Yesterday, one of the headlining stories on my AOL home page is about a woman called water_anus. Yes, that is the name she chose to use to represent her on the internet. Anyway, water_anus is stirring it up over there on reddit.com because she posted pictures of herself with and without make-up. This is nothing new, but it made me think about the importance of perception. How we see ourselves and how others see us are nearly always two different things.
Researchers did an exercise with teenage girls about body image. They gave them each a piece of paper long enough to match their height and asked them to draw what they thought was the outline of their body. Then they asked the girls to lie down inside the image that they had drawn. Each girl’s actual body was then outlined on top of the image the girls had drawn. When they were finished, the girls were amazed to find that the outline they drew of themselves was much bigger, than what the researcher’s actually traced.
Do we want to be accepted for who we really are? Sure we do. But the truth is, for the most part, we aren’t. Studies have been done on the correlation between appearance and getting a job. Often times, more attractive, but less qualified applicants will get a job over a less attractive applicant who is more qualified. Let’s face it being attractive is a pretty good thing.
Who’s to say what makes someone attractive? Well definitely the media plays a big part in it. That’s pretty much a no brainer. Cameron Russell, a model, who has walked the runways for Victoria Secret and Channel, gave a talk on TED, (Technology, Entertainment, and Design). She walked out on stage wearing a very tight, short, brown mini dress and 5 inch heels. When she began to speak she looks like she feels out-of-place and insecure. I know, right, this beautiful, leggy, sexy woman, looking awkward. But she says she feels like she’s making other woman in the audience uncomfortable so she goes about transforming herself from sexy model to geek chic. By taking off her 5 inch heels, slipping on flat shoes, wearing a sweater and maxi length wrap skirt. Her appearance changes from slinky, sexy model to a more comfortable dressed, attractive, “ any” women. I believe it took 10 seconds to transform what everyone thought of her.
They should show this video to girls in school. I’ve included this link to Cameron’s talk here:
In it, she shows pictures of herself at a young age when she first began to model. She contrasts the pictures taken of her on the same day. In one, she looks like an average gawky 16-year-old at a sleep over with her friends. to the picture of her, taken that same day, that appeared in a magazine. She wants other women and girls to know how many people and how much work it to make her appear the way she did in the magazine. She refers to herself as “the product” of the way the magazine wants her to look so her image can sell a product.
Moms, Dads, anyone who cares for girls should make them sit down and watch this video. I’m not saying it will change their minds from thinking that they should be thinner, prettier or smarting than they think they are, but maybe somewhere, in the back of their minds, they might be able to understand that they are being programmed by magazines, TV and film to think that they will never be good enough.
I showed the video to my own 16-year-old daughter. At first I had to stand there with her and make sure she watched it. Then, slowly, it caught her attention. She sat down, on her own, in my chair and watched the video with her full attention. I asked her if it changed her mind at all about her self-esteem issues.
She said, “There will always but someone, smarter, thinner and prettier than me.”
I hope at some level, she, and all women, will learn to love and accept themselves. Just like in the song Bruno Mars sings, “Cause you’re amazing, just the way you are.” And she is. I just hope someday, she, and all women can come to realize that.