First things first. I wish this was my closet!! I have seen this picture a few times before but I am loving the pink shoes in the front and all of the spring/summer colors! Now that we got that out of the way….
I wanted to share something with you that’s been on my mind a lot lately, and that is how women are portrayed in our world today. I’ll be honest- confidence has never been my strongest point. I’ve been thinking this week about why that is. Why shouldn’t we be confident? What reason do we have not to feel great about ourselves? For me, a big part of this comes from how I see women as being portrayed in the media. After reading this blog article from Words by the Glass, it got me thinking…
I just got the Victoria’s Secret 2014 Swim magazine this week. In case you haven’t seen it, don’t worry- you’re not missing anything. I’ll just sum it up for you: 90 pound women posing in unnatural ways on the beach; long hair blowing out into the wind, their flat abs and hipbones sticking out. Too harsh? Maybe. But maybe not. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not criticizing any of these women personally, I’m talking about the media that somehow believes this is what women should look like. We are receiving messages on a daily basis that tell us we’re not good enough, or that tell us we need to look a certain way.
What we don’t realize when we first glance at a magazine cover is that these pictures have been edited and photo shopped. With the technology that is available in our world today, it is becoming easier and easier to alter images and pictures to make them look a certain way. The pictures we are seeing are not realistic. Check out this short commercial from the Dove Beauty Campaign to see how easily the picture on the left was changed to what we see on the right.
It’s well worth your time- in fact, you should go watch it right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Isn’t that crazy?? With the touch of a computer, a single click, the cheekbones on her now perfect porcelain skin were given more definition, her stomach was made flatter, her legs were made longer. I love how this video shows us how quickly images can be edited. The women that we see on TV, in movies, on magazine covers- they don’t really look like that. Yet we look at them, and somehow believe that we are expected to look like that; we hold ourselves to an unrealistic standard of beauty.
I was almost done with this blog post when I saw a Hardee’s commercial yesterday on TV- I was so shocked so knew I had to add this in my post and share it with you guys. Since I’ve been thinking about this stuff lately, I think I paid more attention to the commercial than I ordinarily would have in the past. The commercial featured a woman in a bikini on the beach, spraying sunscreen (on her already bronzed skin) as she ate the grilled sandwich Hardee’s was featuring. First off, if her diet really consisted of fast food, chances are she would not look the way she does. I don’t really eat meat or fast food ever, but even if I did, my desire to go to Hardee’s would greatly decrease after watching this commercial. Enough of my opinion- watch the commercial here for yourself! (Official Hardee’s 2013 TV Commercial) If the commercial isn’t bad enough… it gets worse! I was searching on YouTube for the link so I could share it with all of you. When I clicked on the video, a message came up warning me that some content may not be appropriate for younger viewers, and I had to click to continue if I was sure I wanted to watch it. If this is not appropriate for younger viewers, why it the commercial shown on TV, on channels that kids of all ages could be watching? At one point in the commercial, the woman actually takes off her bikini top… and this has what to do with their product again? If the population that they are targeting is more likely to buy their product or visit their store because they are attracted to the commercial, I think that’s sad. I’m all about finding what will motivate people- I try to do this in teaching, and find what will motivate my students so they are engaged while we are learning. So I completely understanding the motivation aspect. But this is what is motivating? I think it’s downgrading to women to use them in that context to market a sandwich. A sandwich!
And then there’s Pinterest. I love it and hate it, all at the same time.
There are so many great resources on Pinterest- workout routines, healthy snacks to choose from, recipes, etc. I use it all the time to find inspirational workout sayings to motivate me, and to select various workouts to complete! It’s a great resource… I just saw a sign that asked, “Does anyone know when we’ll receive our W-2’s from Pinterest?” haha love it!! But intertwined in all of that are also pictures like this:
I think the entire problem lies within that caption. “Don’t give up on perfection.” What is perfection, anyway? Who defines it? Just how much of a thigh gap do you need to be “perfect?” Are you with me, ladies? We shouldn’t give up on perfection, because we shouldn’t be striving for it in the first place… we aren’t perfect. That’s just a fact. If we spend our entire lives trying to achieve this perfection, we will find ourselves frustrated, confused, and probably pretty moody (but we won’t be able to have that chocolate because then we’d have to choose between that and a flat stomach…)
My favorite (and by that I don’t mean favorite at all) picture I’ve seen on Pinterest is the “10 minute Victoria’s Secret Model Workout”- are you kidding me?! As if I do this 10 minute workout, I will look like that? If a 10 minute workout provided those kind of results, then why are we not living in a world full of models? Or is the workout only 10 minutes because that’s all they can handle? I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I read online that their models have to go on a liquid only diet prior to fashions shows or photo shoots. I don’t know about you, but that’s just not a realistic option for my lifestyle. I would much rather feel accomplished after a tough workout at the gym and eat healthy, nutrition foods to give me energy and fuel my lifestyle.
