Looking Towards the Future and Beyond Beauty Alone

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Beyond Beauty and Body Image Panelists

Beyond Beauty and Body Image Panelists: (from left to right) Yashar Ali, Marie Denee, Emily Musil Church, Melanie Klein, Chenese Lewis, Marquita Thomas, Pia Guerrero, Hugo Schwyzer, and Seth Matlins.

By Melanie Klein

They say “love don’t pay the rent.” Love is undeniably the foundation of any healthy relationship, but it is by no means the only essential ingredient to keep that relationship humming smoothly. The same rules apply to the relationship with our bodies—relationships often complicated, contradictory and influenced by the incessant voices from those outside the nucleus of that union.

Establishing a healthy body image and creating a positive relationship with our bodies absolutely requires a sturdy foundation built on love and respect. Banishing the negative self-speak—the fat talk and body bashing—and replacing it with positive affirmations is a vital step in that direction. There is no doubt that body-love is a key ingredient.

But is that all?

Well, no. Love Your Body Day’s Beyond Beauty and Body Image Panel Discussion, moderator, Pia Guerrero, and Hollywood’s Love Your Body Day organizer, Chenese Lewis, brought together panelists last Sunday in West Hollywood, including myself, to expand the mainstream conversation which seems perpetually stuck in affirming physical attractiveness. Together we discussed the broader social and political implications of body image. While new in the mainstream, the intersection of body image, beauty, consumerism and media is not a new conversation. In fact, the Media Education Foundation has produced several films exploring this intersection for years. These conversations, films, and the activist work accompanying them have largely been confined to educational, academic and progressive settings. To create massive change, the discussion must become mainstream and that mainstream conversation must be nuanced—a difficult task due to mainstream media’s love of sound bytes over complexity. Fortunately, the body image movement is steadily growing in popular culture, but its time to move beyond the cultivation of body-love and appearance. And as panelist, Marie Denee of the Curvy Fashionista, noted that the sexualization of plus-size women–as American Apparel has done–only creates separate but equal amounts of objectification.

The mainstream success and appeal of films like America the Beautiful2: The Thin Commandments and Miss Representation are positive signs for the body image movement. Unfortunately, while America the Beautiful2 examines the myth of the BMI, the diet industry and the dangerous compromise many make in the pursuit of thinness, it perpetuates the same reductive and one-dimensional analysis. It does not delve into a robust examination of the impact of the media, the role of the advertising industry or provide solutions beyond “love yourself.” On the flipside, Miss Representation is the first complex analysis of media representations of women offered to a wide public audience via OWN—and it just aired last week. Due to its success the film is airing again in November.

Clearly, the inroads are just being made with a mass audience and we need to be mindful of how these inroads are created and what solutions are offered. A thorough analysis requires the movement to examine the issues within a system of patriarchy, shining a light on sexism and misogyny, while employing critical media literacy skills. Low self-esteem and body image issues are not individual problems created in isolation. As such, the conversation and solutions must be forged in this context.

As Sunday’s panel discussed, beauty itself isn’t the oppressor. Standards and measures of beauty have always existed and they will continue to exist. Beauty is only the beast because, as panelist Hugo Schwyzer points out, mainstream standards of beauty are incredibly narrow and one-dimensional. Rather than eliminating beauty and the desire for beauty, the goal must be to inflate that definition beyond its current boundaries. As Schwyzer states, “It’s to expand the definition of what is beautiful by focusing on health and joy rather than on size alone.” To me, beauty is an emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical state of being. Our current beauty standards merely reflect a purely physical aesthetic, often dominated by a focus on size and Eurocentric beauty and body ideals.

Not only are the dominant standards of beauty suffocating in their extreme limitations, beauty is framed as the sole measure of worth for girls and women, as well as the only worthy aspiration. It negates and restricts all other vehicles of self-actualization and agency, such as the validation of intellect, self-expression, and social engagement. As witnessed this week, Hillary Clinton may be Secretary of State with extraordinary accomplishments to her credit, but our culture negates and belittles her leadership by measuring her worth by her fashion sense and her scrunchies. As Jennifer L. Pozner, director of WIMN’s Voices and author of Reality Bites Back, argues in a recent interview with the Daily Beast, “When girls look to the media for models they can achieve in the real world, they see newspapers and TV anchors talking about female politicians’ haircuts and fashion choices.” In Miss Representation, Pozner ponders the message that sent to girls and women when the medithe most influential and powerful women in the world berated and limited by media representations.

Historically, a woman’s waist size, weight or hotness quotient wasn’t always the definitive aspect of her being or value. Yes, women’s beauty was corseted and bustled in the recent Victorian past, but she was also measured by her commitment to the church, her community, mothering or her grace. All gender-specific to be sure and arguably oppressive, but they did represent a broader value system.

As Sunday’s panel agreed, beauty isn’t the problem. It’s our culture’s obsession with creating unrealistic and falsified images of beauty. It’s the double-standard. It’s the exorbitant cost to chase the beauty myth. It’s the damage to one’s physical and mental health by waging war on the body in an effort to punish it into submission. It’s the ways in which these Eurocentric beauty standards maintain other forms of inequality. It’s the lack of choice and control. As panelist Emily Musil Church points out, it’s having a bunch of men define female beauty, objectify and sexualize the female body (a standard misogynistic tactic of patriarchy) and package it for sale as female empowerment. And that’s just ass backwards.

In our quest to expand beauty, we must confront the commodification and co-optation of beauty. It is the profit-driven and commercialized images of unrealistic beauty that are equal opportunity self-esteem destroyers across race, class, age, sex, sexual orientation and ability. To move forward, we must recognize our shared struggle and work together in collaborative ways to meet our goals. And one of those goals is to navigate these giant commercial forces in thoughtful ways, convincing them, as Seth Matlins, of Off Our Chests, emphasized during the panel, that commerce and consciousness can work together-and that it can be profitable. And in this effort, we must remain vigilant to the movement and not allow positive body image messages to become merely bumper sticker slogans or empty epithets.

We must all do the work of consciousness-raising. We must examine the myriad of ways body shame is created and perpetuated in our families, our peer groups, by the fashion industry, the beauty industrial complex and the diet industry. We must point out the contradictions and failed efforts. A magazine that encourages women to love their bodies while putting highly sexualized images from the same mold on the cover and throughout it’s pages doesn’t cut it. We must take responsibility for what we say and do in our relationships and families, being mindful of the behaviors we model for our children. We need to be conscious of our levels of mediation—what and how much are we taking in? I am a huge proponent of limiting, or at the very least, decreasing that exposure. This isn’t necessarily easy but these efforts must be made in order to make the movement stronger, more inclusive and truly liberating.

After all, in this struggling democracy, there are other fish to fry. We can’t even begin to address those if we’re still fixated on the size and shape of our ass or the firmness of our thighs and breasts. To become liberated from oppressive and limiting standards of beauty frees us to commit ourselves to our families, communities and the world in more full and complete ways. Last I checked, the Equal Rights Amendment still hasn’t been passed.

