I've got a very interesting topic to talk to you about today.
It's the price of beauty, and the power that we each individually give it, sometimes without even realising that we do.
I was about 13-14 when my thighs finally met and became the closest of friends. I never thought about it, or thought it was weird. But once my friend explained to me what it was, I started to see it EVERYWHERE. On my Pinterest, on my tumblr, on my Facebook, on Youtube, even in the shopping centre on the mannequins. I felt like a veil had been lifted off my eyes and I was starting to see what advertising and online media has done to our concept of beauty. When you have mannequins, the 'average ideal female or male body that clothes are fitted onto to see the product in use', who have thigh gaps and the type of flat stomach that you could slip-and-slide down off, it's easy to subconsciously let that into your head that that is what the average body looks like. Look at models who model clothing for the every-day person, things that us every day people would buy...
Why is this a big deal to me?
Well, lately, a trend of young women (12-20) are crash dieting, starving, and even developing Bulimia and Anorexia from the sheer obsession of shedding the weight necessary to gain these thigh gaps, collar bones, and even hip bones.
First, it's nearly impossible for many women to achieve a thigh gap. In this video, this Doctor found two women for this demonstration: one was a size 6 with a thigh gap, and the other was a size 0 without a thigh gap. X-rays of their hips showed that it's more about bone structure than the amount of weight or fat you carry: if your bones angle in and your hips are narrow, the thigh gap is virtually unachievable no matter how much you run or hit the treadmill. If your hips are wider, you may have a thigh gap no matter what your size or weight. He explains it in this -link-, which is worth a watch. Much like changing your height is impossible, so too is changing your bone structure to achieve the "thigh gap.
So for me, someone who has a TINY bone structure of hip bone, pubis and femur, I will NEVER obtain a thigh gap. It's biologically impossible, unless I were to starve myself, and let's face it...that is never going to happen in this lifetime or the next or ever in the history of ever.
(Worker in Trouble for Photoshopping Thigh Gabs: After a Target incident where a editor of their website photoshopped awfully done 'Thigh Gaps' onto the models.)
- More than 90 percent of girls – 15 to 17 years – want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest.
- 80% of children who are 10 years old are afraid of being fat. (Source)
- In this study of 3,300 girls, more than 90 percent of them (15 to 17 years) wanted to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest. (Source)
- Forty-two percent of first, second and third grade girls want to lose weight. (Source: Collins, M. "Body figure perception and preferences among preadolescent children." International Journal of Eating Disorders 10 (1991), pp 199-208.)
- In this study, 80% of 10-year-old girls had dieted. 90% of high school junior and senior women diet regularly. Young girls are more afraid of becoming fat than they are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents. (Source)
- In 2005 high school females (8.1%) were nearly twice as likely as their male counterparts (4.6%) to take diet pills, powders, or liquids without a doctor's advice to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight. Further, high school females (6.2%) were three times as likely as their male counterparts (2.8%) to vomit or take laxatives to lose weight or to keep from gaining weight. (Centers for Disease Control, Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance—2005)
- One-third of all girls in grades 9 to 12 think they are overweight, and 60 percent are trying to lose weight. (Quoting the Girl Scout Research Institute, 2002-2004).
- Girls who watch TV commercials featuring underweight models lose self-confidence and become more dissatisfied with their own bodies (SOURCE: Dove Campaign, “Dove Campaign for Real Beauty to Help Foster Self-Esteem in Girls”.
- In a survey of adolescents in grades 9 through 12 (approximately ages 14-18), more than 59% of females and 29% of males were trying to lose weight. Over 18% of girls and 8% of boys had gone without food for 24 hours or more to lose weight in the last 30 days. Of the girls, 11.3% had used diet pills and 8.4% had vomited or taken laxatives to lose weight. [Centers for Disease Control, 2004]
- Girls and young women who more frequently consume or engage with mainstream media content also support the sexual stereotypes that paint women as sexual objects. [Ward, 2002;Ward and Rivadeneyra, 1999;Zurbriggen and Morgan, 2006]
A Kaiser Foundation study by Nancy Signorielli found that:
- In movies, particularly, but also in television shows and the accompanying commercials, women's and girls' appearance is frequently commented on: 58 percent of female characters in movies had comments made about their looks, as did 28 percent in television shows and 26 percent of the female models in the accompanying commercials. Mens' and boys' appearance is talked about significantly less often in all three media: a quarter (24%) of male characters in the movies, and 10 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in television shows and commercials.
- One in every three (37%) articles in leading teen girl magazines also included a focus on appearance, and most of the advertisements (50%) used an appeal to beauty to sell their products.
- The commercials aimed at female viewers that ran during the television shows most often watched by teen girls also frequently used beauty as a product appeal (56% of commercials). By comparison, this is true of just 3 percent of television commercials aimed at men.
