Pop-Culture | Posted by Avigayil H on 03/2/2012

Giving It Up

If you had asked me six months ago if I was affected by the media’s presentation of women, I would have responded with an unequivocal no. Yes, TV and magazines bombard us with horribly warped images of what a woman is and should be, but after all, I’m a feminist. I can expose myself to images of impossibly skinny, tall, well-dressed teens and look at them with clear eyes and my self-esteem intact. I know they’re not real! Besides, I think I’m attractive already, and just like to read the fashion magazines for the outfits, and nothing else. So what if I skim over the “how to get a hot guy to hook up with you” sections? This stuff really can’t possibly have any effect on me!

This was my internal dialogue up until about four months ago, when I came home from a summer program where I hadn’t received my subscription to Lucky or checked out a copy of Seventeen or Teen Vogue from the library. It took me a while to realize that the little voice in my head when I looked in the mirror had started to say different things. I went from thinking “Oh, you look okay, today, I guess. You have a bit of a tummy and you really look much better when you put on makeup, but if you don’t have time it’s fine,” before my magazine hiatus, to “I look nice! I forgot how much I like this shirt!” or something similar afterwards. I feel happier with myself on a daily basis, and I’ve stopped spending so much time in front of the mirror at home and at school.

I thought that because I could identify what I was looking at in magazines that I was immune to it, but I was wrong. When my subscription to Lucky expired, I didn’t renew it. I’ve stopped getting Seventeen from the library. I only recently decided to give up magazines completely; I recently got a “complimentary issue” of Teen Vogue in the mail, and I tossed it in the recycling without opening it. I now bring my own book to read when waiting at the doctor’s office or to get a haircut, and I finally stopped watching Glee, which had been a guilty pleasure, but which I now realize contributes to making me feel bad about things I can’t change about myself (“I really wish I could sing and dance! Why don’t I look like them?’).

I never paid attention to the things I was telling myself about the way I look. I assumed that it was normal to not be completely happy with your appearance, and that even as feminists, we will always be insecure about our bodies. This is NOT TRUE. I am so much happier since I stopped the influx of negative messages, and I can only hope that one day society will accept that we have so many more important things to to with our bodies and talents than to “dress for your shape.”

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Rate this post

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Read other posts about: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Post Your Comment

  • Mary Joan Koch @ at 11:14 am, March 2nd, 2012

    Excellent post. I am 66, and I am so grateful I was never exposed to false images of beauty when I was growing up. My parents only subscribed to political journals. We did not have a TV until I was 13. The newspapers did not run fashion ads. I never subscribed to 17.

    I am horrified that my granddaughters, 3 and 2, will be exposed to far more unrealistic images that their mothers were (4 daughters, 39 to 29)

  • Zoe @ at 2:15 pm, March 2nd, 2012

    Have you read Bust magazine? It’s a fantastic alternative to regular glossy women’s magazines.

  • Liz @ at 11:26 pm, March 3rd, 2012

    Two thoughts –
    1) I am the class of “99” – and Mary’s speech on my 18yr old self in pop-rock form made a difference. I do not read beauty magazines and they do not make me feel ugly.\
    2)Read the Economist. Or some other “Man’s Magazine” like it. Pictures are few and content is full.

  • Jennifer @ at 12:45 am, March 7th, 2012

    Gosh, I love this post! I feel the same way at 37 — I get tons of women’s mags because I’m a freelance writer who needs to stay on top of the market, but I feel so much better about myself when I do two things: 1. Lay off the women’s mags; and 2. Hang out with vibrant older women. They’ve taught me that my wrinkles and “extra pounds” aren’t just okay, but beautiful. (Cheesy but true!)

  • Ari @ at 1:16 am, March 10th, 2012

    I really liked this article and I wish I had your strength to give up magazines (I’m addicted to Glamour).

    I do however think that it’s perfectly normal to watch a show like Glee, Smash or So You Think You Can Dance and say ‘I wish I could sing and dance”. I personally don’t see that as a self-esteem issue, it’s just being envious of someone’s else talent. Granted we need to recognize our own gifts but shows like those simply provide a venue to appreciate other peoples’ gifts.

Leave a Reply