Like many teen girls in the United States, there was a time in my life when my weight and appearance meant way more than they ever should have. Not only that, but they mattered for all the wrong reasons.
They mattered because I wanted to fit in and be popular, to be what society was and still is calling beautiful, rather than for my own sake or because I wanted to be healthy.
I absolutely think the pictures and images presented to us in magazines on a daily basis are damaging to the younger generation and to my generation.
By the time we graduate high school, we are already living the hardest part of our lives. We are seeking our identities and self-confidence and trying to plan our futures.
Being bombarded with images of women that are the kind of skinny only a small number of the population can ever realistically dream of being does nothing helpful to those who aren’t built the same way.
I know that I can eat as healthy as possible and spend the optimum amount of time working out and hitting the gym, and I’ll still never look like a Victoria’s Secret model.
That was something I had a lot of difficulty coming to terms with.
I wanted little more than to be that gorgeous six foot model with the dark wavy locks and the flat stomach. But reality finally set in that I would never get to be that tall and that I would never get to be that skinny.
I believe that all of this holds true for guys as well. The muscle covered, lean looking male model body can’t be nearly as easy to achieve as magazines and pop culture makes it out to be.
There’s only so much time one can spend at the gym, and even that can still not be enough sometimes.
There is also not a single doubt in my mind that the pictures we see in magazines add to the issue of eating disorders and substance abuse, not only in the form of steroids but and diet pills. Everyone wants the “miracle pill” that will just shed those last 10 pounds.
Sure, we have plus-sized models appearing more frequent in the modeling industry, but it presents two ends of the spectrum.
What about the everyday, average sized person? They have no representation in the modeling industry.
I know there’s the argument for changing to “realistic sized” models, and this would be great for the younger generation.
The transition to models that are much more realistic is something that I look forward to, but I don’t see it happening overnight.
I feel as though a slower transition is needed because if we were to just up and change out all the skinny and well-built models for average sized people tomorrow, the modeling industry could argue that there is no one single “average” body type. But maybe that is exactly the point.
The ideal, healthy body is different for everyone. With such a myriad of heights, body shapes and bone structures, the possibilities of beauty are endless.
To have models that are comfortable in their own skin be on the covers and in the advertisements of magazines would be a huge accomplishment for today’s society.
This step in the right direction to help encourage people feel good about themselves, and not because they commit themselves to long hours at the gym, take a daily regimen of pills or eat only the healthiest meals possible, but because they are happy with who they are and how they look.
If magazines continue to present a body image that cannot be realistically obtained by a large portion of the population, I don’t see the point in having models in the first place.
Society’s current “perfect” body image is so unobtainable for most people that we don’t even use the word model as a verb or adjective anymore.
It no longer describes an activity that you do or the job you have, it is who you are as a person.
The idea that we can define someone by the use of a single word is a tragedy. No one deserves to be summed up in a simple statement.
As humans, we are all so much more complex than that.