Friday, March 12, 2010

She is beautiful as she is

What does the “ideal” body mean?
For most of women especially for young women, one of the most important criteria for “ideal” body is thinness. Today, they are always under the pressure to be thin. In this country, women are embedded in their brain by advertisers and media that they cannot be accepted by the society unless they are thin. They see advertisements featuring super-skinny models in magazines and TV commercials everyday and compare them with their own bodies, and then feel depressed. As a result, they become obsessed with their weight, size, and self-hurting diets even though their size and weight are average.

Their insecurities, frustration, anxiety, and body-hatred, all of these negative emotions turn into the huge benefits for advertisers. Advertisers carefully observe what women are afraid of, and create ads which efficiently appeal to the vulnerabilities. They deliberately widen the gap between the real women and “something that is not only trivial but also completely unattainable” (The More You Subtract, The More You Add by Jean Kilbourne) in ads (imaginary world), so the sense of insecurity let the vulnerable women spend their money on the products which insists they can help those desperate women to look better. Kilbourne states, in her article Beauty and the Beast of Advertising, “She is made to feel dissatisfied and ashamed of herself, whether she tries to achieve ‘the look’ or not.”

However, the thinness has become a controversial topic among media, advertising, and the fashion industry. Because such advertisements encourage dangerous and self-hurting diets, as a result, anorexia, bulima, and any eating-disorder can be caused. Fortunately, some people have begun to realize that ultra-skinny models in ads are creatures in the imaginary worlds and reconsider the idea of what the real and healthy women are.

So how much longer do we have to be exposed to those super-skinny models and be compelled to feel shame on our own bodies?
Now, we need some healthy looking women who look more like us instead of women who don’t exist in the real world.

The alternative to thinness on ads and media seems to be one: Non-thinness.

I hope you remember a woman called Lizzi Miller. If not, let me introduce her. In 2009 summer, she shocked the magazine and fashion industry and women in the U.S. with her nude appeared in the September issue of Glamour magazine. At the time the photo was taken, she weighted 180lbs and her size was 12 to 14, but she didn’t hide anything. The photo showed her shining smile, beautiful blond hair, and curvy body with belly roll spilling over. Immediately after the issue coming out, Glamour magazine received a flood of positive comments on the photo by the readers. Some of them said that it was the first time to see such a beautiful woman who has a stomach that looks like theirs in magazines and feel good about their own bodies, looking at the photo. The feedback from the readers about the “real” looking woman was overwhelming and it made the media and advertisers reconsider what their female targets really want.

I think that it is the time to reconstruct not only the society which have been filled with the ideas and normality which media and advertisers have constructed for their benefits but also our minds concreted with the “unusual” normality.

Lizzi Miller is a good example of the alternative to thinness. She proved how much women wanted to see female figures who look like them and feel they are not the “unacceptable”. While super-skinny models give us anxieties, depression and self-hatred, Lizzi Miller gave us a sense of security, hope and self-esteem. We women have begun to realize that images are images, models are models, and we are we. Advertisers and media should realize that women are cleaver and beautiful as they are.

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