Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love your body

"The point of our site is body acceptance, and stopping the cycle of body hate teens and women feel, largely because of media and ad campaigns."

That's from a comment Brittany from Curvy Girl Guide made in response to Amanda Talar's post about an article that appeared on CGG on December 12.

In a nutshell, the article takes issue with a Victoria's Secret campaign titled "I love my body" and the recent fashion show, which the company shows annually.

Amanda makes some very valid points - including that the article could be seen as a curvy girl tearing down the skinny girls. I didn't read it that way, but it doesn't mean that someone else might not. While I was in complete support of the article at first, the idea that it comes across as judgmental does make me stop and think.

If the focus is purely on how media influences body image, then I get it. The article doesn't look at the women individually, but the campaign as a whole, and to me that's understandable. That's how I took it; as a commentary on the campaign. The VS message is about what's sexy, and since all the women in the ads fit a certain mold, the message is that is sexy - and nothing else.

I take issue with that message, and I applaud a site like CGG for doing what they can to show an alternative to women and young girls. Why? Because I grew up a "curvy" girl. I've struggled with my weight my whole life, and was made fun of horribly as a child. So much so that at 13, I considered ending my life because a classmate called me "fat and worthless."

There were no Curvy Girl Guides then; hell, there weren't even plus-size stores. I had two choices - be thin, or feel bad about myself. So to me, the mission to improve body images, particularly in young girls, and give them a place to go where they can feel good about themselves, is a noble one.

However - I don't agree that it's ever okay for women to tear each other down. I'm so used to the idea that people are made fun of for being overweight, I suppose it doesn't occur to me that people are also made fun of for being underweight. But just because I haven't experienced it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It also doesn't make it any less hurtful than things people have said to me.

I support the message that we should love ourselves, and our bodies, no matter what; I don't support the idea that self-esteem comes from tearing someone else down. Ever.

Personally, I also don't think the media is the problem. Well - not the source of the problem, anyway. The message that thin is beautiful is popular, and the media uses that to sell. Why? Because that's what we buy. Is that the media's fault? No - they take their cues from us.

So whose fault is it if Victoria's Secret's ads make me feel bad about myself? Since I'm a grown-up - I guess it's mine. What about a young girl? That's different. She should be learning positive body image, and how to build her own self-esteem, so that when she's a grown-up, VS doesn't make her feel bad.

I guess the idea behind the CGG mission is that the media has a responsibility to encourage that positive body-image, and promote  self-esteem. I can see that point - I just don't necessarily agree.

Does the media influence hurtful opinions and words, like the ones from my classmate? Maybe. But the media doesn't determine what people find appealing. Maybe the media sends the message that it's okay to judge others for not meeting certain criteria. Maybe it influences how women's bodies are viewed. But people are entitled to their opinion, and the media its message.

Yes, it would be great if the media supported all things positive - but that's not reality. In the end, what matters is each person taking control of her own self-esteem, and finding a positive way to share her own message. I think the focus should be on teaching women and teens how to love themselves, learn to do what's right for their own bodies, and not worry about what other people, or the media, seem to think.

The focus should be on learning to manage the message, not control it. Because in the end, all we really control is our own reaction, anyway.


  1. Applause, applause! Well said - I agree 100%.

  2. I agree too.If we all fit in a certain mold anyway that wouldn't be interesting among other things right?