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False inspiration: advertisers capitalize on "uplifting" size/shape articles.

Posted on 2010.04.18 at 19:46
Current Location: Somewhere near horses
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I'd call it an epidemic if I weren't so tired of that word being misused in the last few years, but the prevalence of body-image "inspiration" stories from "break away" industries is pissing me off.

Here's an idea: don't care. Don't care about looking a certain way. You're told to look a certain way to achieve a form of satisfaction that can only be achieved by "the latest and newest" cosmetics trends: absolutely nobody looks like a model without makeup, so even the current preferred body types still have to spend to feel worth anything. I know gorgeous women who fit the exact body ideals other people crave that cannot leave their bathrooms in the morning until they've covered their faces with makeup. That bothers me---why? Because it's proof that we're all gullible, conditioned sheep. If you cater to this stuff, you are not going to be happy, because even if you achieve all you can do to be "ideal," there will always be a feeling, in the back of your mind, that it's not enough.

I ran across an article about men suddenly admitting to supposedly preferring "curvy" women over "boyishly thin" women, and my first reaction to it was to snarl at the image of the "size 8, 12, and 16" women on the front. Why? Because it's a subtle re-enforcement that you, that we, will never be "good enough." The airbrushed, tan size 8 model is radiant---she glows happy and confident, one leg elevated for modesty's sake (they're all naked and using hands to cover themselves)she looks like she knows that she's great---lucky, lucky woman. Who is apparently "too thin"o  and not an ideal. The preferred size, 12 (an 8 or 10 in Canada) as "chosen" by the readers, is facing away, a sign of embarrassment or shame, in a not so subtle manner. That's the ideal? This shy little creature, who won't even face the camera? Hm. The next one, I feel, is radiant as well, at a size 16 (12-14 in Canada) but in a more subtle, "womanly" way with her curves curving and more evocative smile displaying the full frontal swells of her body. She's shown as the national average, and is dim and pale next to the glowing glory of the centerpiece: the size 8. The "ideal" isn't looking at the page, isn't looking anywhere other than away, and all you see to compare with is an airbrushed back, free of any individual markings, and a smooth bum and set of thighs.

What's my point? It's a subliminal, quiet "shame" on the people who relate to every one of them. The idea is off to the left, hiding the front of her body. Not only is she showing shame or fear in her body psture, but it's a quiet comment on the attitude of this "ideal" being shunned off to that side. The middle lady is slapped down superficially, though she's glowing and clearly in the position for success: the middle of the page, in the power-position. The girl they've declared the average, though "too big" looks confident, but the words destroy what's shown. What is that telling you, other than "we're full of shit?" The airbrushing of the thighs, bellies, bums, pubes, hands, and other body parts to smooth them out is another display of superficiality.

Every detail in the content of advertisement/media photos is important: as someone who understands advertising and who has a single semester left to complete in her Communications degree, I have the background to tell you that. Every detail. Advertising is a HUGE industry, and it is full of brilliant people who understand how we think and learn: by comparison. Why? We are SOCIAL ANIMALS. We compete beyond the basic "you're in my territory, get out" way, we actually compee within our social troupes for status and position. We've also been conditioned to: we all have, in every culture, grown up with "act like..." and "why can't you just be more like..." floating in our heads, grooming us to become "civil" members of our respective societies.

Doesn't matter what your gender is, the above is true. We are conditioned---yet it's women that receive the largest focus on our personal insecurities, and it's women who are most capitalized on with the cosmetic industries. If you don't buy a certain product, you're not "realizing your worth," ergo buying to improve is equated with happiness, but that economic model is a whole other globe-sized issue.

The article then goes to pick a few people who supplement their words, but not the photo, which is worth far more as an "example," and scatters some statistics.

So I responded with this:

Here, I dare you to post this:

If this is aimed to make self-conscious people feel better about themselves, so they can relate to the models, then why did you airbrush them? Whomever did the work did a really sloppy job, as you can see where their hands were slimmed, pubes removed and thighs smoothed. Why is the "ideal model" hiding herself away like she's ashamed? Why is the "media ideal" size 8 most confident in the middle if she isn't "ideal?" Congratulations, you've managed to find a way to suggest we're all "not right" in fewer words.