Editor’s Note: Beyond Beauty and Body Image: Top bloggers and social media experts discuss what are the broader social and political consequences of our image driven culture?

Event Host

Chenese Lewis and Hollywood NOW

Moderator

Pia Guerrero, Adios Barbie

Panelists

Yashar Ali, The Current Conscious

Emily Musil Church, Ms. Magazine Blogger

Marie Denee, The Curvy Fashionista

Melanie Klein, Feminist Fatale

Seth Matlins, Off Our Chests

Marquita Thomas, President, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce

Hugo Schwyzer

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Mary Marrone says:

    Thank you for the article!! Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, you don’t have to be a size zero. This kind of takes the pressure off, but I would still like to be thin. I have notice a difference in mood and behavior when I have lost weight. I have been battling with weight my entire life. I always seem to fluctuate and never stay constant. This article relieves some of the pressure to be thin. This article addresses the standards of beauty and how the media has an influence.
    One has to remember that beauty is not set in stone. What is considered beauty today can be ugly tomorrow.

  2. Melody S. says:

    It is true beauty is not the problem. It is the one dimensional nature of beauty in our society that is troublesome. The idea that skinny and light skinned, European looking women are favored and considered beautiful is disastrous considering the melting pot of various cultures and people we have living in the United States. We need women to ban together and sisterhood to prevail in order to spark a movement to widen the scope of beauty today. I agree that consciousness raising is one of the most important actions the female community can take to figure out the root of all body image problems and how to combat them. We need to urge society that we are not defined by our appearance and that we are so much more than that. It has never been easy on women but at least in the 1800′s a woman’s kindness, charity, and good heart were important in judgement of women as opposed to nowadays in which looks are alone.

  3. Benjamin B says:

    The image of beauty is constantly changing with time. Hundreds of years ago, men and women were considered “beautiful” if they were a bit overweight, which showed signs of wealth, because they could afford to eat. Now, the media displays beauty in unhealthy standards of thinness. I agree when the article states that we need to have a mainstream conversation about the definition of beauty. On the same note, we should support classes in middle school, high school, and college that emphasize on the medias power and control of our thoughts and beliefs. Before taking a Women’s Studies course, I never was really aware about such issues. I believe that beauty should be based on other standards rather than the physical self. As the article points out in the Victorian ages, a woman was judged by her commitment to the church and grace as a mother, both values not apparent through physical beauty. I think we should teach our youth at a young age not to be fazed by the medias pressure on us. Additionally, I agree that our culture strives on creating unrealistic images to compare ourselves against, which is a major issue. If we can start setting realistic goals for ourselves, then we wont have impossible standards to struggle for.

  4. Natalie P says:

    In the last two years I have taken steps to move beyond shame and secrecy about my mental, physical and emotional issues. For so long I had hidden my illnesses and often suffered alone. It seemed the only place I could talk about these issues was with professionals or in circles of people who were similarly afflicted. Like the post describes, the conversation about body image, beauty, the diet industry, media and the damage to women’s mental and physical health, is confined to progressive settings and institutions of education. When I started to share my struggles with people outside of therapy settings, including my parents, siblings, friends and groups of people who were very unaware of the issues surrounding eating disorders and mental and physical illnesses, I felt empowered. At first I was startled by their ignorance, their assumptions and their lack of awareness, but it has become clear to me that in order to create substantial change in our society’s views and values with respect to women and their bodies, we need courageous women and men to step out of the shadows and speak up. I feel that I too have a responsibility to share with others and extend the support and knowledge I have gained along the road of recovery. If we cannot learn to love ourselves, or banish the shame we carry around with us, mostly as women, we cannot effectively extend the messages of hope, love and change to others.

  5. I really enjoyed reading this article because it praises on what the real ideal body should be and that is not a size 0 which many women aspire to be. The media and society portray beauty as being something that many women are not. Being comfortable in your own no matter how big you are i believe is what makes you beautiful. But because we are bombarded with images in magazines and on tv of women who are highly sexualized and are skinny, white, with blue eyes women see that as the ideal beauty but it is not true. All women are different and beautiful in their own ways, wither you are a size 2 or a size 14 all women should be comfortable with who they are regardless of your class, sex, age, race everybody is beautiful in their unique way no matter what society says and that should be encouraged.

  6. Salina G. says:

    It is very nice to know that there are programs that make the effort to spend the time to talk and educate the younger generation about how they should love and appreciate their body. These are baby steps in the right direction and if only media and celebrities would jump on board, we might not have such devastating number of women, men, and children who are suffering from some kind of eating and/or mental disorder. If only we had programs in school to educate elementary, middle, and high school students about self-love, self-esteem, self-affirmations. Because it may well be that children are not receiving this type of education at home by their caregivers. It’s just like teaching children to walk, talk, and ask for things; we need to teach them how to love themselves for who they are, and it starts while they are young.

  7. Destiny O says:

    I enjoyed reading this article because it makes an important point: beauty is not the problem; it’s our idea of what beauty is that is the problem. I don’t think we will ever be able to get away from beauty, therefore we need to broaden what we say is beautiful. I agree with the article’s statement that our idea of beautiful is so narrow and limiting. What is known to be beautiful today is to be skinny, be sexy, and to look white. Obviously, not everyone in our society is skinny or white so this leaves a huge portion of our population feeling unsatisfied about their appearance, not good enough and not sexy. Our idea of beauty needs to span to all different waist sizes, bust sizes, butt sizes, thigh sizes, skin color, eye color, eye shape, hair color, and hair texture. We will continue to be born all looking different so we need messages that tell us that we are all beautiful not just white, skinny people. Beauty should be about being healthy, respecting your body, and being happy with yourself. I wish that our society would put more emphasis on being an honest person, loyal, nurturing, and emphatic rather than that the best people in the world are the ones who are a size zero and look like a Barbie. The most important traits should be about loving others and respect rather than if you look like porn store or not. -D.O.

  8. Rosemary A says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. It brings up the many issues we are talking about in our Women’s Studies class, showing how much the media cultivates us women and our mindsets about how the society expects us to be. The media accomplishes this by creating an unrealistic image of beauty for women where it only leads them to lose their confidence and do everything to achieve that image. It’s really such a shame that the media is able to have such a power over us women and society. We need to learn to respect our bodies and know that no one is perfect, not even these celebrities.

  9. Brianda Bobadilla WS10 says:

    I admit I use to buy into the Eurocentric standard of beauty set up by the mainstream media. I use to judge myself head to toe telling myself what I could do to improve my image. I remember going to Macy’s beauty counter and buying the latest cream, moisturizer, serum, exfoliator, etc…that guaranteed to enhance my “natural beauty.” To make matters worse, while watching TV, flipping through a magazine, or just driving down the street my mother always had to compare me to women in the media. I thought my mother was right, I had to do something about my body, and fast. I always told myself that there weren’t any girls my size on magazines or billboards because that wasn’t what a real women looked like. But now I’ve realize that I have to develop self-love in order to move past these body image problems. As I was working towards what I like to refer to as my recovery, my mother had once again told me I should be looking like that lingerie model on TV, in front of all the family on thanksgiving dinner. Normally this would have disturbed me, ruined the rest of the year for me, I would have gone to my room and cried my eyes out but instead of letting her comment get to me, I told her to clearly look at those model, and to determine if having those bodies were even possible to obtain without plastic surgery. Although I’m not proud on how I got my mom to realize that she was comparing me to an unrealistic standard of beauty, I’m glad that we both have come passed it.

