ASK A WOMAN to name her favorite body parts and many, if not most, will give an often bashful and innocuous response:
“I have a nice smile.”
“I have good hair.”
“I think my eyes are pretty.”
ASK THOSE SAME WOMEN to name what they would change about their bodies and the answers come rushing at you like a tsunami of self-loathing:
“Ugh. I hate my thighs and that little tummy bulge I can’t get rid of no matter how many crunches I do. Oh! and my ankles are too big.”
“I can’t put on weight to save my life! My knees are knobby, my neck is too long, I could stand to go up a cup size or two and my butt is flatter than an American Idol reject’s audition.”
RARELY DO YOU get a proud:
“I love my ass…it can stop traffic” or “You know that ZZ Top song? Legs? It was written about me. Truth.”
THE FACT IS many women are conditioned to hate their bodies through the simple and often subconscious acts of observation and comparison. We observe other women, often in the media and compare ourselves to the “standard of beauty” the media spoon feeds us day in and day out.
THE PROBLEM IS that what the media shows us and what is real are often two very different things.
WE ALL KNOW that celebrities and models are airbrushed beyond belief (Pimples and cellulite? What pimples and cellulite?) but what other digital manipulation is done? Just how big is the lie?
I CAME ACROSS THESE PHOTOS of Hayden Panettiere the other day and was genuinely shocked at what I saw.
HERE SHE IS on the cover of the latest issue of Glamour Magazine:
and here’s an image from the article:
SHE LOOKS STUNNING in these photos. Blemish? What’s a blemish? Her abs are totally enviable and her legs! Holy crap her legs look like she stole them from a supermodel - extremely long and lean which is amazing considering she’s roughly 5’2”. I don’t know about you, but it leaves me wondering what kind of workout she must do to get such gorgeous gams…until…
I SEE THIS CANDID photo of her taken on the beach the last week of March.
Notice anything different? I know I sure do.
IN THE FIRST two photos she appears almost inhuman in her perfection. I would be tempted to sell my soul for legs like that! Looking at that photo makes me think “if she can look that good, so can I”…if I workout like a lunatic, eat 350 calories a day and consume a steady stream of laxatives. Hardly a fair tradeoff – a life of hell and eventual organ failure for a stellar pair of stems and an uber-flat tummy…but it’s a tradeoff some women are willing to make.
ENTER THE CANDID PHOTO. She looks *gasp* normal. Her legs look like they belong on someone who is a petit 5’2”. Instead of being supermodel crazy-skinny she looks like she eats…like a normal human being. She look perfectly normal and cute and drastically different from the photoshopped lies that Glamour is producing.
So what’s the big deal if they photoshop? We all know they do it.
OF COURSE we know magazines edit their images. Even I, as a photographer, will edit out pimples and make teeth a little whiter for my clients…but these photos demonstrate how drastic the extent of the manipulation truly is. Magazines lie. Plain and simple. Seeing is believing.
MAGAZINES RUN IMAGES like these with interviews. Interviews where they ask about diet and exercise. Interviews where some of the actresses say things like:
“Oh, I don’t have a regular workout routine. I just walk my dog. I like to go for hikes when I can and I eats lots of vegetables. My guilty pleasure is eating barbeque. I eat it whenever I can. I love it so much!”
WHEN YOU READ interviews that talk about minimal amounts of exercise and binges on fatty food and then look at the images of them staring off into the sunset with their godlike physiques it makes people feel like sh*t. They begin to wonder why, when they eat healthy, count calories and exercise regularly, they don’t look like the actresses & models they see.
The “what’s-wrong-with-me” mantra begins and leaves women feeling so much less than what they really are.
MAYBE THE MORE we talk about the lie, the less power it will have. Once women truly know that what they see isn’t even close to an accurate representation of reality then we can all stop torturing ourselves for not living up to a standard that is not only unrealistic but is a complete and total lie – a fabrication, a work of fiction created by computers that doesn’t exist in reality.
YOU OFTEN HEAR actresses say “I wish I looked as good in real life as I look in magazines.” Not even the actresses can live up to their own image. Now that’s crazy.
WE DESERVE better than this. We deserve honesty. We deserve truth…and so does Hayden Panettiere in all her un-edited glory.
Kisses & Chaos,
Alli Woods Frederick
If you or someone you know struggles with an eating disorder please contact National Eating Disorders Association for information and support.