When we look at images of models in magazines we are subconsciously storing them in our minds as “normal.” The biggest example of this is when we shop online. We have all purchased an item from a website off of a model who is the standard industry required size, which is women who are 5’9″-6’0″ and a size 0-2. We saw it, loved it, bought it, and waited patiently for it to arrive at our door. Then when it does our excitement turns to disgust because the clothes look nothing like they did in the image that we stored in our mind of how it “should look.” We then take that frustration and disappointment out on our bodies as if our body had done something wrong.
Women continually find themselves in this negative cycle because the majority are not aware that there is a lot more that goes into creating the “image” that sold you the product in the first place that you might think. It is not your body that is the problem and it never was. It is the media messaging and manipulation you experienced that has had a negative affect on your mind, body, and soul; that is the problem. On this website Iam going to be bringing you thought provoking content to help assist you in challenging the “beauty ideal” that is harming so many as well as challenging the views you have of yourself and your body.
Let’s start by challenging the one image that women are shown as “ideal.” In fashion, the ideal is tall and extremely thin. Yes I use the word extreme because the requirements set by clients and modeling agencies are so drastic that only a small percentage of models can attain them at all, let alone in a healthy way. This is a great place to start! I am showing you this image of my body that is not retouched or altered to show that I am 5’9″ and 165 pounds. I workout 3-4 days per week doing a heavy weight lifting program and I throw in some hiking, swimming, and walking here and there. I eat a healthy balanced diet, meaning I eat healthy foods and do not consume too many or too few calories for the day. I have a healthy BMI and my weight balances itself and has for the past 8 years. That is how I know this is where my body wants to be! Now for the good stuff! I am considered “plus size” in the modeling world and I would need to lose over 50 pounds to be able to model as a “straight size” model, which are all the girls you see in magazines and on billboards today. You can see in this photo that for me to lose 50 pounds it would be extremely damaging to my health. Before we go any further I would like to reiterate that I am not saying that all models are unhealthy. If you are at least 5’9″ and naturally a size 0 or 2 than you would fall into the 4% of women. Making my point clear that it is not the model’s body that needs to be the topic of discussion, but the overall image that is being portrayed to women as healthy and attainable. Now take a look at this side by side we did of these clothes purchased from Zara. On the left is the model used to sell this outfit and on the right is me in the same clothes different size. All of the sudden I went from looking healthy and beautiful in my picture alone to that dreaded word, “big.” We have no frame of reference when we look at images of models or celebrities. That is what this is all about! Giving you a healthy perspective. Am I “big?” Or, are the images we are shown daily in the media unhealthy and causing harm to our mental health? These are questions you need to ask yourself!
These jeans are the Zara Boyfriend Jean in a US size 10 and European size 42. The same lace top the model is wearing I purchased in a size large. It was a really interesting for me to shoot these images and try to get them as close as possible to the model’s photo because I kept thinking, “God I look huge.” Or, “Why can’t I get it to look the same?” That was when I truly understood why this is so important. This model is an extremely small size for her height, so much so that it was difficult to even get my body to pose the same way. I tried to have the same space between my legs, or angle to my body and I couldn’t. You can see that the shirt I received was about 4 inches shorter in the midsection leading me to wonder, “Is this a different shirt?” Or, maybe it is because this model had no breast was able to shoot this image without a bra on? I have a D cup chest and have to wear a bra. Could that possibly be why my top was so much shorter? Because I filled it out more vs it hanging straight?
Regardless of the reason why, there was no way this top would look the same on me as it did on the “model body type.” And I know I am not alone in this. Which leads me to my next question, ” Why would you want to use a body-type that only fits less than 4% of the female population?” More importantly, why would you want to glamorize an image that is underweight as normal and attainable? Images like this one make it easy to understand why I am considered “plus size” in the industry when you get to see my size next to the standard straight size model. When I tell people I am a plus size model they usually laugh in my face and say, “That is just crazy.” But seeing just how extremely thin models are required to be next to a healthy weight makes it clear that in the fashion industry I am “plus size.” But we have to start to look at what this distortion is doing to the female psyche as a whole. I know how I felt even shooting these images and the insecurities that popped into my mind reminding me of “How I should look.” Followed by the frustration of not being able to achieve that look. That is what girls and women feel every day because of our beauty ideals and that is what we need to change!
Again, I am a ideal weight for my height and if I went to a doctor I would get a perfect bill of health, that is why I am going to be showing you just how distorted our image of health really is! I am going to be doing all kinds of shoots like this one to show you how the clothes really look on a more average healthy size person. The argument is not to say which model or size looks better. That would be missing the point entirely because beauty does not have a weight limit. The goal is only to give girls and women a healthy perspective and a second option. We are only shown one image, and because of that we believe we only have one choice when it comes to who we are, “allowed” to be. I want you to know that is a lie. I want to challenge that belief by exposing you to more options. Healthier, more realistic, and fulfilling options that leave you feeling secure with who you are. Shifting your focus away from solely wanting to be “skinny” to wanting to be “healthy.” No matter what size your body frame is. If we want to see a healthier image represented in the media well then we must create it ourselves! Regardless of what body type the fashion industry decides to use, every one of us can still choose to love our bodies, live a healthy lifestyle, and most important of all use our free will to think for ourselves. In order to have healthy bodies we have to begin to develop healthy minds and that is why seeing images that challenge your beliefs are key to creating an opportunity for new beliefs and a new you that is happy, healthy, and thankful for the body you have now.