Have you ever looked through a magazine and wished you looked like the people you saw, noticed billboards of perfect bodies as you're driving, or compared yourself to the models in the posters you see as you walk through the mall?
Have you ever noticed how perfect these models appear to be and wondered to yourself "how could I look like them"? Have you thought "I'd be happy if I only looked like that"?
Every day, millions of women (and men) are in a constant battle with their body. Every day, millions of women are losing their identity, denying their worth, and selling themselves short every time they choose to engage in actions or activities that they believe they must do in order to achieve a body that's deemed beautiful by the world.
Figure competitions, excessively working out, dieting, eating disorders, plastic surgery, constant comparison, fear, self-loathing. This is what women are entrenched in, and this is what we believe we have to do in order to be seen as beautiful. Society has placed it's vote, and it's vote is on perfection. So we strive and do whatever we deem "necessary" to fit into the mould that's been created for us to fit in. Instead of creating our own moulds, we try to stuff ourselves into a cookie cutter.
When will women finally stop engaging in such damaging behaviour? When will they be enough? How many years of self-hatred must we go though until we're finally "worthy"?
This topic is very dear to my heart, and one that I fight for daily. I fight not only for myself, but for the women I come in contact with, either directly or indirectly, every day. This battle between body image and society is the reason I got into eating psychology, and is the reason I'm so passionate about what I do.
Having struggled with bulimia for 7 years, and having struggled with body image issues for much longer, has taught me one thing; If I stay quiet, nothing happens. If I say nothing, I continue to fall into the same traps time after time, and continue to be deceived by the lies I'm being fed, and the lies I feed myself. If I continue to stay silent, and live life the same as I always have, I will stay stuck forever.
Growing up as a young girl, my grandmother used to pinch my sides and tell me I had love handles, or constantly reminded me to "suck in my tummy". From the time I was 12 years old until now at 27, I'm still being told to suck in my tummy. I love my grandmother and she's a little old lady now, but those words spoken to me over and over again, especially while I was growing up, have stuck with me in the back of my mind even to this day.
My grandmother is 85 years old and she constantly talks about her weight, other peoples weight, or how lovely someone looks when they're thin. At 85 years old, no ones going to change her mind, and I don't believe she wants to change. She's bought into the lie that society makes us believe; we are only beautiful if we look a certain way. She's bought into the lie "thin is the only way to be beautiful", for almost her entire life.
Can you imagine being 85 years old and still hating your body? Still being in this constant struggle with your self-worth, which you base on your weight? For 85 years you've battled yourself, have wasted and insurmountable amount of time, and have robbed the world of your gifts all because you couldn't let go of what you were told perfection was. You couldn't stop believing the lie.
The answer is, yes. Many women, and men, can imagine being 85 and still hating their body because it's all they've ever known. Millions of women hate their body, and make sure they tell themselves every day just how imperfect they really are. This is the reality for women across the globe, and if we continue to stay silent, to continue to do the same thing, nothing will change.
Every time you flip through a magazine, or walk into the cosmetic section of a department store, you are seeing models who've been photoshopped. You aren't looking at something real, you're looking at a false ideal that you'll never measure up to. The models or celebrities you're seeing don't even look like that. You're being marketed to, and you're being lied to.
More and more celebrities and models have been opening up about photoshop and have chosen to display pictures for the world to see. Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Zendaya, Jamie Lee Curtis, Keira Knightley, Ashley Benson, Kate Winslet, Lady Gaga, Lorde and Gisele Bundchen have all protested against the use of photoshop within fashion photography and have slammed magazines for posting pictures that were unrealistic. These celebrities know how damaging false images are for not only societies' body image, but for their own.
All of these women, as beautiful as they truly and naturally are, still aren't "good enough" for the industry though. Even as thin as some of these women are, they still aren't "thin enough". These women have refused to stay silent though, because silence does nothing. Silence lets issues like these go on, and silence is what hurts all of us.
I believe more than ever, that now is the time to take a stand against false imaging and demand that you get the real thing. We don't need to see fabricated images of what someone could look like, we need to see the reality of what people actually look like. If we are ultimately going to compare ourselves to celebrities or models, regardless of the use of photoshop or not, we need to see the real thing.
I think about all the young girls out there who look up to these women, who hold them in high esteem and compare their teenage bodies to their twenty, thirty something year old bodies, that have been highly doctored. It's not a crime to be be thin or "beautiful", but it is a crime to show false imagining. It's a crime against the models natural beauty, and it's a crime against humanity.
We need more celebrities, more models, more everyday people to start speaking up and taking a stand if we want to see change, and we need to be aware that the images we're bombarded with are not real. It's not just women that are affected either. Men are barraged with unattainable images just as much. If you aren't 6'3, have a six pack and completely chiseled features, you're "not sexy". This isn't solely up to parents to educate their young ones, it's up to society to take a stand.
I believe that photoshopped images should come with a label, just like cigarettes and alcohol ads do, warning that the pictures displayed have been altered. The notion that photoshop doesn't affect young people, male and female alike, is totally false. Why can't magazines who display photoshopped people say so? Why can't we know the truth about advertising?
"Keep em sick, and keep em coming back".
Just like the health industry doesn't thrive off healthy people, the fashion or cosmetic industry doesn't thrive off healthy, content individuals. The goal is to keep people believing that they can achieve what they're seeing. If they use this product, they can have flawless skin. If you wear this piece of clothing or buy from this retailer, you can look like this. This is what we, you, buy into every time you pick up a magazine or walk by an ad that displays false images.
It's time for photoshopped images to be labeled. It's time that we focus on building healthy body images instead of focusing on profit. It's time people see what's real, and be made to feel that reality is sexy, characteristics are sexy, and imperfection is sexy.
This is who we look up to. This is who our role models are, and this is who millions of people compare themselves to every day. Fake photos and false promises.
Do you think photoshopped images should be labeled? Let me know your thoughts!