By Nancy Wylde
The ongoing debate continues over body image – especially women’s body image and what real women look like.
In February’s issue of Marie Claire magazine, Australian Jennifer Hawkins ( Miss Universe 2004) posed naked to ‘bare all her flaws’ – (meaning no air brushing or retouching) in the hope to show women as they really are.
Jennifer mentioned that posing naked for the cameras without any retouching or airbrushing gave her a sense of empowerment. Courageous and bold as Miss Hawkins was, her body image still sent waves of controversy about what ‘real’ women look like. In fact it was received as a statement of what ‘real supermodels’ look like.
In fact breakfast radio host and TV presenter Bianca Dye who had posed naked for Madison magazine in their November edition in 2009 ( curves and all) slammed the glossy fashion magazine Marie Claire for hailing Jennifer Hawkins as a ‘positive role model for body image’.
In another attack on Jennifer’s photos, former Australian Idol finalist and Young Diva Ricky Lee Coulter who is famous for being confident with her body posed for Woman’s Day to show us ’how a real woman looks’.
Fact is that the average woman, the ‘real’ woman is anywhere between a 12-16. Yet most of us ( women) who fit into this category are made to feel as if we are ‘overweight’.
So entrenched through television and magazines as well as conditioning since we were little girls that a size 10 is the ‘acceptable’ image for women that anything above a size 10 and we begin to look for fad diets to quickly lose the extra few kilos.
Such was the pressure of ’body image’ that a ten year old little girl whom I knew well from my teaching days began hiding her food under her bed and throwing away her school lunches as a result of her swimming coach suggesting she losing weight to gain an extra few seconds on her time to maintain her title of champion.
Beauty pageants all over the world not only continue to seek out some of the world’s most beautiful women, but specifically women whose ‘body image’ is in keeping with that of a supermodel.
I for one would love to wake up in a world where a 40 year old woman, who has had 3 or 4 children, was eligible to enter such a contest, regardless of her shape or size and that the only criteria for entering the competition was that she was a woman.
If we are to have women represent ‘what real women look like’ we need to re-evaluate what the term ‘real woman’ means.
The average ‘real woman’ does not look like a supermodel. Unless she has had cosmetic surgery she will no doubt have a little belly bulge, sagging breasts and lots of curves!
This does not make you ugly. Glossy magazines and the media make you feel ugly.
How do we change this?
Support organisations and magazines that are attempting to change the ‘image of women’ and offer us a view of what ‘real women’ really do look like.
Nothing is more empowering for women than to begin to become pro-active in changing the way we are viewed. There is no ‘perfect body image’. That is a fact!
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