Feminism | Posted by Hannah S on 08/26/2010

Struggling With Body Image

Crystal Renn: a role model or a blip on the skinny radar?

Crystal Renn: a role model or a blip on the skinny radar?

I’m not happy with the way I look. I may tell you that I am, but I’m not. I constantly worry if I’m too fat to wear certain clothes, too fat to be desirable, too fat to be beautiful. Who should I turn to for support? My friends? My family?

They feel exactly the same way. All of them, every single person I know says the same thing, that thinness is interchangeable with beauty, that skinny=good and “fat” = bad.

Some teenage girls live in a world where nobody, and I mean nobody, can offer support if they’re worried about their body.

Blame the media. Blame my friends. Blame the media for influencing my friends.

I don’t care who you blame because, I don’t see a way to change it anymore. It doesn’t seem to matter how many “real women” get held up as role models for good body image. Crystal Renn? Fat. Christina Hendricks? Yeah, right. My friends think she’s fat too. I found it a struggle to even think of famous women with “real bodies” that are considered role models. When did skinny become code for pretty, perfect, desirable? Flicking through a fashion magazine, I hear my friends cry, “She’s so skinny!”, as if that was something to aspire to, an ideal kind of body, and not an unrealistic image that’s been doctored to fit a certain look- super thin, poreless, smooth, perfect, beautiful people. There are no too-prominent collarbones or sunken, hollow cheeks, there’s no sallow skin or jarringly obvious ribcages. It’s all been brushed over with the magic wand of photoshop, hiding the reality of being THAT skinny. The media doesn’t want to admit that being thin doesn’t always equal being pretty. The world doesn’t want to admit that someone can be “fat” and pretty.

And honestly? I want to be happy with my weight. I want to love my body.

It’s harder than it sounds. So much harder.

We get bombarded daily with reminders that we’re not good enough, not slim enough, that our skin isn’t smooth enough, our hair isn’t shiny enough, our faces aren’t pretty enough. It’s everywhere. Advertising. Television. Magazines. Clothes stores. Friends. Family. Acquaintances.

Why can’t people just…stop?

Why have we all been brainwashed into idolizing the bodies of models?

Let people love their bodies. Everyone’s unique.

Fat is good.

Skinny is good.

Whatever shape or size you are, you should be accepted by society.

It’s a cliché, saying that.

I just wish it could actually happen.

Hannah writes her own style blog with her friend Naomi, Style Hawkers

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  • Zahira S @ at 11:48 am, August 26th, 2010

    This brought tears to my eyes, because it’s so true. I, myself, am so uncomfortable with my body-weight.

  • Maureen @ at 12:02 pm, August 26th, 2010

    Hannah,

    It may not seem like much, but I couldn’t believe how much better I felt about myself after I stopped reading fashion magazines. Now I read Bust, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and sometimes Wired. But no more Glamour, Self, Vogue, Cosmo, whatever. It’s one small change that helped me. And you can get your fashion advice online! I love independent fashion blogs:

    http://www.fashioni.st/
    http://styledefined.blogspot.com/
    http://www.hel-looks.com/

    – Maureen

  • Ryan @ at 1:28 pm, August 26th, 2010

    I think this is a predicament both sexes find ourselves in but for different reasons.

    As a man I am just as worried that I’m not successful enough. Most men do, we just don’t talk about it, especially to women.

    The sexes feel this way about things we know are important to the opposite sex.

  • Miriam @ at 5:21 pm, August 26th, 2010

    Great article. I agree.

  • A @ at 6:18 pm, August 26th, 2010

    Hannah, thank you so much for this article. I could have written it; it was so true to how I see myself and the media. Thank you.

  • Danny @ at 7:38 pm, August 26th, 2010

    I’m a guy, and I’ve discussed this with about a thousand other guys, and I really don’t know about your friends, but the majority of guys I know say that a lot of models today are too skinny. I’ve heard it pointed out plenty of times that girls look SO much better when they have a decent weight. The stick-figures may look okay in magazines sometimes, but quite often we don’t understand why they try so hard when they were prettier before they starved themselves.

