Women’s Studies Revelations

This week in my women’s studies class we were supposed to bring in a picture that we think is beautiful, a picture that is “conventionally beautiful” that we do not like, and write a little blurb about our reactions to them. Unfortunately, my TA just sent out an email that says that the reactions are “academic papers” and not “personal journal entries” so I am going to have to rewrite mine. But I figured I could at least post it here so that someone could appreciate it instead of me just deleting it. It kind of just reiterates a lot of things that I’ve already said in this blog. But whatever. I’m putting these pictures as hyperlinks in case anyone would be triggered by them.

Victoria’s Secret Angels

The image that I don’t like bothers me because I feel like it is trying to send the message that I should love my body like these women love theirs. But at the same time, I’m confused because their bodies perfectly fit the description of “conventional beauty.” My body doesn’t look like that. This ad leaves no room for variance among bodies. These women all look practically the same. They have the same hairstyles, the same makeup, the same body type, and all of them have relatively light skin. But not too pale, because that would be unacceptable. What if I don’t look like them? This advertisement leaves me confused. Am I still supposed to love my body? Am I only supposed to love my body if I look like them? Is the only way to show that I love my body to make it look like a Victoria’s Secret model? How can I do all this at the same time? How can I love my body the way it is and also look like these women if that isn’t my body’s natural, healthy shape. Are they telling me that if I love my body I will make it look good regardless of the consequences? Is that what it means to love your body? To decorate it, lose every excess ounce of fat, and show it off? Also, is my underwear always supposed to perfectly match? Am I supposed to walk around in my underwear with make-up on and my hair done? As if I’m going out in public without clothes on. Why should my body be used just to look good? Will people still love me even if I don’t look like a Victoria’s secret model? Do I deserve to be loved if I don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model?

Technically contains nudity. (As a bonus for look at this picture you will get a lovely link to a fun board on pinterest because I couldn’t find the original picture)

I like the second image because I feel like it tells me that women are loveable even if they don’t fit perfectly into society’s idea of “conventional beauty.” This picture is beautiful to me, because these two people are allowing themselves to connect, form relationships, and be intimate with one another, regardless of how they look. When I look at this picture, I automatically think “oh, they love each other” rather than “oh, I should look like her. I’m not good enough. I should work harder,” like I do with the Victoria’s Secret ad. This woman embodies the “loving your body” that I want to have. She obviously cares to at least some extent about her body. She has her nails done and wears jewelry and decorates her body. But she isn’t overly concerned and focusing only on that. She allows herself to show emotion and form relationships regardless of what she looks like. She lets her hair get a little bit messed up. She lets her body fat get above 5% because maybe that isn’t her body’s idea of what is healthy, regardless of what society thinks. Whereas, I feel like the advertisement tells you that you have to be both healthy and a size 2 at the same time. It paints this picture that these women are what health looks like, and that is the only healthy option. And that just isn’t the case. Yes, some people eat healthily and exercise moderately and look like Victoria’s Secret angels. But a whole lot of other people aren’t naturally that size and I wish this advertisement would allow me to actually love my body and let it be the size it wants.

 

Just as another comment. I”m not saying that the VS angels are ugly. Nor am I saying that anyone that looks like them is not beautiful. I’m just saying that I would like to be told that I can love myself no matter what.

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healthy equals what?

Yesterday I was sitting in my women’s studies class, minding my own business and being an attentive student when my professor showed us this image of a rather thin model.

She asked if people thought this woman looked healthy or if she looked too thin. Half of the class answered that she looked healthy. In case you guys don’t recognize her, this is Ana Carolina Reston, and she died of complications due to anorexia. I think I spent the rest of the day livid at the fact that this culture glorifies certain body types regardless of what it takes to get there. She most certainly is not the first person to be used as an “ideal body” and actually we find out later that she was really struggling.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that I “don’t look like I have an eating disorder.” My own sister has told me that I never looked anorexic because my bones weren’t sticking out or anything. And honestly, I don’t really blame her. The way that anorexia is presented in the media is that you have to be absolutely emaciated and dying to actually have a problem. I’ve had so many friends that have been told they looked “amazing” or “beautiful” at their lowest and most unhealthy weights. When they were struggling, starving, and miserable.

It would be one thing if the media glorified people that ate healthily, exercised moderately, and took care of their bodies, regardless of their size. But it doesn’t do that. Everyone seems to spend a lot more time focusing on the people that eat healthily and exercise moderately and are also on the VERY thin side. I definitely won’t say that the media blatantly encourages eating disorders, because we see people being attacked all the time for being “too thin,” but I am just really frustrated that practically everyone’s idea of “healthy” looks like a Victoria’s Secret model. I wish people would quit fighting for people to fit within a certain weight category or image category. No offense, but if you’re eating fairly healthily and exercising moderately, I don’t really give a shit what your body looks like. And neither should other people. Because it isn’t their business.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand that people can look like that and still be healthy, good for those people. That’s what healthy looks like for them. My roommate is one of them. I’m just upset that everyone is held up to this standard. Bodies are all different. They have different genetics and work in different ways. So people need to quit expecting them all to be relatively the same size and shape. My body is my business. Your body is your business. Don’t judge it. Don’t comment on it. You can’t prove that one is healthier than the other just by looking at them. And along the same lines, you can’t prove that eating/exercising exactly a certain way will make you look a certain way. You can’t say, “this is what my healthy is going to look like” and then do whatever it takes to get to that shape and call yourself healthy. Because that’s not how it works. I would just like to see some diversity. In advertisements, in media, in movies, in everything. And I know that we now have plus size models, but even they are all perfectly proportioned, curved, balanced, and quite frankly, often the same size. I never see pear shaped models. Or movies with actresses that have love handles. If the size that my body wants to be includes cellulite on my thighs then let me leave it like that, goddammit.