Sure, it’s not all bad. I think there is more of a focus on being strong and on fitness now, which is great! We also hear positive statements tossed around too, like, “Strong is the new skinny.” That’s a great mindset, and one that I strive to have myself! But while we’re being honest, is that really the view that the media has adopted of women? In my opinion, no.
If I could just….
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been guilty of thinking some of these statements before. If I could just lose 5 pounds, I would be happy. If my stomach were flat, I would be happy. If I had a “thigh gap,” I would be happy. How does that work- all of a sudden, your life will dramatically change and you will be content because your stomach is flat? No, you won’t be content. Because you’ll be looking for the next thing you need to change to achieve your dream body, to achieve perfection. But guess what? That’s not going to happen. Yes, some women naturally have very slim figures, but for most women, we don’t and never will look like VS models. And that’s okay. That’s okay because we are real women. We have jobs, take care of children, run 10 miles, lift weights and actually try to build muscle, and eat too much chocolate sometimes. Let’s embrace that. We work hard, and should be proud of that and confident in who we are.
Now most of this blog post has been directed towards women. If there are any men out there reading this, then I won’t leave you out! Let me address the guys for a minute- you have the power to make a world of difference in a woman’s life. Maybe it’s just a friend, maybe it’s your girlfriend, maybe it’s your sister. No matter what women are in your life, your opinion is important and valued to them. You have an incredible amount of power as a male in this generation- why not use that influence to build up the ladies in your life?? Tell her she’s beautiful, tell her she’s important, tell her she’s strong. It will mean a lot to her, I promise. And if you tell her you’re disappointed or surprised by the photo shopped commercials during the sports games, or the scantily clad women on the front of store flyers and magazines, she will be so impressed, she’ll be out buying you front row tickets to see your favorite team before you’re even done talking. If she doesn’t, let me know and I will!
To stand together
So here’s my challenge: In a world that tells us to do more, be more, strive for perfection, let’s take a stand together. Love yourself for everything that you are. Let this be our focus instead:
This blog post is in no way suggesting that we shouldn’t work hard for things, or strive to reach certain goals. I fully believe that we should! I have running goals, teaching goals, and personal goals that I set this year. The key is to set realistic goals. Stay accountable with a friend- ask someone if your goals seem realistic and attainable, then keep each other on track! I have inspirational quotes and sayings written all over my room- “Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up,” “Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will,” and “If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done.” Get out there and work towards your goals! I am all about working hard at the gym! Yesterday I was running and ready to quit, but I pushed myself to finish. I’m in no way saying we shouldn’t try; I’m simply saying that we shouldn’t hold ourselves to unrealistic standards in the process.
Again, I’m also not criticizing any of these women personally (or everything that comes from Victoria’s Secret, either!) I shop there frequently, and already bought a bikini there for this summer. (Not that I’ll be wearing it anytime soon with the snow that’s coming down again now…) I have several of their bathing suits- the problem for me lies in the way that they are portrayed, and how I feel I have to look a certain way.
I’ve been there. I’ve had a hard time with all of this before, and struggled with how I looked, how often I was working out, and what I was eating. I’ve weighed less than what was healthy for my body because I thought “the less I eat the better,” and “I can’t skip a workout or will gain too much weight.” I’ll be honest- in the past year and a half, I’ve gotten so much stronger mentally with this. I don’t weigh myself on a regular basis, because I know myself and that’s not something that helps me right now. As long as I am making healthy choices, living an active lifestyle, and am still wearing my same clothes, I know that my weight remains pretty consistent. At that point in my life, I wasn’t anorexic at all, but if I continued down that path I was on, I could have been heading there in the future. I consider myself to be so much stronger now, so if you’re reading this and have felt that way, or have any questions, I’d love to talk to you! I’ve gotten more into running and fitness, and being confident is a much better feeling to have! Am I confident about myself all the time? Not even close. But I’m doing better than I was, and that’s progress.
You’re beautiful. Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently. Are you with me, ladies? Refuse to believe the lies that we are being fed- you are good enough. You are beautiful. Don’t settle for believing anything less than that. Send this to the women in your life who need to be encouraged today!
Question of the Day
- Are you influenced by the pictures of women in the news?
- How do you overcome negative thoughts?