Today is Blog Action Day and thousands of bloggers are posting about human rights. I look forward to spending some time later scoping out the brilliance.
But today is also Love Your Body Day and that’s where my blogging heart and mind are so that’s what I want to talk about today.
The premise behind the Love Your Body campaign is a challenge to the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.
We’re all smart, we all get this, and yet the truth is the societal message is so insidious, so prevalent, so always-there-in-your-face it’s clear we don’t actually get it. If we did little girls at ever younger ages wouldn’t be obsessed with weight and dieting. If we did our hearts and souls wouldn’t be hurt when someone said something ridiculous about our worth based on our body. And even more importantly the idea that it was actually okay to both dictate and judge what was beautiful on a one-size-fits-all standard would be seen for what it is – ludicrous.
I’m fat. I’ve never been thin. And I have been at recipient of comments that have hurt me, and for many years shaped how I felt about myself. I can tell you it’s not a good thing. It’s take-your-breath-away painful when someone you don’t know says something deliberately to hurt you; but it’s sad and hurtful too when friends who love you slip into judgment as well without realizing it. That’s why I think it’s so important to be mindful of what we’re saying and what we hold to be true, and to always be curious and willing to confront our prejudices.
According to PLUS Model Magazine, twenty years ago a model weighed 8 percent less than the average woman; today, she weighs 23 percent less.
“What people don’t realize is that most of those girls are adolescents,” says Ziff. “They haven’t gone through puberty yet. And when it’s a 14-year-old that’s setting the standard for feminine beauty, that puts pressure on her not to grow up; it puts pressure on older models to starve themselves to get that gangly physique, and then there’s the effect that it has on consumers as well.”
We don’t seem to be able to make the leap from this-is-crazy to well let’s-do-something-different.
Early this month I read an interesting article in The Nation. Here’s a link where you can read it online if you’d like. I suggest you do because it’s fascinating how we’ve now taken things even further and are exploiting young girls from other nations in our ever-increasing obsession for younger, more exotic, and as is, unfortunately the new American way, ever cheaper. The gist of the article is about an organization, Model Alliance, working to organize and protect vulnerable children and teen models in what is largely a totally unregulated industry with regard to labor practices.
I see this as a rather exciting back-door entrance to shifting our thoughts about what’s acceptable and then opening the discussion about how we might want to broaden our definitions of beautiful. Because truthfully we should all feel beautiful – and be witnessed by others as beautiful as well. How did we ever get on a path where this wasn’t the case?!
I also want to send you over to read this blog post at The Militant Baker which talks about why it’s important to have size-inclusive models and one company that’s made that a mission.
And given that what I’ve been talking about has focused on the modeling industry, I thought I’d link to this video as well. Designer Rick Owens opted to use college step teams to model his line at the Paris fashion shows this fall.
If you know anything about me you know I love to look at things in layers. I love that we can work collectively to make change, and I love that we can each do our own explorations.
I’m working on a body of work about me and one of the things I’m playing with is paper dolls. Here’s one I’ve created with a love letter to my body.
Send somebody a love letter today. Tell them they’re perfect exactly the way they are. You know it’s true, and today might just be the day they need to hear it. And then tell yourself. Tell your body. You’re in this together and what’s more wonderful than being in love?