  10. Asal Natalie A says:

    I completely agree with the message that this articel is trying to send out. I find myself struggling with the same concerns when I flip through a womens magazine. I believe what is comes down to is advertising and making money. Images of female bodies are everywhere. Women and not to mention their body parts sell everything from clothing to cars. Popular film and television actresses are becoming younger, taller and thinner and I think that this current obsession will unfortunately not fade away. When I read the typical women’s magazines I see articles that are full of urging women if they can just lose those last ten pounds, they’ll have it all, being the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career. I agree with this statement of the article that, “We must all do the work of consciousness-raising. We must examine the myriad of ways body shame is created and perpetuated in our families, our peer groups, by the fashion industry, the beauty industrial complex and the diet industry. We must point out the contradictions and failed efforts. A magazine that encourages women to love their bodies while putting highly sexualized images from the same mold on the cover and throughout it’s pages doesn’t cut it.” The barrage of messages about thinness, dieting and beauty tells ordinary women that they are always in need of adjustment and that the female body is an object to be perfected. I hope that as the panel agreed we can create some type of change to counter-affect these magazines.

  11. The years wasted of self hate and trying to fit into this cookie cutter image only destroyed my self worth as a teenager and young adult. How suffocating for a woman to truly believe that they are worthless if not naturally airbrushed picture perfect. We are tricked into this false sense of of beauty. Every picture, interview, movie, and tv show, are perfectly lit, perfectly cut, and of course done professionally in ever way. It is one of the most important things a person can do for them self, have a healthy body image. It is not only important for the self but important for having relationships. I love that Emily Musil Church pointed out that men define our beauty. It is so true! Some think we are out growing patriarchy, but we aren’t even close when this over sexualized, emaciated woman is the ideal beauty.

  12. I completely agree! So many people are blinded by the images placed by the media. People are try to fix this or do that, just to look like their icon when in reality it’s impossible to be that “perfect figure”. With so many women having surgery to fix flaws or add new structures, they will constantly be unsatisfied due to new changes that are constantly made by the media and as a result, they would never be happy with themselves. Like another comment that mentioned the gym, I always wanted to be sculpted and ripped like people that were placed in ads, so I joined the gym… but for the wrong reasons. Even though I eventually reached my goals, I was never satisfied because of the new changes in the media on what was great looking. I came to realize how I fell into the media’s grasp so I changed my mindset and went to the gym solely for getting healthy and fit through ju jitsu. Im sure this happens to people all the time but dont have the tools to see it. Our culture needs to be more diverse and correct the flaws our media has influenced us on.

  13. scharnell hendy says:

    This article made me realize how standards of beauty really effected my life. The standards of beauty still runs my life up to now. I feel like it made me obsessed with the way i look. I’ve been wearing hair extensions since the 11th grade because i feel like it makes me look better. If I feel that I look better i’m always going to be wearing them to make myself feel better about myself. When i don’t wear my hair extensions i’m always told what’s wrong you look bad today or when are you going to get your hair done.i just feel that the standard of beauty starts with someone with great hair so thats why i wear them. Me being so caught up in the way I looked,I stopped caring about more important things like school and work. It sucks how the media and our society are really harsh on girls for the way they look.

  14. With love comes respect, and with respect comes love. One cannot exist without the other. If a person cannot learn to love their own body, he/she will never be able to respect their body for the way it is. Instead, he/she will continue to worship their body with mass media influences in order to gain the public display that they desire. It is the media that forms and defines the ideal definition of beauty. Without the media, we would be looking upon our peers for references to beauty. I can almost be sure that the ideal portrayal of beauty would not be exactly the way we see it today.

  15. Thank you for this article! I think self love is very important in one’s life. How can you fully love somebody if you don’t love yourself? Being aware of one’s body is alright, but judging your body is not alright. Media is very powerful today and it is sad how much impact it has on people’, especially girls’, lives today. Media should not be setting the standards; women should be the standards to themselves. Beauty should be cherished and not viewed as a problem.

  16. I really enjoyed reading this article. It shows that women are greatly affected by the media and the media has made women insecure about practically every part of their body. Women are now consumed with the idea that they will never be skinny or pretty enough. The beauty portrayed be the media is unrealistic and it has influenced women to chase an unrealistic false image of beauty rather than realizing that they are in fact, already beautiful. It’s a shame that media has gained such power over the way women and men perceive themselves.

  17. scharnell hendy says:

    This article really speaks out to me. i remember being young and just always worrying about getting fat because i see how over weight women are looked down upon. when i was in the forth grade I started to worrying about what I looked like more then anything else . School was the last thing on my mind. The media and its messages and how our society is had a HUGE impact on the way i am and the way i think of myself. Reading this article really made me open my eyes. Its true how our society makes women feel like if they aren’t pretty enough your basically not worth shit. Its sad because a lot of little girls will grow up with that mindset. And it will be and on going cycle.

  18. This article opened my eyes to many of the issues brought up in Women Studies class. Girls are cultivated in our society to be beautiful and we consistently compare ourselves to the media. Our society always shows us different ways to beautify ourselves- by advertisements and commercials. Almost every commercial on TV is selling different items to beautify a person. In addition, so many commercials on TV are about different diets. The media always talks about different ways to improve oneself. Its shows that there is a standard for beauty, and we, girls, tend to try our best to fit in the standard of society.We are constructed every day through different messages. Women need to learn to respect their body, rather than always looking at their flaws and comparing it to the media. The media is a fiction world-it is a fantasy world. All those models we look up to are photo-shopped and full of make up.
    I completely understand this article, and i cant relate to it because i am a victim myself. i tried fitting into the standard for beauty. At age 15, i started dieting and going to the gym. i became obsessed with my weight, always stepping on the scale, watching what i eat, and sometimes barely eating if i did not exercise. I still watch what i eat and exercise, but now it is in a healthy way. it is very sad that society was able to brainwash me and cultivate me. Women have a lot of pressure to fit in and be beautiful.
    Yes, women should respect their own body. But that means to step outside the box. And that is a challenge we should be ready to take.

  19. Devanny Mckenzie says:

    This is a great article! It outlines exactly how a persons image in our society is perceived. The media is always talking about what Michelle Obama is wearing, her hairstyles and even how toned her arms are but never talk about her accomplishments. We have become a society obsessed with body image. While watching television you will see at least five commercials for weight loss programs or supplements. Women are typically who these ads are marketed too; men in our society are not judged as critically for being “overweight”. The Disney channel star Demi Lovato went to rehab for a body image disorder, she did not like the way she looked and it eventually effected her performance on the show. Some people hate their bodies because it does not look like what they see in the media. Slowly we are moving toward being accepting of different body types (not everyone wants to be skinny some people love their bodies the way they are) but it takes a strong person to look beyond what is shown in the media and appreciate their body the way it is. As Hugo Schwyzer points out, we need to expand our definition of what beauty is.

