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National NOW Times >> Fall 2003 >> Article

Make Every Day Love Your Body Day

by Elizabeth Doggett, NOW Intern

This year's Love Your Body Day poster contest winner was designed by Stephanie Black of East Lansing, Mich. You can view the runners-up and past winners online at www.nowfoundation.org/posters, where you can also find information about entering next year's contest.
This year's Love Your Body Day poster contest winner was designed by Stephanie Black of East Lansing, Mich. You can view the runners-up and past winners online at www.nowfoundation.org/posters, where you can also find information about entering next year's contest.

The sixth annual Love Your Body Day, a project of the NOW Foundation, is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2003, but any day of the year is the right day for women to embrace their natural figures. Love Your Body Day is a day of actions protesting negative images of women in the media, raising awareness of women's health issues, and celebrating the beauty and diversity of all women's bodies.

NOW activists across the country will speak out about sexism in the media as well as in the tobacco, alcohol and beauty industries by hosting women's health fairs, launching "ad watches" to monitor sexist advertising, initiating letter writing campaigns and petition drives and throwing parties to celebrate women's curves. Past activities have included Love Your Body fashion shows and "Feed the Model" mock actions. The materials for this year's Love Your Body Day place an extra focus on the cosmetic surgery industry and images of women in the media that promote plastic surgery.

Fake Breasts Create Real Risks

In 2002 over $7 billion was spent on cosmetic surgery in the U.S., not including reconstructive plastic surgery, according to the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. Women make up 85 percent of cosmetic plastic surgery patients. The media bombards women with images telling them that looking like a supermodel is the only way to be valued, that conforming to such narrow ideals of beauty is the only way to be desirable and successful. Some women go to extremes like plastic surgery to meet the beauty "standard," even though these means are painful, expensive, sometimes dangerous and ultimately more profitable for the beauty industries than the women for themselves.

NOW recently released a report criticizing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s anticipated approval of silicone gel-filled breast implants, charging that inadequate research is putting these dangerous devices back on the market. See page 12 for more on this report and NOW's symposium.

"The FDA is simply not looking at enough information to reasonably assure women that silicone gel breast implants are safe in the body over many years," said NOW President Kim Gandy. "We know a few things for sure: breast implants have a very high product failure rate, they cause severe and painful local problems, and we're unsure of their long-term health effects."

This year's Love Your Body Day materials urge activists to explore and speak out against the media's encouragement of women to undertake such dangerous procedures and the government's participation in placing the business interests of the cosmetic surgery industry over the long-term health and safety of women.

Activists can speak out against this industry that harms women's bodies for profit along with their usual Love Your Body Day actions. Included in the packet are new fact sheets about the increasing use of cosmetic surgery by women and teenagers as well as new action ideas for calling attention to harmful media messages and celebrating women's healthy bodies.

Get Involved With Love Your Body Day

Actions for Love Your Body Day make a difference whatever their size and scope. At the local level, activists have thrown house parties to discuss and protest images of women in advertising, planned campus women's health fairs and video screenings, put on "Love Your Body" fashion shows, and hosted body-positive poetry readings.

This year's materials include new tips on how to plan an indulgence party to celebrate women's bodies and how to put on a "real women" fashion show.

At state and national levels activists can protest companies that portray negative images of women's bodies, start letter-writing or email campaigns to Congress members calling for legislation directed at ending violence against women and funding women's health and safety, and individuals or groups can enter the poster design contest for next year's Love Your Body Day.

Get started with the 2003 Love Your Body Day Action Kit. This kit provides new and updated women's health fact sheets, action ideas, tips for organizing, petitions, educational videos and a Love Your Body Day poster to help publicize events. Kits and information about the poster contest are available online at www.nowfoundation.org or by calling 202-628-8669, ext. 117.

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