Articles: Body Image:
The Media Has it All Wrong
Body Image: The Media Has it All
The media has it all wrong, which means, by extension, that
we as a society have it all wrong as well. This might seem obvious, but since I
have largely ignored the media for most of my life, it is in some way news for
me. I have never owned a TV and have avoided women's magazines like the plague.
So I was a bit naive about the specifics of media messaging.
When I began my business working as a body-image expert and
appearing in the media, however, I realized that I needed to pay attention to
what was going on. I had to learn what the media was saying about beauty so that
I could better understand societal influences on people's sense of self-worth.
Needless to say, I have been horrified. The more I read the
more convinced I become that society has created an illusion of beauty that
denies the truth of our humanity. It seems we constantly need to change
ourselves in order to fit this ever-allusive and unnatural standard.
My most recent experience is a case in point. I was waiting
in the doctor's office and saw the current edition of Star magazine. The cover
said "Stars without Make-up!" "Even celebs need help to look fabulous"
and included pictures of popular movie stars with and without makeup.
The article explains, "Stars without Makeup: The results
arena always pretty when starts dare to go bare! Here is proof that even A-listers
need help putting their best faces forward." It then went on to show photos of
top celebrities with and without make-up, including a commentary about the
"Ashley Tisdale "That unfortunate new nose
isn't the High School Musical star's only glaring sans-makeup problem! The
22-year-old's brown eyes practically disappear, her complexion is blotchy" and
her cheeks, jaw and neck all look puffier without the help of clever
"Miley Cyrus " How much makeup does a
15-year-old need? Certainly not a lot " but a little can be a major improvement!
The Hanna Montana phenom is so blandly unrecognizable when her eyes are bare,
she could probably do the unthinkable: walk through a fan-infested shopping mall
"Demi Moore " Finally photographic proof
that the usually flawless 45-year-old has not found the fountain of youth! While
there's no denying that the mom of three looks great on the red carpet, sans
makeup her years are strikingly evident in her sagging jowls and the deep lines
around her eyes."
"Jennifer Love Hewitt " Jennifer's status as
a Hollywood hottie seemed in jeopardy after controversial bikini shots surfaced
last year. So you'd think the actress, 29, would try a little harder when she
steps out of the house these days."
The article continues to review 24 actresses and singers who
dared to appear somewhere without makeup. In every case the article claims
unequivocally that they look better with makeup and should not venture out in
public without at least some blush, mascara, gloss, and under-eye concealer.
I suppose this was supposed to make us non-celebrity,
average, ho-hum women feel better about ourselves, that we are not the only ones
that have to put on make-up and get done up in order to feel good about
ourselves. Great we are not the only ones who have to starve, bleach and Botox
our way to beauty. We have to do it, and celebs do to. Fabulous.
What about the idea that movie starts, and everyone else, is
beautiful simply because they exist that they are beautiful just as they are,
a beautiful creative manifestation of the cosmos? What about the idea that we
are beautiful just the way we are, without having to change anything? What about
the idea that beauty comes from the inside, that love, compassion, wisdom,
tolerance, and strength are beautiful traits? What about the idea that beauty
can be enhanced by loving ourselves and those around us, instead of by
plastering makeup on our faces?
What about the idea that we are beautiful even with make-up,
not because of it?
What about being beautiful all the time, instead of beautiful
only when we are made-up?
As long as beauty is some external ideal that exists for the
young, the tone, and perfectly made-up, we will never feel beautiful. We will
constantly attempt to achieve this false vision of beauty, only to end up sad,
disappointed, and frustrated as it eludes our grasp. We will never feel quite
good enough because of our freckles, our uneven eyebrows, our graying hair, our
increasingly wrinkles, and our oh-so-irritating cellulite.
It is only when we learn to see the beauty in who we are,
right now, as we are, that we can begin to find peace. It is only as we learn to
find beauty in everyone and everything, simply because they exist, that we can
discover true beauty. It is only then that we will discover true beauty never
grows old and never dies; our beauty has been with us and will be with us