  20. I really love the comparison of how love is the foundation of any healthy relationship yet when we think about the relationship between us and our bodies, love doesnt seem to factor in. I never really thought about this, but now with this comparison, it makes so much sense! This really opened my eyes to how unhealthy peoples relationships with their bodies are. I do believe that definition of beauty needs to be expanded, people need to realize that what they are seeing in ads and the media are fake and photoshopped images. They don’t understand that it is an unrealistic.
    Its so sad that today a womens worth is based on only their looks. Women are never aknowledged for their accomplishments if it isnt about their looks. Something like being a mother use to factor into a womens worth my now a days that does not matter anymore.
    I really believe that in order to change this view we need to change the way we look at ourselves. we need to understand the effects of the media and learn what is real and what is not.

  21. Joshua Beroukhim says:

    The message of this article is great. We do need to raise the consciousness of people regarding the unattainable standards of beauty in this country. However, as the article pointed out, we need to be smart in how we try to bring about the consciousness. In order to cause permanent change, there must be deep roots and awareness regarding “true” beauty that are in place and being reinforced during the teen years. For example, I belive it is a parent’s job to educate their children regarding true beauty when they are growing up. However, it is the responsibility of schools and public organizations to reinforce the reinforce awareness during the teen years and beyond. As the “girl power” movement has shown, empty, weak attempts at educating the public will be either neutral or have a negative effect on the cause of bringing awareness.

  22. After taking my first Women’s Studies class at the of age 28, I realize that I have wasted the last ten years of my life! Obsessing about my weight, my ass, my cellulite. With every year, I felt less “sexy”, and desirable as a woman, simply because I could not compete anymore with a new body image, of an extremely skinny and young girl. As an actress, living in Los Angeles, my male friends didn’t help either. When discussing fellow colleagues and celebrities, my Russian friend Sergey likes to say:”Yes, she really takes care of herself!” “What am I then?! A sloppy, disgusting pig?” Apologetic, he would answer:”Of course not. She has the money and the time to put in.” All I hear, of course, is:”Your time has passed.”

    I think it is of great importance for women to realize that looks are NOT everything and hopefully at a certain point in life, we can be defined as more than a pretty face.

    Reading about Hillary Clinton’s media coverage, made me think of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, a woman not exactly known for her good looks. I remember, when she first got elected and the nasty things that were said about her. I participated, like everybody else. Instead of standing up for a woman and defending her brains, strength and determination to get, where no woman in my country got before, I happily joined the trash talk… Lesson learned.

  23. ivette martinez says:

    I am not a walking-plastic-doll, I do possess a brain, I am not white, I am not even 5’2 and I am not thin. I have just admit to myself that I should love myself the way I look, to accept and embrace everything I am. A person should want to better themselves not because of what they are being sold online, on ads or the media, they should want to better themselves because they want to be healthier and want to feel good about themselves. I look back at my younger years and can’t believe I wanted to look like a model, someone that was created by a computer… one at a time, we will succeed.

  24. It is impossible to be perfect in our society; women models set the standards to high to compete with. Even though these women do not actually look the way the are seen because they have been photo shopped. Beauty has become “life” to many women instead of something fun to do due to the standards set by the media.

  25. This post litterally ripped the words out of my mouth about societies idea of beauty. I cannot express how sick and tired I am about guys judging me due to the fact that I am not an anorexic barbie doll. I feel like the girls who should be disired within our society should be the intelligent, whitty, beautiful girls. Beauty is behind all the caked on makeup and personal trained butts!! I am busting my ass off in college, working full time in a crappy resturant to offer a man more then just my looks. I truly believe that when i am old enough to have children, I want to teach them the truth about beauty. Personality, drive for our goals along with love and respect for yourself and your body is what is important. If you even think about it, the majority of women in our society is not even up to “societies standards.” These barbie doll expecxtation’s are so unrealistic that it sickens me to even think about the girls who kill themselves over trying to become perfect. I refuse to ever pick up magazines and listen to those to become a girl that I am not.In the end i am thankful to ignore the stereotypes of societies definition of beauty!! I am beautiful whether society likes it or not!!!

  26. erin harris says:

    Beauty in today’s society like in this blog is set for unrealistic goals. People expect women to be a size double zero, with blonde hair, bid boobs, and blue eyes. No one cares about where they went to college, how there personality is, what they love to do or etc. As far as the weight regime, I am an athlete and do not look like the victoria secret supermodels, but I eat healthy and exercise regularly. My goal is not to be a size zero, its to be healthy and active.
    People see what you look like on the outside and might not even come up and talk to you and you could be the wealthiest, smartest, coolest person and they will lose out due to the fact that our society is based off physical appearance and attractiveness. I do believe that women need to work together to create a new stereotype of women, a stereotype of hardworking, creative, loving, fun and etc look at women. We are much more than the blue eyes that people see, we are people that work hard, have desires and goals and dreams. Much of which do not include being Miss California 2012.

  27. We do not love and respect our bodies enough because we are so concerned how society views our body and how worthy it makes us feel. To feel better over all, we must have a positive relationship with ourself. My mother did something when my sister and I were growing up that I never understood until recently. Every time someone would compliment my or my sisters looks, my mother would say thank and ALWAYS reply “they are also extremely intelligent and kind girls”. She never wanted us or other people to believe that our appearance was the most important thing. As I got older and started talking badly about my body, my mom would have me write positive affirmations about myself and put them on the bathroom mirror for me to see every morning. While at the time I though it was silly I am really appreciative of this. Every time I see the affirmations I do feel better about myself and I find it easier to block out the media. Fat talk is not an individual problem. As Melanie states, “discussion must become mainstream” – it is crucial in raising awareness and helping women.

  28. Neeloufar Mahrouyan says:

    I found this article to be of great interest. It is unfortunate that society and the media have created this bubble in which women are bombarded with images of what is “beautiful.” From a young age girls are raised with images of “beautiful” models and celebrities not knowing that these images being altered are far from reality. Women need to be acknowledge on other things such as personality and intelligence. Beauty goes beyond just the physical appearance; I believe that beauty is how Melanie Klein defines it to be “an emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical state of being.”

  29. Traci Vassallo says:

    As a young women who has been blinded by the media, I think that there should be more articles like this in magazine instead of how culture is portraying beauty out in the world. Growing up size didn’t relatively matter but when I got to middle school I know thats when I became pretty aware of my body. Especially through high school I went through many body images that were considered “perfect”, which of course was being skinny. Even to this day I hear my friends say “as long as you are skinny you are considered pretty”, which always worried me because I know I wasn’t skinny. We must take a huge change in the culture and really speak out to what is real beauty and what is not. Reinventing the word beauty is what we need.