    And I’ll be frank, I’m not the type of guy who likes weighter girls because they’re better endowed; It’s true, they tend to be, and that’s pleasant, but even that isn’t wholly why I find a non-stick figure attractive. The human body, and especially the female figure, is supposed to be curvy, it is supposed to have a shape. Sunken cheeks and caved in stomachs aren’t attractive.

    If you’re one of those girls who’s naturally sickly skinny, trust me, there are people who find you beautiful. If you’re one of those girls who weighs a bit more, I can guarantee there are people who think you are beautiful. The media likes to streamline whichever makes the most money, but if girls would talk to the guys they’re trying to impress, they’d realize that every guy has a different taste that meets every spectrum of the girls around us.

  • blakerivers @ at 1:32 am, August 27th, 2010

    This is a very nice article, thank you Hannah S.

    I don’t think that either loving your body or hating your body are the only two options. As strange as this sounds, both are actually kind of narcissistic. Maybe it doesn’t really matter if you’re sitting in front of the vanity mirror and loving yourself or sitting in front of the vanity mirror and hating yourself; the point is, you shouldn’t be sitting in front of the vanity mirror! Maybe it would be good for many people to be a little more indifferent to their body image.

    “I am what I am, and it works just fine. I don’t have to think about the visual appeal of my body constantly because its functionality is far more important anyway.”

    Maybe that should be the philosophy. I’m not saying that self-love is bad; to the contrary, it’s good and important, but excess concern over body-image is foolish. Just my thoughts.

  • Toongrrl @ at 7:29 pm, August 30th, 2010

    Wow. I can’t believe all this…no wait…it’s been happening since I was young. The “Baywatch” standard was held up as the epitome of female beauty even before I was born (1990)and I was naively hoping that things are changing.
    Dammit…

  • Ariel @ at 4:42 pm, September 27th, 2010

    I completely agree that the media’s narrow definition of beauty is ridiculous. Most girls with never be a size two, at least not a healthy size two. And Christina Hendricks, “fat”? Okay, I’m such a stereotypical lesbian, posting on a feminist blog, but seriously, I want a piece of THAT! I have friends who are naturally thick and naturally thin; none of them are actually overweight. I think we ought to focus on health; when you feel good, you look good, as cheesy as that sounds. And damn, Christina Hendricks is HOT…Mr. Sterling, May I Have a Slice of that??? ;)

  • LV Handbags @ at 9:36 am, February 11th, 2011

    I ‘ve gotta to add this to my blog!

  • Missy @ at 12:05 am, September 7th, 2011

    I totally agree with what blakerivers said! Hating and loving your body are two extremes… and neither of them are any good for you.
    I also struggled with my body during my teen years and the hate was exacerbated by my obsession with teen shows flaunting very toned and thin bodies. I will admit that one of the biggest factors that helped me on the road to self-acceptance was seeing a female public figure who I personally perceived, had the body that I had. That wasn’t a good phase in my life either, as I went from an angry, bitter, deeply insecure girl, to one that was conceited and even more deeply insecure. It sucked and I’m not sure if it comes with age, but nowadays, I genuinely love my body. I respect it, and I think because of this, it respects me right back.

  • Eden @ at 11:53 pm, April 8th, 2012

    Okay i just have to say thanks to a couple of people here. (Sorry I realize this article was written a long time ago but I just was introduced to the site.)

    First @Danny, that made me feel so much better about myself. I’ve never really dated anyone and one of the things I attribute to that is my weight, even though most people say I’m fine the way I am. Having a guy say that not all guys like the stick figure models just knocks some sense back into me and makes me feel a lot better.

    And as for the comment about Christina Hendricks? I’d never heard of her before this entry but I just looked her up and I think she just became a role model to me or something. She makes me feel so much better about myself because she’s my size and GORGEOUS! Haha so thanks everyone. You made me feel so much better about myself.

  • Naveen @ at 8:43 pm, March 28th, 2013

    I agree. My best friend loves to look at celebrity magazines and she is always like “OMG she is so thin!!! I’m so fat”. That makes me feel even worse about myself as she is what you might say thinner than me and no matter how many times I tell her that she is perfect they way she is and if a guy rejects her for the way she looks, that guy is stupid. However, she still feels that she has to conform to society.
    However, I just want to thank you for writing this short article. It has made me feel way better about myself.

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