I'm a thickly build female in Canada, and my thighs, and my fellow thick friends thighs do not look anything like that. Is cellulite something to be ashamed of? Muscles? Stretch marks? Pubic hair? Slim builds? Thick builds? Body markings? Pale skin? Who says so? This is disappointing, and I'm once-again disgusted with how low advertisers will go to fake an "image boosting inspiration article" to increase sales. This is as bad as the "Dove Campaign for real beauty" that lied through their teeth for sales purposes, or that "How to look good naked" show everyone seems to adore, and never seem to call them on their blatant statements that you have to buy well to be worth something.

Why not try saying "ignore advertisements and magazines that tell you to care about the opinions of a million men and women you won't ever meet and go live your life, instead of trying to achieve a sense of self-worth through the opinions of a few people whose opinions aren't worth your trouble anyways?" Oh wait, our advertising industries thrive on that, of course you're going to force-feed us that.

Why do any of us give a flying shit about someone elses opinions? Every individual has different tastes, people, it's up to individuals to radiate however they want to. If someone only likes the size 8 body type, and anyone else is a fat cow, why would someone who is a size 12 want to be around them? Are we really only worth a current trend? The size 8 model is the only one who looks genuinely pleased and confident, whereas the other two have found a way to hide more or smile less. Oh yes, we're all falling for this "inspiring" shit. Clearly.

How many old couples do you know who are both short and both considerably fat? I know loads, and they're all happy with each other and themselves. How many old couples do you know who are tall and thin? I know loads of them who are, again, happy as can be. Why? Because they're old enough to know not to give a damn about body image.

I doubt it will be posted. I really do, because instead of being catty and narrow minded and bitching about whether they're wrong or right in their "ideas of ideals," I went directly at the people supporting this divide. Divide and conquer isn't just a military tactic. No, the world isn't out to get us, but anyone who stands to make money off of our cultivated, manufactured insecurities would be a fool not to. Challenge me, please, I love it when people do.

I am 5'8" and 215 lbs of thickly-built muscle and fat: I have bigger hands than most men I know, and small fat handles on my back. That is my physical self: I have been called "skinny bitch" and "heifer" in the same day on more than one occasion, and really don't care, because it's all a stupid/brilliant advertising ploy. I was extremely fit once, and I was miserable about it because it wasn't enough. My current physical self is something that will never be "ideal," and I'm happy, because I will never have anything even close to compare myself to. I was recently thrown from a horse, twice, in two bad falls (broke two helmets in three days) but I am built so solidly that I was able to re-mount within a minute or two and suffered nothing worse than sore ribs for a couple of weeks. Find "female tank" as a "physical beauty ideal" in a magazine somewhere and I will be so surprised I may not know how to respond. Hell, find that in any culture and I will be surprised. Soft and supple, firm and toned, yeah, but never "hard-packed muscle with a cushion." I am glad of that.

Yet I know I just flat do it for some people. There are a lot more people who find me repulsive. I don't really care. You like me? Let me know, I'll flirt back. You don't? Let me know, and I still won't care. We are individuals, and as soon as we realize that nobody follows that conformity shit in the media and each person has unique tastes, we'll slowly become happier people. Maybe. Maybe we're so conditioned to be unhappy that we'll just find something else for those brilliant social engineers in the ad world to capitalize on.

Update: I found this website a little while ago and was both thrilled to see something like it exists, and terribly sad at the comments young women were making about their fears about abnormalities... insecurity is part of being young, but THIS is the reality that magazines are too afraid to show for revenue-related reasons.



Love: hate as me: you
elevenless at 2010-04-29 20:14 (UTC) (Link)
Wow. Holy shit wow. I don't believe there has ever been a time where I have felt more pride to know someone than now. You are an inspiration.
bergesca at 2010-05-10 03:56 (UTC) (Link)
The feeling is mutual. =)
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