  30. Angela Wheatfall says:

    Melanie speaks only the truth. “Very well written”, a message that needs to be carried on. This is a true eye opener to oneself. To always carry the message to love yourself every single time that you look into a mirror. I have a daughter. If only I can find a way to remind her to always love herself regardless of what other classmates may think or say. From the color of her skin, to her puffy hair. The best way that I would be able to remind her, is with a small, but powerfull statement. “You are beautiful in every way”. from the top of your head, to the bottoms of your feet”. Wouldn’t it be nice, if for just one whole entire day, the world would be blind. No tv shows to watch, nor magazines to read. Only then, would one be able to just stop and look at not only their real surroundings, but take a moment to themselves to really look at their true selves, and appreciate what they see from within.

  31. This Article is completely saying the truth because to me I feel its simply impossible to be perfect in this society because the standards of women these days are really high. This happens because of all the advertisements and commercials that are made about “beautiful women”. These women are normal just like every other women but with tons of makeup, better lighting, and Photoshop.

  32. Jessica Bilson says:

    I wish I could have attended this pannel! This is SUCH an important topic, and it sounds like there were some really great speakers. I am fortunate in that I am currently taking Melanie Klein’s Women and Pop Culture class, so these are not new topics of discussion, but I thoroghly enjoyed (and hated) reading this article. I enjoyed reading it because it’s people like professor Klein who inspire me to TAKE ACTION and gives me hope that MAYBE my children will see a moe realistic depiction of women in the media. And I hate reading this article because it so eloquently states just how messed up our culture is. I really loved what Melanie said about beauty: “To me, beauty is an emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical state of being.” If only THAT was the message that our children were getting from the media!!
    I am realizing just how much of an impact one can make in the world when that person is willing to educate, organize, and never back down to the media monster. I have always been someone to voice my thoughts and opinions about the negative impact that pop culture’s unrealistic and VERY narrow definition of beauty has on out society, and I have been constantly sharing what we are learning in class. I know that by educating those around me (even if I am just planting a seed of media literacy) I am taking action, but I know that I could potentially make a big difference if I become more active. This is a battle that must be fought in HUGE numbers, and I’d like to play a part in rallying the troops! LET’S DO THIS

  33. I enjoyed this article very much because it touches on so many subjects that need to be discussed more often. The definition of “beauty” today has gotten out of hand, and is completely out of control when a girl’s measurement of worth is determined by “beauty”… as it today. It solidifies how shallow our society is, and somehow we have got to be able to comes to terms with reality, realizing that these images we are drowning, in aren’t real. We will never become these images we see (everywhere), and would we really want too? There has to be more conversation, awareness, acceptance, and embracing the bodies we have. I’m excited about the possibility of more articles like this one, that bring the truth about the media and their intentions, the same intensions that are costing us a fortune, lowering our self-esteem and altering truth…That we will never be the (false images in the magazines), they don’t really exist. We are trying to compete against computer generated/enhance facades, and companies are making a fortune off of us. After reading this article, I know I need to work on accepting me for me!

  34. It’s so true that beauty encompasses so many things other than physical beauty. The shape and size of your waistline shouldn’t be the only factor when considering whether or not someone is beautiful. So many different physical attributes are valued and seen as beautiful depending on the historical period and culture. What is seen as beautiful in one culture might be less valued in another. Our definition of beauty is constantly shifting so instead of defining one attribute as beautiful, we need to start expanding our ideas of beauty.

  35. This article by Melanie Klein is very inspiring to me. After reading it, it really opened my eyes to how media portrays beauty. It is so true that beauty is mainly physical with the media and it’s also about having a nice, thin body. I, personally, have had some plastic surgery to change my physical appearance to be considered beautiful- which I do not regret at all-; however, it made me really think about why I wanted to change me physical appearance in the first place. Does it have something to do with me working in the Entertainment industry and the way they would like me to look? It really made me think. Melanie makes a lot of good points and that people need to love themselves whether they are plus-size or not. Also, how beauty is not just physical. She states that beauty to her is “beauty is an emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical state of being.” I completely agree with this.

  36. Kenny Kim says:

    After reading this post, I truly realize how socialization takes a big role in our lives. One similar post in which I read earlier, made an experiment in which two types of Barbie dolls were taken, one white and one black, and they were both presented to different ethnic and girls to decided which one they would choose to play with. Shockingly, almost all of the girls chose the white Barbie, even the African American girls chose the white Barbie’s and when they were asked why, they said that the black Barbie was weird. Another shocking experience was when I visited Korea over the winter. The first thing that I noticed was that everyone that i saw around the streets had done a nose job. Nose jobs in Korea and in many other Asian countries have become so common that it is not considered “plastic surgery” anymore, but a cosmetic commonality, like proactive. Not only is this a wake up call for us and our future generation, but I truly believe that we must spread that real idea of positive body image.

  37. Raymond B. says:

    For so long, the idea of the constraints of beauty has been the focus for many speakers against reinforcing beauty myths. I feel that reading this article helped me to understand what could actually be done. In the lectures where I have learned about the beauty myth, I often hear about deconstructing it and the ramifications it has on women, yet there has never really been an emphasis as to what we can do. To go beyond current definitions of beauty by expanding them is a very simple, yet effective idea. I have heard that the beauty myth should be eliminated and that no change can occur if it is not gone. To work with the system that oppresses, but to one’s advantage is a different spin that is actually possible. Since we live in a consumerist, patriarchal society that plagues people with images of unrealistic beauty, we need to expand on what beauty really is. The Dove commercials that promoted women to love themselves did so in a manner by showing women of all ages, body types, and backgrounds, but they were still women who would be considered pretty, which does exactly what those self-help type magazines do with their sexualized images throughout it. It is strange that even though some forms of media may be progressive, they still have an agenda behind it that doesn’t truly promote what women look like beyond the lighting and whatever else may have been done to those ads. It’s not only women, however, it’s men as well, but society does not put as great of an emphasis on men’s looks as it does women.

  38. This article speaks the hard truth. To be considered beautiful in this society is simply imposable because the standards for beauty are so unrealistically high. Additionally, i also think it is sad but true how a women’s worth is basically based on beauty. This article really made me think about the medias view of beauty and how we all really need to love ourselves more for who we are and not try to change our looks to fit the mold that men made.

  39. Mahsa Yaghoubi says:

    I came to the NOW : LOVE YOUR BODY and since then i have been trying to change the way that i view things because of the issues that they discussed and the way that they talked about the issues that have not just recently occured but that have been going on for ages. I could totally agree with everything that Ms. Klien has talked about in this article how women in the past generation weren’t just appreciated by the size of there waist, now the depth of women is measured by the size of there waist and the numbers on the scale. We are thought to look at beauty that is on the surface and not look at what is within. WE prejudge, and create and encourages these awful standards and stereotypes that are based upon us.
    we have to be aware of the fact that we arent ever going to meet up or measure up with medias standard and that we have to start to appreciate our bodies and what we really are.

  40. Kenia Corvera says:

    It is frightening to see how the media has taken over our beliefs of what the ideal body is. I’ve grown up with a family in which being fit is very important, not for the looks but for the health benefits. It is very true that back in the day women were not just valued by how they looked but also how they contributed to their community. Now we are judged solely on how we look. People assume our attitudes and personalities but just our appearance. The worse thing is how we contribute to these things. We have all been part of this situation and have tried to fit in to satisfy what our culture. Unless we are educated about these things, we wont see what actually matters. What actually matters is what we can do and not what we cant be. Being healthy should be the most important things to us. Unfortunately many times we don’t see how important out physical well-being is until we are prone to sicknesses.

