Every day the beauty industry and media tell women and girls that being admired, envied, and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood. They provide them with a beauty template that is narrow, unrealistic, and most importantly ingrained into their brains leaving any woman who does not fit this template feeling inadequate. The Love Your Body campaign challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.
Where do these standards come from?
Television shows and movies are guilty of casting mainly white, young, conventionally “beautiful”, thin women. Both industries also infrequently cast women of racial or ethnic diversity, or of the wrong ethnicity or race for their character. Often times the lead female character in a movie or television show will be significantly younger than her male co-star, and she will be casted to play a character who does not have the same variety of interests as her male counterpart.
Reality television shows are more often guilty of promoting the rating of women by appearance but even still it is rare that you see someone who does not fit the media’s definition of beautiful in a lead role on a television show. Another major offense of the media is the sexualization of women and young girls. Because the media presents girls as sexual objects at younger and younger ages, society in turn expects young girls to be sexualized which often results in young girls acting older than they are.
The objectification of women can also been seen in advertisements in the media. Advertising companies are notorious for their use of retouching programs like Photoshop to “edit”, “fix”, or “perfect” images of women. There is an overwhelming amount of beauty ads in society. There are advertisements for makeup, cover up, hair products, wrinkle creams, cellulite products and correctors to help women battle nature and conform to the beauty expectations of the media. Millions of dollars are not only spent on the creation of these advertisements but by women in their attempts to fit society’s warped version of “beautiful”.
What’s wrong with all that?
The problem is that the media is everywhere. Advertisements are in magazines, newspapers, and commercials, and television shows are one of the most popular forms of entertainment which means that it is almost impossible to ignore the influence of the media on your ideas of beauty and body image.
What can we do?
Together we can combat the influence of the media by exposing it’s ideal and narrow frame work as unrealistic and often unhealthy. As women we can educate each other on what healthy really is, discuss and expose the media’s use of retouching and altering of photos, and remind each other that every body is beautiful. We can speak out through social media, in class or in letters to the editor against negative portrayal of women. We can be models of self-acceptance and love in front of young children and each other, support television shows and advertisements that show diversity and realistic versions of women, and take action using the many ideas on the Love Your Body Site.