Sunday, October 2, 2011

Stretch Marks & Tummies & Boobs, Oh My!

     Take a look at this photograph. Take a good, hard look at it. What do you see? Do you see a beautiful, statuesque lady or a chunky, plus sized woman? Do you see an ordinary person or an overweight one? As I was studying for my Mass Media Communications class lastnight, I came across this photo in the textbook. Her name is Lizzie Miller, and she is a... GASP! Ordinary woman! Unheard of, right?! This was one of the first photographs of a real, untouched, average sized woman to ever be published in a mainstream consumer magazine. Not surprisingly, the photo sparked a national debate soon afterwards. There were thousands of rants & raves. Some people adored the woman & others were repulsed by her. The magazine's editors were flooded with positive comments- so many comments that they even considered changing the "look" of models they'd normally use on their covers. Although the majority of the responses were good ones, some people were strangely angered by the smiling woman. One reader of the magazine even went so far as to say the photo "...shamelessly promoted obesity, which is already enough of a problem in America." If this picture is what promoting obesity looks like, well... I don't have anything to say about that one.
     Nevertheless, the photo remains a media milestone whether people like it or not. As for me, I was absolutely glowing with happiness as I read about the model in my textbook. The mainstream consumer magazines are finally seeing the beauty in the ordinary! I rejoiced as I read more & more about the photograph, but here's the sickening part. As ashamed as I am to say this, my first thought upon seeing this photo was... fat. This woman is obviously not fat, not even chunky. She is our neighbor, she is our teacher, she is our sister. She is an ordinary woman. Even though I'm fully aware of this, there seems to be a little voice in the back of my head that tells me she's fat. She has a belly roll, so she's fat. She has stretch marks, so she's fat. She's not a size zero, so she's fat. It's sickening that the media has pounded so many images of stick skinny girls and skeletor models into my mind that my subconscious still tells me that the woman in this picture is fat. 
     I'm a fairly intelligent young girl with a normal sized figure, so I'm not really sure how I let the media drill these ideas into my head. It's pretty unnerving. Our generation still has a glimmer of hope, however- with advertisements such as Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty," in which models of every shape, size, and race are pictured together in their underwear. This is how women should be portrayed- as the lovely, curvy, voluptuous ladies they truly are!
     As for the stick thin ghosts we see in magazines on a daily basis? Hate to break it to you, but nobody actually looks like they do in those perfectly perfect photos, not even the models. Yep, the media has set a standard so utterly impossible that even the girls in the pictures can't measure up. Although I still struggle with accepting my own body at times, I'm starting to see the truth behind all this skinny-minny model crap. I weigh 125 pounds (on a good day) and stand at 5 feet & 6 inches tall. Every time I visit the doctor, my BMI score hits the chart right in the middle. My height and weight are, quite literally, perfectly proportional! But this doesn't mean my whole body is perfect- I have stretch marks along my inner thighs. I have belly fat when I sit down. I have 46 freckles on one arm alone. My thighs touch each other, and my arms will most definitely jiggle if you slap them. I am not a photoshopped image. I am not perfect. I am a real human being. But you know what? I absolutely adore it. 

     Oh, and just for the record... Being a white girl with a booty is pretty freakin' awesome! 
Cheers to all the real-life women out there, and have a lovely evening/day/night!

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