Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Importance of Repitition: Sending Out Positive Body Issue Messages

(A departure from my normal themes. Cross-blogged at BlogHer)

At least once a day I forget everything I've ever learned about keeping a positive attitude about my body image. A negative trigger goes off and suddenly I berate myself for eating too much or not exercising enough. Everywhere I look I see bulletin board GAP models laughing at my waist size and magazine cover celebrities poo-pooing my forming wrinkles.

Now, nobody's perfect, and I don't expect to prance through fields filled with flowers shouting about how freaking great my body looks. But I do have remember how many images bombard women everyday that feature skinny, beautiful models that have been retouched and perfected. Statistics exist on just how many (an enormous number) but what's more important is how many messages are we seeing that say the opposite? Not nearly enough.

I listened/read Podcast: Interview with Kelly Park from 'How to Look Good Naked' and realized how strong the reaction is from people when they are finally given the message that their body looks good. Why is it so hard for these women, for us? Because we are fighting an uphill battle.

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty has started some of the conversation, and we need even more. We need to be telling each other how good we look, and we need to be seeing images like the ones presented on HTLGN or other shows that celebrate, not berate.

One solution I've come up with is to target one of the biggest proliferaters of this message: women's magazines. Showing our role models and celebrities (sometimes one in the same, sometimes not) with no imperfections does not inspire, it depresses. One of the worst examples happened on the cover of Redbook, a magazine that's supposed to appeal to the maturity and interests of women.

My humble efforts have been put in place through a campaign that asks a major women's magazine to publish an issue without using retouching or photoshop on their cover or in their magazine. Anyone that joins the campaign commits to buying two issues.

The only way to combat the negative body images we see everyday is by sending the positive ones out there ourselves. This is important for young girls especially, but we don't become immune at any age. I hope to at least pass this message on to my friends and (someday in the far future!) my daughters. Again, and again, and again!

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