beauty is often associated with righteousness and godliness. Too often I see young women my age who work their bodies to extremes to match the perceived ideal of beauty. While I am not overly religious, I have had ladies come up to me and tell me that “God would love you more if you would just exercise and lose some weight.” Not only do I find this incredibly intrusive and offensive, it disgusts me that people would use religion as a basis for their self-image issues and judgements. Lets look at the facts here:
- I’m 5’0″
- I weigh about 145 lbs
- My body proportions are slightly off due to a bit of dwarfism that runs in the family. (My sister who is five years younger than I has longer arms, legs while our torso is the same size.)
According to the media, I am overweight. Am I? No. Do I need to lose weight? I don’t need to, but it wouldn’t hurt to lose a couple extra pounds. Am I going to obsess over every calorie or exercise to excess? No, I exercise every day because I enjoy the endorphins and energy I get from it. I eat a relatively preservative free diet out of choice. Am I happy with my body? Overall, yes.
Did you know high end fashion designers only design for women sizes 0-4 American? Plus size models are on average size 6-8 while the pant size of the average American woman is 12-14. Ladies, what does this say about the media and our perception of ourselves? And before we blame this phenomenon on sexist ideals of men, remember that when you’re standing in line at the grocery store or watching people in a restaurant, we’re all eyeing up each other and silently judging. I’m guilty. You’re guilt. It’s a natural occurrence. We as women allow and perpetrate the barrage of negative media on our bodies.
Now I’m not saying we need to shun all modern media, dress like nuns, and live under a rock. It’s impractical and hiding away from the world causes just as many problems. But be aware of the media’s affect on our self-image. Just because you’ve “got it” doesn’t mean you need to flaunt it. Treat your bodies with the respect it deserves. We are all beautiful in all of our different shapes and deserve to know and believe this.
I apologize for the rant, it was a long time in the making and I wanted to know your opinions.