I've seen those model shows, and compared myself to them. "Why am I not as thin, as tall, or as picturesque as they are?" I would think to myself while watching them. In my early teen years, I tried wearing makeup because I thought it would make me prettier. While it made me feel a tiny bit prettier, and probably made my eyes pop out brighter or something, I couldn't stand that incessant nagging in the back of my mind of - "Is my make up running? Do I need to go and reapply it? Is that person talking to me looking at the pimple I'm trying to cover? It's flaking isn't it? I bet my mascara is running. I should go to the bathroom" and then I would, I would flake out on people and hide in the bathroom to fix something that was supposedly meant to make me feel more confident. My mother doesn't wear makeup, so it never really was in my home while growing up, I mainly got that influence through friends who were wearing it, and there is just a time in your youth as a Young Woman that you think about trying it because for some reason, it's making all your friends go from a 4 in the morning, to a bloody 11 afterwards. After those many experiences with makeup, I just put it down. I couldn't stand it, and it even began to make my sensitive skin rash out, or my eyes weep from the make up chemicals in it. Occasionally now, at the age of 18, I'll maybe apply a bit of eyeliner and mascara before I go out somewhere special, but I INSTANTLY regret it as soon as I go out and those nagging voices come back.
The experience that made me put make up down was when my mum noticed I was getting really self conscious with my makeup, and my hair, and how I looked. She would talk to me when we had the time, would ask me questions but without being a nosy mum who just nags and tries to 'fix everything up for you', and when she asked me that crucial question of - "Why do you wear makeup?" the only reason I could think of at that age was that I wanted to appear pretty to other people, but in reality, I was always agitated and accidentally rubbing my eyes then shrieking like a nazgul after I failed to remember that I was wearing makeup. She then asked me if it made me happy, and I couldn't reply back because what I was going to say was something that was going to solidify what she was teaching me. I then began to look at before-and-after pictures of makeup, and made up my own mind about it. I know each girl wears make up for a plethora of reasons - hiding acne scarred skin, hiding blemishes, to feel more confident for THEMSELVES and not to wear it for others - so I'm stressing this fact that I'm not trying to make it out like makeup is the worst thing ever, it's not...but just consider WHY you wear it, and is it really worth all the time, money, and thought that you put into it?
But then one day, while I was talking to my mum about beauty and how society and media have deformed and mutilated what that word even means now, I was patting my dog and began to feel jutting out bones. I went into instant panic mode and began to believe that either my dog was anorexic, dying, malnourished, had broken bones, or worse. All in one burst of flashing lights, I realised that if I worry about my dog when she had jutting out bones, why wouldn't I worry for myself if I did? That's when collar bones lost their shine, their sparkle, and I realised just how silly it is.
But are we becoming like that because our society is teaching us to be self-absorbed, to focus on ourselves and to forget others, so that we can become what others look up to, aspire to be, and wish they were? And what about these models and actors that we look up to? Can they really be the picture of what we dream to be physically when more and more pictures of them on magazines are being revealed to be highly photoshopped to slim down, perk up, remove, and re-colour?
Just take a look at some of these famous celebrities and their before-and-after shots on photo shoots.
- Consumer Attitudes About Cosmetic Surgery Survey 2008
- Americans’ general approval of cosmetic surgery
- 56% of women say they approve of cosmetic surgery
- 57% of men say they approve of cosmetic surgery
- Would consider cosmetic surgery for self, now or in the future
- 31% of women
- 20% of men
- Would not be embarrassed about having cosmetic surgery
- 78% of women say that, if they had cosmetic surgery in the future, they would not be embarrassed if people outside their immediate family and close friends knew about it
- 79% of men would not be embarrassed
- Would consider cosmetic surgery for self, now or in the future, by age [includes both men and women]
- 10% of Americans age 65 or older
- 21% of 55-64 year olds
- 27% of 45-54 year olds
- 34% of 35-44 year olds
- 34% of 25-34 year olds
- 27% of 18-24 year olds
- Would consider cosmetic surgery for self, now or in the future, by marital status [includes both men and women]
- 26% of married Americans
- 25% of unmarried Americans
- Would consider cosmetic surgery for self, now or in the future, by race/ethnicity [includes both men and women]
- 27% of white Americans
- 24% of non-white Americans
- Would consider cosmetic surgery for self, now or in the future, by child in household [includes both men and women]
- 29% of Americans with child in household
- 24% of Americans with no child in household
I love the campaign, and the promotional picture that they have about how the price of one beauty thing on the list, could buy you a whole different experience from a different perspective.
In the last 6 years, I've had to grow and learn about myself. I had to feel comfortable with things that I wish I could just have removed, or wished that I wasn't born with. I have cursed my big thighs, big butt, cellulite, flabby stomach 'pouch', and what I think are flabby arms, but I have grown to love these things about myself, and to realise that ANYTHING that is on me - the little mole near my right eye, my oddly shaped hourglass but more like a broken hourglass figure, my gold flecks of hair that are randomly thrown throughout my hair - is me, it's mine and nobody else's, and that's why I love it. They are unique, but I am unique. We are all unique. We shouldn't have to try to fit and conform to a standard in society that doesn't exist except through photoshop and unhealthy and potentially deathly ways. Be yourself, because being you is something that will bring you REAL joy that will last, and not change when the next fad changes to having shapely eyebrows instead of thigh gaps.
Let's put it this way.
You have fingers.
You are not a finger.
You have fat.
You are not fat.
Now, to end on a lighter note, this fantastic Youtuber made the most HILARIOUS video on how to fake thigh gaps :P Give it a look, I was busting a gut from laughing so hard.