Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the beholder’s standards are a tad high for most to accomplish these days. Just take a look at most magazine covers, where you see paper-thin waifs with pouty lips looking at you and telepathically asking, “Why can’t you be like me?”
Of course, we’re seeing in the media lately that even the models can’t be like what they portray in photos. They are two-dimensional because some crackerjack computer whizzes know how to manipulate the photos to make the skinny girls even skinnier. Now the models are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
Last week, news broke about Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old ballet dancer from Maine. She crusaded to get Seventeen magazine to stop printing Photoshopped portraits of girls, saying it pressures young girls to try to emulate what they see. In the process, they fall prey to eating disorders, which do more harm to the body than many foods.
She scored a victory when the editor of Seventeen vowed not to alter body shapes in the photos, only to fix stray hairs, bra straps, etc. By then, Bluhm had 84,000 signatures from an online petition requesting Seventeen to leave the poor gals alone.
Here’s some of what Bluhm had to say online at the Huffington Post:
“We all know how Photoshopping can make models look unbelievably ‘perfect’ and how it can cause girls to develop an unrealistic idea of beauty. By showing girls how different non-Photoshopped images look, we can teach girls to recognize the airbrushed, touched-up, ‘perfect-ified’ images when they come across them.
“Instead of looking at computer-edited pictures of girls, and wishing we looked like them, we should roll our eyes and say, ‘Well, you’re fake, and I’m not. I don’t need a computer to be beautiful. I’m already beautiful.’ We even made a video with kids at my school during lunch to show how we felt about this issue. My friend Izzy Labbe (another amazing SPARK activist) helped launch the video. She told me that she loves Seventeen, but ‘it’s really ironic to see pages telling you to love your body right next to advertisements that are sending subliminal messages about changing your body.’”
Of course, the momentum isn’t stopping with Seventeen. The Associated Press reported Wednesday about a protest going on in front of the New York City offices of Teen Vogue, with young girls catwalking on a makeshift red carpet and high-fiving each other. The petition for that magazine currently sits at about 28,000 signatures.
It’s a shift in attitude that’s a long time coming. Sure, most of us would love to be thinner, take off a few extra pounds in those inconvenient places, but we’re not all capable of willing our bodies to stop generating fat. We’re not shapeshifters; those only exist in the science fiction and fantasy genres.
Unfortunately, this issue comes about at a time when we hear the news about America’s battle of the bulge. A person is considered obese when he or she is more than 20 pounds over the normal weight when in proportion with one’s height. Right now, statistics show more than one-third of Americans are obese.
Part of it is linked to eating disorders, which as we mentioned before, can be caused by seeing magazine covers with “perfect” bodies and unrealistically trying to be like them. Of course, some fat issues, especially with children, come from poor nutritional choices and some relaxation of parents’ standards. I mean, seriously, does little Johnny need to have a candy bar every time the light turns green?
Hopefully, with this new rebellion against “skinny” magazines, we can take a step forward in combating health issues in ways that don’t destroy us entirely. I know I’m a long way from being the skinny twerp I was growing up, but I’m going to get rid of my extra fat in my own way, on my own terms, without the media sniping at me and saying I’m ugly because I don’t fit into size 30 jeans anymore. Maybe I won’t grace a magazine cover, but I’ve been recognized publicly in many other ways, just by being myself.