  41. I actually attended this event, only problem was I thought it started at 5pm and was dropped off there at 4:45pm only to fine out that it started at 2:00pm.
    At my age you would think that I would have tuff skin by now, but Nope i am one of those who has hidden behind the fat girl image for quite sometime now. In high school I was the pretty shy girl who didn’t mind participating in school actives like the Bowling team, Track team, and even Co- Captain of the cheerleading team but behind the intense smile I didn’t feel pretty, I wasn’t a model sizes teen but I was fit, I had just enough friends to hide behind my feeling of feeling different from the others. I became depress and pushed away from others. I am a victim of media imaging, the fat girl with low self esteem, and still kind of withdrawn to a point where I nervous and uncomfortable just asking simple question. Today I still suffer from the stereotype images of the media ” you can Be, because you are Not. ” yup still unsatisfied with me.

  42. Nicole S. says:

    Beauty is such an important aspect in today’s society. So many businesses and corporations profit from this one dimensional idea of beauty. People put themselves in dangerous positions everyday to achieve the impossible, and that it is to be “beautiful”. But what really is beauty and why is it so important to be classified as beautiful? Why can’t people just be happy with the fact that we are all different and look different? For starters, our culture is obsessed with aesthetics. We live in a society in which weight is more than just a number. We are all constantly judged by our family, friends, strangers but most importantly by ourselves. We look in the mirror, and create lists of all the ways we are unsatisfied with our bodies. When instead, we should be thankful for all the things that we do have. I feel like once we release ourselves from this quest for beauty, we will be able to live a life that is both satisfying and unique. So make your own definition of what beauty is, and live by that.

  43. Melina Yaraghchi says:

    Reading this reminded me of a thought that passed through my head a few days ago. Right now I`m 19 years old. I do not remember anytime of my life, especially my teenage years, that I said and thought I was thin and had a nice body. I even asked my mom to tell me since when I became overweight. I simply do not remember the last time I liked my body and did not feel overweight. I feel like I never actually had this type of feelings toward my body and even if I did, its so long ago that I cannot even remember.
    Definition and images of beauty differ culture to culture and at different times. In 1800s, we did not see a huge emphasis on being small like we do today. This trend is making me worried for future generation. I don’t know how is it going to be for them if we do not stop this images and ads that are thrown at us every single day.
    I am sad and even angry that these images of beauty are not letting us enjoy our body and youth. My body when I`m 40 , will not have the same youth and attraction that it has today. We should be enjoy it today and yet many women are not happy with their weight and body. Media has to stop presenting society with unrealistic images for profit of corporations.

  44. Marjani S. says:

    This article speaks a whole lot of truth. The whole idea about “self love” and loving our body needs to come before anything else. All women are beautiful, and I know it’s hard to see it in yourself sometimes. We all have moments where we look in the mirror and are not satisfied with what we see. But, you only have one body to live in, so you might as well love it! And hey, if you honestly don’t like something, change it. But do it for you, not to fit into the “hot” stereotype woman that man has created for us. All women should be comfortable, happy, and beautiful in their bodies. Do not let anyone take this joy away from you.
    This article is something that needs to be shared with all women, just as a reminder that we are all beautiful and to help break down the stereotype of the perfect mythical woman.

  45. Samantha H says:

    I loved reading this blog. I just relate to it so much, as do other women. I grew up feeling so unhappy with my body. I did not want to be a girl. I hated that guys would stare at my boobs, or that other girls would criticize my hair. Because of this I grew up dressing like a tomboy, and not wanting to dress like a “girl” I hated my body because I thought that my image was not beautiful enough. However, now that I am older I feel like I have become happier with my body. Though I am not what the media calls “beautiful” by being super skinny, I am a what I call beautiful for being me. High self-esteem is what makes women beautiful, not a pair of size 0 jeans.

  46. Brandon A says:

    The first thing that I did once i read this article was send it to my two sisters. I have one older sister who is 21, and a younger sister who is only 14. One of their most striking, yet disturbing similarities is their obsession with their bodies. Recently, my eldest sister started this crazy diet where she’s been reduced to practicly eating lettice as a meal every day. The crazy thing is that my sister is actually beautiful. Im a guy, and even though this might sound crazy for me to say my friends always give me a hard time about my “hot sister.” So why does she obsess over her body so much to the point where she is making her life miserable? I can only think of one answer. As Ms. Klien put it, “beauty isn’t the problem. It’s our culture’s obsession with creating unrealistic and falsified images of beauty.” Hopefully, upon reading this article my sisters can gain a little perspective.

  47. Rocio Zuniga says:

    I find myself very lucky that i am happy with my body and always have been. I think it may have been that i have always been incredibly lazy. If i notice a weight gain i say ” oh well.” weight and body image has never been important to me, might be a bad thing seeing that i have trouble climbing the stairs, but point is even though i dont care , my family does. My mother is overweight and suffers from very low self esteem. She also has a myriad of health problems due to her weight. Because of this i know why she encourages me to eat healthy and ex cercise. When it comes to her she wants me to not be like her.
    Problem is she also becomes incredibly critical when she notices an extra bulge that hasnt been there before. She has a habit of calling me fat and always asking doctors if im at a normal weight. She has even started to moniter my food portions. Last time i checked i was 124( i think). So i know how weight affects people, i always see it in the way my mother struggles to go out because she says nothing looks good on her. I always see her look at the tall ,skinny ,white models she wish she was like.i wish she could be happy with the way she is instead of lie in a depressed stupor hoping she’ll feel better when she is skinny again.

  48. I couldnt agree more with the direction this article is heading towards. As a female growing up with the LA culture its difficult not to be aware of body issues. As a little girl you begin idealizing celebraties who look “perfect”. They almost look barbie perect but its not healthy for young girls to grow up with this mentality. We need to brake the chain of body images and not only learn to love our bodies but also accept and incourage different body types/sizes.
    The media puts importance on strong woman, like in the article Mrs. Clinton, but the media does not comment on her strenghts and accomplishments, they focus on her fashion and body image. How are young woman supposed to have the courage to voice their opinions when even well respected woman like Mrs. Clinton are being critizied.
    Feeling beautiful truely starts with a person but in todays culture its not so easy. When you look at yourself in the mirror today say something positive that you like about yourself. Then pass on a positive comment to encourage strong woman and the acceptace the different bodies are beautiful too.

