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The Never Ending Debate on Body Image

This post is not about the top ten suspenders I want, or the most expensive eye masks on the market. Occasionally, I do have the capability of addressing more serious topics. Today, I want to talk about body image and specifically the negative attention and bias that can be placed against thinner shapes. I hope to hear back from some readers in regards to their thoughts, experiences, or personal battles they may have faced.

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I’ve noticed a couple things on various blogs responding to companies’ use of thin models, and specifically J Crew’s addition of their 000 size. Most responses are similar in that people think the model is “too skinny”, or the new smallest size is “unrealistic”. There are arguments that the media is creating a negative body image for women and girls, and that it represents an ideal that is ultimately unhealthy and unattainable.

I agree that the media has skewed certain body images, there’s enough evidence of ridiculous photo-shopping, and the fact that most models have a very similar shape—tall, thin, youthful, without curves.

[Please note that I am aware of brands using different sized models and that in 2014 we have certainly come a long way from the 90’s in terms of body images within the fashion industry. However, for the most part, the vast majority of models still fit the above description.]

But all these criticisms of a brand’s decision of how to market a garment, are now turning into blatant criticisms of somebody’s actual body. The report from Today that documents different tweets responding to Gap’s model (pictured above) include the following:

“Seriously, @Gap? In what world do people look like this?” tweeted @AgnesLoo.

“Perhaps you could select models who represent regular gals & not a skeletor ghost.”

-from Today.com

They did mention that several people came to the model’s defense saying that  those comments were uncalled for, and just as disrespectful as telling someone overweight that they need to diet. Love those people, thanks!

I understand that I am basically re-blogging ideas that have already been put out there, but it outraged me to a point where I even surprised myself. It’s frustrating to live in a world where nearly everything in regards to your appearance can, and will be, criticized depending on who is looking at you. There is a difference between criticizing how a brand is using a model to sell something, and criticizing the shape of the model. Please think about that.

Speaking from personal battles, the effect that the media and the fashion industry has is astounding. Not only do I feel bombarded everyday by images that show me what I “should” look like, but I’ve also seen it affect male friends of mine, and how they regard women. The judgment is harsh, and it is never ending. So even if I don’t believe that media images should really affect me, I still cannot help the fact that they are influencing how others think of me, and the standards they hold myself, and others to.

For me, it created self-doubt, it created unhealthy habits-both physical and emotional. I was lucky enough to find a way to turn it around and love the body that I have. And now I’m hearing that this body type is also being criticized?! Are you kidding?

I could go on for a while about the unfairness of it, but there wouldn’t be much point. Why can’t we all wear whatever size fits us best? Whether that’s a 000, or a 2XL. Why can’t all bodies be seen as beautiful? As long as I’m happy and maintaining good health, please just leave me alone. You don’t know that the Gap model starves herself. Who knows, maybe she did and is now trying to get better, but is receiving backlash nonetheless.

Am I wrong in thinking that there is a bias against thinner bodies just as much as there can be a bias against larger bodies? And more importantly, what is this judgment doing for anyone—does telling someone she needs to “eat a cheeseburger”, or telling someone that they “are too big to wear that dress”, do those comments actually do anything?

I’m exhausted by the way that bodies are skewed in the media, and I’m exhausted by knowing that as much as I try, it still affects me. I know that I am far from the only person who feels this way.

So, what do you think? Comment away, community is everything!

1 Comment

  1. I think it would be really refreshing if companies started using models of all sizes 000, 00, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, etc in the same campaign. Everyone has their own size and even shape. And even within the same size people’s body can look completely different for example if someone is pear shaped, vs hour glass, vs apple. Personally, I want to see pictures of fashion on people to envision what the item would look like on me. Showing me models that are size 000 does not help nor does showing the new plus size models help. I give kudos that companies are now trying to show more plus size models but that’s still not representative to everyone. I wish they would start having models of all sizes and shapes. I think if companies started embracing this idea that people come in all shapes and sizes we would have a lot less of these negative body issues whether it be skinny people ashamed that they are skinny, plus size people ashamed that they are plus size, busty women ashamed that they are busty… Just as a little side note, and maybe a little bit of a tangent, I used to be really ashamed that my head is shaped flat in the back and that I have a really small head until I noticed the red headed vampire Jessica in True Blood had a very similarly shaped head as myself, then I didn’t feel so bad. I just think people need to be reminded that there isn’t just one ideal out there as far as it goes with how people look. People come in all shapes and sizes.

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