Have you ever been surfing the Internet and come across one of the many “How to Get Legs Like Carrie Underwood” or “The Secrets to Jennifer Aniston’s Glowing Skin” articles? Such articles touting “tricks of the trade” to obtain the most desirable features of many celebrities merely make students feel inadequate about their bodies and cause them to compare themselves to these images of sheer perfection that the media bombards them with every day.
As society becomes more and more tuned in to the recent trending nutrition and health craze, people are becoming increasingly more insecure about their appearance and body shape, especially members of the younger generations. The opinions and remarks coming from entertainment shows, talk shows, newscasts, radio broadcasts, magazines, tabloids, newspapers, and social media websites are nothing short of vicious. Such brutal and degrading criticisms even cause some celebrities to refuse to watch television and read magazines. The fact that even the most attractive and in-shape stars are being condemned for not meeting the standards of society’s ideal image explains why many students have such low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.
To combat this debilitating issue that is consuming our generation, body image activists are going corporate and launching various movements to fight back and encourage people to embrace their inner beauty and natural features. The women’s retail store aerie recently introduced an ad campaign called aerie Real this past spring, which features all models with no airbrushing in an effort to “challenge supermodel standards”. The retail store is strongly promoting this ad campaign by branding their images with the statement “The girl in this photo has not been retouched” as well as giving customers bags saying, “The girl holding this bag has not been retouched”.
Another company trying to make a difference, Dove (Unilever), conducted a social experiment in which an FBI-trained sketch artist drew various individuals based on their own self-perception and then based on a stranger’s perception. The campaign released the video called “Real Beauty Sketches”, which reaped more viewings than any ad video ever made. The short film revealed that the stranger’s perception was more realistic and resembled more of what the person actually looked like compared to that person’s self-perception, which was generally less stereotypically attractive. In an effort to build positive self-esteem, Dove successfully proved the point that people are their own worst beauty critics and do not see their true beauty and potential.
The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence is known for lashing out at the TV show, The Fashion Police, in which the host Joan Rivers offensively criticizes and condemns celebrity outfits and body shapes. Lawrence has told the press that she believes the film industry does not take responsibility for the effects it has had on society in terms of setting such unrealistic expectations. When she was cast for the role of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, Jennifer was told to lose ten pounds. Lawrence adamantly shot down the suggestion with the following quote: “This is a person that young girls – well all women, but mainly young girls – will be looking up to and are going to want to look like her, and we have control over it, so why not make her strong? Why not make her beautiful, healthy, and fit?” Well said, Jennifer!
Although a few ad campaigns and inspiring celebrities won’t solve the issue at hand between negative self-esteems and images of people in the media, it is certainly a step in the right direction. It is imperative that we don’t rely on glamorous photo shoots and magazine covers for our inspiration, as even the most stunning celebrities do not truly look the way they do in the polished and perfected print we have access to. Are you ready and willing to accept the challenge to embrace your inner beauty?