What do you see when looking in the mirror? In today’s world we can get bombarded with ideals of beauty that don’t necessarily fit the individual. Still, the ideals are pervasive and made to apply to every person. So how do we break free? Sure, the simplest answer would likely lie with adjusting the sources of these proprietors of “beauty”, but is it really fair to blame the media for what we essentially do to ourselves?
Well, that begs the question, is all this self-hate and body-hate really self-propagated hate?
It appears that it is. The logic behind this reasoning is as follows: No one is infected with a distaste for themselves just upon exposure to women or men who are more attractive, thinner, stronger, wealthier, smarter, etc. Feelings of insecurity that are buried within any individual most likely preceded exposure to these individuals placed on media pedestals, and will likely secede said exposure if no positive counter measures are enacted. So what is one to do? Shall the beautiful and handsome be removed from our sights? Well, that’s wishful, and could do a good thing for some of our egos, but that doesn’t seem to be what the public really wants. After all, the most attractive players in the media garner the most attention from the general public which tunes in to them, listen to them, gossips about them, purchase posters of them, ogle billboards of them, dreams of them, lusts after them, and, well, virtually worships them. Okay, so getting rid of their media presence is unlikely and considering the pervasive “star” worship would be largely unpopular.
A more reasonable and hopefully more successful plan would be a firm demanded for more consistent representation of all types of individuals: thin, average, heavy, curvy, and athletic. Extended that consistent representation to the large variety of ethnicities and the media would be challenged to fill the public’s mind will all sorts of ideas of what is beautiful.
Before changes in media can result in positive changes in our self-image, we must realize that the ways we see ourselves and believe others see us begins in our mind. It is those things we say when we speak to ourselves. It is how we interpret and explain to ourselves, within ourselves, the perceived messages from the media. Fortunately, activists and are not standing idly by. At the same time, however, they’re not simply pointing fingers at the media. Instead, it seems that they are standing up and are requesting, more or less, that individuals take responsibility for their own self-image. Certainly, positive-body-image-activists like Tyra Banks, recognize the huge impact the media has on defining beauty, sexiness, and overall appeal to the general public. So, while asking media outlets to be more inclusive of all types of individuals, she and other activists are asking the public to refuse to be victimized. Instead, self-empowerment is the message of the day. A wise and powerful message, indeed.
Wait, so, men and women can’t blame the images printed in magazines or flashed at them during prime time television for their obsession with weight? Sure, any of us could give up our right to a happy, loving relationship with our bodies in exchange for accusations directed at media outlets, but where’s the personal benefit? Activists like Tyra Banks and Jessica Weiner emphasize loving one’s body and really appreciating it in all its functions.
Is all this feel-good nonsense? To those individuals buried in the muck of long-lived self denial, the idea of assuming responsibility for what they long held to be a wrong made against them, might not sit well. They may reject the notion that tackling the source of the discomfort we feel within ourselves will liberate us and give us more control over our self-perception and our perception of those glorified in the media. After all, those men and women who are ripped, skinny, curvy, shiny, fantastic, and “perfect” are mere shells of what we, the public, wishes them to be. Projecting our dreams and aspirations onto them, we make them into gods and reject the beauty within ourselves. We reject the beauty in our very dreams. Our dreams are worthy, and the definition of beauty is being rewritten. Beauty is in every body, every dream, every heart. Once an individual learns loves and appreciates their body, the real nurturing of the body and soul will commence and all their subsequent actions directed toward the body and self will never injure us beyond repair. Be affectionate and beneficial to your whole self. Now, that, my friend is a beautiful message.