  49. Alexandra Atienzo says:

    I love this article because of the harsh slap of reality it brings to the mainstream media’s idea of what beauty is and just who is spoon feeding women these ideas. Ever since I can remember I’ve had issues with my weight, there was never a time where I didn’t stare at my belly in the mirror for hours on end and it’s progressed to whenever i pass a reflection I check to make sure I’m sucking my stomach in just right. It’s no coincidence though, that I’ve been parked in front of a television since I could crawl and my parents figured out that T.V. makes for a great free sitter.
    And it’s only just recently that I figured out I’ve been spending so much time and energy in dieting and make up when I could be out doing much more productive things with my life, which is exactly what the mainstream media is trying to hold women back from. We’ve been trained and conditioned to worry more about our bust and waistline rather then if we’ll be receiving that Masters at the end of our academic careers, because those measurements are indicative of how we are valued in society, which is what I love this article is about. Our society values itself on how progressive and forward thinking we are, but just looking at how women devalue their bodies today, it’s clear we’re far from that.

  50. I agree that women try to define themselves to other women who are maybe one in a million or so. I think that there is no problem looking good or sexy, but I do realize that people want to be that #1 person when there is so few of them. I think also that the other attributes that women have are negated by the media by just talking about how they dress, what makeup they have on, etc. Maybe the male version would be like Tom Brady last year in football where people could only talk about his hair it seemed. I think people will always put beauty ahead of many things in life. As long as we have Hollywood and that “dream” everyone has of being “that person” we will always have this kind of thing going on. You would like to think someone likes you for who you are inside, but that is only part of it. Beauty is the object of eminent possession, it is universal and omnipotent. It is sad though that any kind of short comings people have in their life can be masked away by “beauty”. This is the society that has been created before us, and whatever our socitial view of beauty is, you can follow the mass medias view of what beauty is.

  51. Marina Vergara says:

    Before taking Melanie’s Women’s Studies 30 course I didn’t have a clue that there was such a movement in progress, a movement that criticized the images the media shows us of women and that impact on women of all ages. I am so disappointed that i missed this event, it would have provided me with more insight into the movement and power to assist in spreading consciousness about how the media portrays beauty. I have always been thin and tall and despite my mexican family valuing a more curvy figure of women I have always been the “beautiful” one. But when I see myself I don’t think I look like the women in the media with perfect breasts and round butts, i’ve strived to be beautiful instead of intellectual and ambitious for so many years of my life it saddens me to think that this time was wasted. Our society really has dumped a massive weight on the shoulders of all young women of having to worry about body image
    on top of the issues we all face as our lives progress.

  52. Uriel Gadolian says:

    Since a very young age little girls are encouraged to always look good, stay petite and act feminine. Growing up, girls are being driven into watching so many TV shows that have extreme influence on them in regards of beauty, and how they are being valued for their looks solely. As young girls grow up, the media plays a main role in their lives. They are being told that unless they look like a model, no one is going to pay attention to them. The result of that isn’t so surprising. Since a very young age girls are driven to use make-up and dress in a way which shouldn’t be introduced to them until an older age. Girls’ growth is being compromised and they find the unnecessary and unhealthy desire to grow older and faster. Furthermore, since girls are being brain-washed so badly that thin, skinny, petite, tiny is the way to go, they starve themselves and develop eating disorders that would affect them for the rest of their lives.

    Our culture is messed up in a way that it lets the media dictate what is good or bad. Parents fall for what magazines, TV shows, and other media sources say is right for all. Parents turn into believing that the ideal body cannot have a bigger waist size, and it would be extremely wrong if it is. Instead of taking an action and telling their children that overweight isn’t a curse, disease, or something that makes them being valued less, their parents push them into trying harder to look better and loose that weight in any way their children can. They might believe it is for their own children’s sake, as I believe that the majority of the parents truly care for their children. However, when a parent encourages his child to have a skinnier body, he encourages him/her that overweight isn’t good, which makes their children commit extreme actions in the pursuit of trying to look better.

    I fully agree with this article and I believe this article is a great way to introduce to parents, children and young adults how beauty isn’t everything in life, and that it should not dictate one’s life and the way he/she chooses to live.

  53. Myra Flores says:

    I’ve spent most of my life making modifications to myself ever since i was in elementary school. It started off with making tiny adjustments to my school uniform like rolling up the sleeves of my shirt because i saw my older sister do it. I can recall that i would even roll up my uniform skirt to make it a half inch shorter. From that it went to wearing no uniform at all, i’d wear regular clothes like jeans and a black shirt and now that i think about it , i simply wanted to look different from everyone else. I started wearing eyeliner in middle school, i then progressed to experimenting with eyeshadow and mascara, then foundation. Eventually i found myself feeling the need to put on a full face of makeup just so i could feel a little confidence throughout the day. As if confidence could be gained through the consumption of beauty products. I remember trying to lose weight since i was 13 and it’s been a never ending battle with my body ever since. I’ve been on diet after diet ,i’ve even tried pills before ,only to find dissappointment at the bottom of the bottle. I’ve developed disordered eating habits because of this. Throughout my life i’ve been exposed to so many idealistic images of beauty that i find myself trapped between trying to stay true to myself and wanting to be like everyone else. Through time and experience i’ve learned to deconstruct the ads i see on tv or the images in magazines and billboards. I realized that these images do not reflect real women, and that perfection does not exist. My first women’s studies class opened my eyes to the enormous conflicts we find of the depicitons of women in the media. I learned about women and health, about eating disorders and abuse, about the one dimensional views of beauty. I no longer criticize myself as much as i used to and while beauty is still significant to me, it’s not the most important aspect of my life. I try to maintain a positive view of myself and no longer pre-occupy myself worrying about or comparing myself to the women in magazines. I want to find my natural beauty without the help of cometics or clothing, i want to rip away and tear down the narrow spaces we box ourselves up in. Before, i used to fantasize about being thin, (about being normal) , now i just want to be a healthy version of me, both physically and mentally. – M.F.

  54. One, I wish I could have been present during this discussion. Two, I completely agree with all this article says. I’ve struggled with body image my entire life, and even still find myself becoming depressed or saddened because I’m not thin enough or my skin isn’t clear enough. Mainstream media concocted a monster and they call it beauty. It is impossible to open a newspaper or magazine without feeling like shit after reading through it. Whether it’s an ad screaming at my “lackluster” hair or an article on “How to Get Washboard Abs in Four Days,” there’s always something. The woman we are all so consistently urged to be is nothing more than a mythical creature. The definition of “beauty” definitely needs to change to something us Average Janes can relate to NOT something the Kim Kardashians of the world call beauty, through collagen injected lips.

  55. After reading this article, I feel even more encouraged to question and reject the “ideal” body images in the media. The images of beauty out there are obviously quite difficult to fit into, because they only deal with the outward, physical body and the accessories that accentuate its “beauty”. Rarely is a woman glorified for anything more than physical attributes or fashion choices. One of the many things that spoke to me in this article was that in the recent past, a woman’s beauty was not so one-dimensional and was classified by a more realistic spectrum of qualities. It is odd and tragic that society, today, is obsessed with the physical outward appearance and, thus, not appreciative of individual qualities that require intellect and individualism.

  56. stefanny delong castro says:

    I loved this article. We are constantly being beaten over the head by the media with images of what beauty is. We are constantly being told that if we do not fit into a certain mold we are not beautiful, we are not valuable. I really liked this article because it not only pointed out “beauty” as a problem but the media as well. like the author mentions there always have been standards of beauty and there always will be. The problem really lies with the media and the excessive value they put on these standards. Beauty standards are constantly evolving and changing with time. What we may find beautiful now may be completely different then what was considered beautiful a hundred years ago in a different society. It’s unfair to solely blame beauty, we need to change the media and hold them responsible as well.

