When kids are younger — especially before they’re consuming tons of media and have friends — they get almost all of their behavioral cues from their parents. If their parents think it’s okay to call people names, then they’ll think it’s okay to call people names. If their mom hates her body, they can learn to hate their bodies, too.
If you want kids to learn that all people are equal and good, it requires vigilance. You can’t change the world around you — and you can’t always protect them — but you can explain to them that everyone’s equal, and you can say it again and again.
This goes double for disparaging your own body in front of your children. My mom always struggled with what she perceived to be fatness, and therefore was always on a diet. I don’t know how may disparaging comments I’ve heard her say about herself in my life, but if I had a dollar for every one, I could probably pay for my enormous amounts of therapy.
It’s hard enough to be a woman in our sexist culture, and the greatest gift we can give our girls is confidence in themselves — and that includes their bodies. As a parent, you’re competing with a plethora of outside influences — TV, advertising, friends, bullies, teachers — for your child’s attention. Inevitably, we’re all fucking up the kids around us — don’t worry, we’re teaching them good lessons, too! — but this is one thing that’s so fucking important. A girl’s sense of self is everything.
Ask anyone about photoshopping, and chances are they’ll know the basics. They’ll also ’know’ that most magazines use it. And that the images they see are most likely altered. But ”knowing” all that doesn’t mean much when it’s not applied.
1. This lady’s got a great bod. Before retouching.
2. That bod isn’t perfect. Nothing is perfect.
3. The image you see on the left is a magazine’s attempt to ‘perfect’ her body by removing what they consider ‘flaws’. (note the quotations)
4. That ‘flawless’ image is for all intents and purposes a lie. (duh)
I thought this TED Talk was insightful, refreshing and incredibly candid. Cameron is eloquent, provides shockingly ‘real’ talk about the illusion of beauty, modelling, and self-esteem. She also shares some of her own images, both real life and covers, to show how much goes in to the photographs we see everyday.
Excerpt from TED blog.
“I always just say I was scouted, but that means nothing,” Russell says in her talk. “The real way I became a model is that I won a genetic lottery, and I am a recipient of a legacy. For the past few centuries, we have defined beauty not just as health and youth and symmetry that we’re biologically programmed to admire, but also as tall, slender figures with femininity and white skin. This is a legacy that was built for me, and that I’ve been cashing in on.”
In this talk, Russell delivers two powerful messages: First, that young girls who dream of being a model should think of it like they would winning Powerball—something to shoot for, but “not a career path.” Second, Russell takes on the tendency to think that life would be better and easier if we were more beautiful. Russell’s response: “If you ever think, ‘If I had thinner thighs and shinier hair, wouldn’t I be happier,” you just need to meet a group of models. They have the thinnest thighs and the shiniest hair and the coolest clothes and they are the most physically insecure women, probably, on the planet.”
But Russell has another point she wants to convey too. While many bemoan the use of Photoshop for making models look thinner and imperfection-free, Russell says that this is just the tip of the iceberg. To hear more about how the image of sex appeal is carefully constructed from the ground up, watch her bold talk. And after the jump, pay attention as Russell shares the reality behind some of her sexy images.
This is the very first photo that Cameron Russell ever took as a model, shot for the magazine Allure in 2003, when she had just turned 16. Yes, she may look like the beacon of femininity. But she hadn’t so much as gotten her period yet. To hammer the point home of just how young she was at the time, she’s contrasted the image with a bathing-suit shot of her with her grandma, taken just a months before.
Russell looks like a siren in this red bikini. Despite looking well into her 20s in the image, she was just a teenager when the photo was taken. For argument’s sake, here’s a photo of her on the beach with a friend taken the same day. Her look: polka-dotted innocence.
Another illustration of how young Russell was as she embarked on her early modeling career—in this shot, she looks beautifully brooding in a shot for French Vogue. However, she was giggly at a slumber party just days before.
I should probably start by saying this isn’t a post in defense of plastic surgery. Or anti-plastic surgery. This is a post about body love: something I feel passionately about and something everyone deserves. With or without implants.
Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions on plastic surgery: it’s a highly personal choice and not for everyone. While I do believe it’s gotten excessive (understatement), I believe the best way to address it is by pumping out some body love. I’m hoping that by posting reminders to love ourselves as we are, accept our “flaws” (though I don’t like that word) and focus on our health and happiness, that future versions of ourselves won’t feel as much pressure to “perfect” themselves through surgical procedures.
I love this young girl & her mission! Really wish that Seventeen magazine had taken up her challenge (to be honest, I see it as a HUGE missed opportunity for them).
Every day I get messages from young girls begging for help to fix normal, everyday, common body ‘flaws’ (note: actually not flaws, but are perceived that way. Cellulite is no more a flaw than your ears are. It’s normal, common and something that 90% of women have: not that you’d know it from the way it’s represented in the media). Most young girls have no idea how SKEWED our notions of beauty are or how deep they’ve been internalized. Even though most
teens women are aware of photoshopping practices, they still pine for the altered bodies they see everyday in magazines, ads, billboards etc.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a magazine that, even just ONCE A MONTH, promoted real bodies? As they are? With no digital alteration?
It’s not a perfect solution, but it is a step in the right direction. And you would think it’s not too much to ask (in fact, it may be just the kind of thing that boosts sales at a time when print media is struggling).
Excerpt via Modern Mom
Julia Bluhm, 14, has gotten more than 48,000 signatures for her online petition to “give girls images of real girls” in the pages of Seventeen magazine. The eighth-grader asked the magazine to commit to printing one unaltered photo spread per month.
In the petition written to persuade the editors, Bluhm wrote that girls are deeply influenced by the perfect images they see in the magazines and rip their own bodies and faces apart when they themselves fail to live up what they don’t realize are Photoshopped, airbrushed standards.
“Here’s what a lot of girls don’t know,” she wrote in the petition, “those ‘pretty women’ that we see in magazines are fake. They’re often Photoshopped, airbrushed and edited to look thinner, and to appear like they have perfect skin. A girl you see in a magazine probably looks a lot different in real life.”
“For the sake of all the struggling girls all over American, who read Seventeen and think these fake images are what they should be, I’m stepping up,” Bluhm continued.
A step in the right direction? Thoughts?
The heads of Vogue’s 19 international editions have come together to form a six-point pact which promises, among other things, to stop the practice of working with models younger than 16, or those who, at the editors’ discretion, are determined to be suffering from an eating disorder.
“Vogue editors around the world want the magazines to reflect their commitment to the health of the models who appear on the pages and the wellbeing of their readers,” Condé Nast International chairman Jonathan Newhouse said in a statement.
Please. Take 5 minutes to read, nod & fist pump along with this post. WORTH EVERY SECOND.
Bam. Ashley Judd, you are my hero.