Monday, 15 September 2014


Disclaimer: I have no problem whatsoever with long legs, skinny girls, visible bones, size 0 or whatever. I have a problem with long legs, skinny girls, visible bones or size 0 becoming the standard that every girl should be obliged to aspire to. There are countless body types, hair or eye colors, and sizes that women are born with. 

There is nothing wrong with being stylish, therefore there is nothing wrong with style tips. However, style or fashion should not be used to make women feel bad about themselves. ..... What? 
Tell me which of the following feels better:
  • Wearing pastel colors is fashionable this season. 
  • Wearing pastel colors can make your humble buttons appear bigger, so rock this pink pastel shirt!    
Hopefully you understand the point that I'm trying to express here. You may proceed. 

This article by Jenny Block has inspired our blog post (we recommend you to read it). Or precisely the response we got on our social media after posting this article. 
Jenny Block has pointed out the problematic message that gets to women through glossy magazines, it sneaks in so quietly that we often mistake it for well meant advises. 
"You are flawed, but we can tell you how to cover your flaws up."
"We can help you create an illusion that you are pretty."  
If I was asked to address the root cause of this situation I would most probably point my finger at popular belief that there is one type of body and one favored face structure considered beautiful and all the other body types should be covered up in such a way to mimic one perfect body type. People who unconsciously believe it to be true accept the fact that it's normal to feel uncomfortable in your skin. 

Women are advised to create an "illusion" and use "tricks" in order to appear acceptable. This way fashion magazines send us two messages:
  • Who you really are is ugly, and
  • You should work harder not to reveal the truth, trick everyone into thinking you are someone else, someone pretty enough to be loved.

If you are aging (how surprising) - use this cream
If you have pimples (how disgusting) - use this face wash 
If you are getting fat - take this pill, go on this diet
If you are tall - wear this type of trousers
If you are short - wear those shoes
If you are skinny - wear this skirt 

The motto that we don't hear is:

"As long as women don't accept who they are or how they look, the business is doing great." 

Caution: running naked in public is a criminal offence,
 even in Nike shoes

We live in an environment that surrounds us with images of perfect beauty. Never before in our history we were exposed to this amount of images of human body. However, we are being shown very little variety of what our body looks like. We grow up seeing only tall, skinny, blemishless women. 

Images of long legs or flat stomach are used excessively to sell us products that are in no way connected with female body. We have recently seen more pictures of male torsos, but really the amount of perfectly sculpted male abs is low compared to amount of female body parts used in ads or other media. 

The image of how female body should look like sneaks into our brains every day, we don't even notice it. Do a little experiment: on your way to work count billboards with images of women. If you don't yet understand the difference on how female and male body is used, after experiment 1 please do experiment 2. On your way to work count the amount of billboards with men on them. 

Like... Whats the point....?
Such exposure to images of perfect beauty has real life consequences. We tend to brush them aside, perhaps because the are typically "female problems". We ignore the influence media has on young girls and women. We trivialize the fact that women grow up seeing countless examples of how they should look like.  It's more than obvious that seeing models who are abnormally skinny triggers the endless dieting process in lives of many women. Often, it morphs into serious problem, like anorexia for example. 

Anorexia is "girls problem", so is bulimia. Boys are only 10 to 15% of anorexics. Nobody really cares that young women are starving themselves, disappearing in front of our eyes. Diabetes is genetic (they say), but anorexia is just a hysterical teenager with low self-esteem. Her fault, she's to be blamed for dieting too much.. well, anorexics diet till death. If you ever wondered why we should treat images of skinny women more seriously, here are some facts about anorexia. 

  • 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.”5
  •  Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents.7
  •  25% of college-aged women engage in bingeing and purging as a weight-management technique.3
  •  The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old.4
  •  Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.17
  •  47% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported wanting to lose weight because of magazine pictures.12
  •  In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight.1
  • 69% of girls in 5th-12th grade reported that magazine pictures influenced their idea of a perfect body shape.13
  •  42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
  • The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.3
  •  81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
  •  Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.4

As a parent, wouldn't you like your government to do something about such dangerous, widespread  disease?

That's not the point, I wanted to write about something else. 

Women who write about beauty standards get very typical feedback. Mostly from men, but comments from women happen as well. 
  1. Do you think men's bodies are not idealized in media? (Yes, they are.)
  2.  Do you think men's bodies are not subject to similar scrutiny? (No, they are not. Look at experiment1 and experiment2. Then find me at least 3 articles with fashion tips for men where guys are advised how to create an illusion of flat stomach or larger biceps. Or just check this out)
  3. There is no harm in fashion tips. (No, unless they are filled with messages of self-hatred) 
  4. Plus, some women may actually need them... (Please, read the article by Jenny Block)
  5. You are not pretty (read: you are ugly, lazy, moaning bitch), so you speak against beauty standards. 

"Desired effect" mention by this boy might be the key in understanding this post. btw there is no mention of "it's ok to tell men their bodies suck" in the article

Last issue with speaking against beauty standards, or any other issue addressed by feminists. Men asking why particular book, article or post doesn't mention men. 

It seems like men believe they are so important that a woman writing an article for women about female problem is somehow a threat to them. 

If I write an article about boats are you justified to complain why I didn't mention anything about submarines? Kind of similar subject, but.. no. 

If men need their voice to be heard they have all the possible options to express their thoughts. If they have any trouble because of their sex they are free to speak and write about it. In fact it could be beneficial for us all to see how gender roles really screw us all. Men don't need feminists to speak for them, and yet many feminists add "men have it hard too" and acknowledge that life of men isn't that easy. Having said that, I still believe that feminism is a movement focused on women for a reason. Ever heard about patriarchy? I guess it's like asking fish what water is.... 

Women are born in all sort of sizes and shapes, every "beauty standard" is by definition an impractical and even harmful concept. We cannot standardize humans like we standardize pencils. Time to fall in love with who we are. Time to accept our hips, bellies, breasts, cellulite and wrinkles because.. f**k it will save us tones of time and money. Not to mention the fact that self-acceptance increases levels of happiness ;) so have a good day ladies and gentleman. Close this shitty magazine you've been reading, wear what makes you FEEL beautiful and enjoy your life without thinking whether this shirt makes you look fat! 

Written by Inanna

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