  57. Tandis Shams Fard says:

    I couldn’t agree more..mostly with the last part about us having more important issues to worry about. People (including myself) need to realize that your appearance is not something that shows who you are.. If people dressed in a way that truly showed their self, not a single person would even have the same shirt, because everyone is different. Media puts as all in these boxes that makes us feel that we need to look a certain way and therefore feel anxiety if we don’t. We already know by now that we do not want to fit in to these boxes labeled “boy” and “girl”, then why is it so difficult for us to realize that we do not want to be in these other boxed labeled “attractive” and “ugly”? Is it only because we believe that we have the power to change what box we fit into? Well apparently we don’t.

  58. Ryan Mehdian says:

    I fully agree with every message being depicted. Beauty has become the utmost important aspect in society. The way women dress and appear seemingly speaks wonders about how they will be judged. It is sad to imagine the thousands of women in the world whom fail to meet society standard’s of “beauty”, which leads them to change all aspects of their life. Most women view beauty and appearence as the primary task on their agendas. Women should dress with comfort, allowing them to expres their personalities through fashion. It is absurd for women to try to reach these standards of society that are being built off the insecurities of women. Media plays a huge role in women’s life, and seemingly tells them what is appropiate to wear. Unfortunately, the media uses this power to enlighten women of all their insecurites, leading women to spend money on fashion items that claim to bring them to par with society standards. Women do not need to be a size zero in order to be beautiful. Beauty has become more of a duty for women, rather then an option. It is sad to think of the women whom are judged due to the fact that they do not obsess with their appeareance.

  59. Jennifer S says:

    Great article! I think this speaks volumes of truth about our culture’s obsession about The Beauty Myth. Without realizing it, our culture deems it totally normal and even beneficial for girls at young ages to begin dieting and other beauty “enhancing” regiments like wearing make up or adult clothing styles. When women in society don’t have a right to feel good or empowered about their own looks, and instead base it upon some arbitrary Eurocentric mythical norm of beauty, how can women of all ages, races, cultures, and backgrounds feel empowered to make change in the world for the better? Another great point you touched upon is that when our media says that its only appropriate for women to concern themselves only with doing our hair or dieting, they take away women’s responsibilities and rights to think and act upon issues that really matter, like getting a good education, consciousness-awareness, or political involvement. Beauty in our culture’s standards is a myth. Women are such a majority of the world’s population, and if the world wants to see change, it means that women need to get more involved instead od “dumbed-down” and objectified; our culture must begin expanding its view on true beauty to encompass all women, no matter how they look!

  60. This article has made me realize that I have been greatly effected by beauty standards and what is considered beautiful. I am a 5’2 white woman who weighs 120 pounds and I go to the gym at least four to five times a week. I find that there a few different reasons why I like going to the gym; one being that I have always been an active person and enjoy eliminating any stress from the day, but also because I want to be considered beautiful. And to be beautiful you must be a specific size. Now I greatly enjoy being my size and always strive to have a firmer butt, abs, and legs because obviously it makes me feel better about myself. However, I find that without the gym I would not be as healthy as I am and feel. I do not want to end up with an illness that could have been preventable if I had only exercised. Thus, I believe that our thinking needs to change. Women need to be going to the gym because they want to be healthy and live long lives without the issue of any type of illness, instead of we want to just look hot. Maybe that could be the motivation, but in the end it is for our own health benefits.

  61. Tiffany M says:

    Beauty in today’s society is defined in a very superficial way. It’s become an unachievable image causing teens to constantly be unsatisfied with themselves and the way they look. We need to redefine beauty and what constitutes beauty. Thin is not the only definition of beauty. Teens and young adults need to be taught to love their bodies for what they are, not try to change them every chance they get.

  62. Sherry Shayan says:

    I completely agree with this article. A woman’s waist size during the 1800s, was seen as more “attractive” when larger, rather than today where waist size for women is only “accepted” as thin. It was sexier to be a larger women with pale skin, rather than today’s social standards of a female only being sexy when they are skinny and tanned. Thus, society’s view of beauty is constantly changing and is controlled by the media rather than by people’s opinions. Sadly, girls today are so self conscious about their size and weight that they go to such extremes, such as anorexia, in order to be accepted or to be seen as “sexy”.

    Most women do not even fit into society’s standards of the beauty myth. It is unrealistic for any women to look like a barbie doll or naturally have the same physical proportions as these plastic dolls. As you said, “It’s the lack of choice and control” that women have, is right. Women should not be forced to fit into society’s unrealistic ideals of beauty. Women should be accepted for who they are, and not be judged for what they “should be”.

    Women DO need to work together through consciousness raising in order to fight the media’s standards of beauty. All women are in the same boat, and they need to all send a message that women should not be oppressed into a limited vision of beauty. Womens’ expectations of beauty are so limited that it mentally, physically, and emotionally harms women and can cause many physical/psychological problems. It is our job, and right, as women to fight the stereotypical and limited visions of vision of beauty perpetuated in our society!

  63. I agree totally with much of what is said in this post and I have a magazine of my own that promotes body diversity and which is called ‘Beautiful’. We have a sexy image of size 18 supermodel Fluvia Lacerda on our recent cover and all of these things will look, on the surface, like we are doing what Marie Claire has done with their ‘Love Your Body’ issue – but having just changed the size of the model. This appears to be using positive body image as a ‘bumper sticker slogan’ – on the surface. Without the glossy and luxurious appearance of Beautiful and the fashion and beauty aspects of the magazine, we’d never have made it on to the shelf next to Vogue, Marie Claire and Vanity Fair and we wouldn’t now be in the prominent position we are in. The enormous difference between ourselves and these other magazines is that Beautiful is devoted to positive body image in a serious way and I, as editor, have researched into the psychology of self esteem and self image for more than two decades. Inside Beautiful there are features that you won’t find in other magazines and indeed we publish subjects that other magazines refuse to print because they are seen as contraversial. The magazine is essentially a feminist one – the first truly feminist magazine to grace the shelves of a newsagent alongside mainstream women’s media.

    The message is – women like fashion and dressing up but it is not a definition of your worth. Appearance is fun and should be classed as entertainment. Our features about self worth are very much about moving away from appearance and towards the real sources of confidence: self responsibility, learning, fighting for what is right, living up to your values, integrity and looking out at the world and experiencing it directly rather than worrying about what the world thinks of you.

    Our title, Beautiful, is an encapsulation of a whole and not just about image. There is so much more of our readers that is beautiful than how they look. It’s also a description of our magazine and its mission. If you look at Beautiful on the surface without going deeper, you’re just judging on appearance and inflicting a stereotype onto us that just isn’t true.

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  1. [...] that very message is wrong. I am a good enough human being and I am more than an object (See this excellent piece about looking beyond beauty by Melanie Klein for more). As my high-school music teacher told me [...]