What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Perhaps you see a beautiful, glowing, young woman. Or, if you are the majority of girls in our society, you will look in the mirror and dissect every flaw you THINK you have; weight, nose, shoulders, height, lips, and every other possible insecurity.

Does anyone truly know how much of an issue body image is for women and even young girls? It’s time to have this long-awaited conversation.

The Department of Communications, College of Arts and Sciences, the Hochberg Women’s Center, the Douglas and Judith Krupp Library, and Residence Life Women’s Development Initiative hosted a Media Literacy Event this past Monday (since it is Media Literacy Week, didn’t you know?) here at Bryant University.

The film, Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image, was shown to a large audience of Bryant men and women. After the movie, there was a panel of women, those of which are students at Bryant, as well as professors.

 

 

If you have not yet seen this film, you should.

In short, it exploited magazines and the models that are plastered within many of them: the false sense of beauty that must be a size zero, unrealistically busty yet stick-thin, and Caucasian women. Models of different ethnicities and sizes banded together to make a photography exhibit like no other. During this journey, each woman weighed in on how they feel about this pressing body image issue that our country is suffering from. 

The film also incorporated the disappointing truth of how this self-perception issue is infiltrating younger and younger girls. The journey these women took together was a recipe for an astonishing and effective message that all women should see and hear (and ultimately take part in). Many girls were interviewed, and had no problem expressing how they truly feel when they look at themselves in the mirror on a daily basis. The audience could not help but feel their frustration, anguish, disappointment, and every other feeling that follows with this societal monster. Overall, this film appropriately elaborated on how women, especially larger women, feel about themselves and how they look, and why the media pushes women farther and farther to their breaking point.

Did you know that plus-size women can rarely ever find trendy, fashionable clothing?

Just because a woman is visibly larger than others, why do people automatically assume they are unhealthy?

Do you feel rightfully represented in the fashion industry, or even when flipping through a magazine?

Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image is a film that should be shown on more college campuses, exposed to larger audiences, and should not just be a showing event for extra credit. People, especially a primary college student demographic, should be determined to learn about this issue so we as a whole can be educated and come together to stop it. Will this ever happen?

Consequently, it’s all up to us: the women. Since we have barely seen any improvement for far too long on the body image shaming and the media’s falsities epidemic (we can use this word, right? The number of girls who suffer from eating disorders without a doubt is an epidemic, so the cause of these can be put in the same category?) are an issue that need to be stopped. We have waited far too long for what each of us deserve and are entitled to. Too many girls and women on a daily basis are suffering from suffocating insecurities and this should not be the case.

Females should be able to wear whatever they want (but first they need to be OFFERED to wear whatever they want in all sizes, not just 0-8), look in the mirror and be able to smile and recognize what a beautiful person they truly are, and be able to live life without the fear of wrongful misjudgments, comments, or hesitancy in fulfilling the life they desire and strive for.

Luckily, Aerie, a bra and undies company (we’re huge advocates) use models in their catalogues, billboards, and in their stores who are not photo shopped, not retouched, and are completely natural. 

This seems foreign, right? The idea that a huge business like this branch of American Eagle would be so gracious and realistic enough to use photos of REAL women, who REALLY look beautiful, and are projected to the world with REAL images? Huh, seems like a good deal to us. But now we must ask, WHY must this simple marketing gesture be so out-of-reach? Clearly this method is effective. Women and girls who shop at Aerie hold this company at such a higher pedestal and will project the upmost brand loyalty, bar none.

We want and demand to see more of this:

 

And much, much, MUCH less of this:

Don't get us wrong, clearly these women who model for Victoria's Secret are gorgeous. But flaunting the miniscule population of women who might actually look like this to the rest, continuously and persistently, how could we not think that THIS is supposed to be what we look like?

Yet, we can rant about body image and how the media objectifies women for years, probably. But what truly matters are taking some sort of assertive, progressive action towards shifting our society from what it is, to what it needs and should be. This showing of Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image was just one step towards awareness, but it was isolated to the Bryant community. The conversation has been started on this campus, but it is not nearly close to being over.

The women on the panel expressed their concern, their own personal aggravation, their thoughts and their observations to the audience. One panelist knows first-hand how the industry works, as she is an African American model. She informed the audience about her experiences within the industry, and the effects she hopes to make while in it.  The conversation was multi-faceted to say the least. From Barbie being misrepresentative and misshaping young girl's minds, to their observations of women today.

This might not seem to be a “big” deal, but in reality it was. These are women Bryant students see walking around campus, eating in the dining hall, and might be in some of our classes. The professors are those of whom many may have this semester, possibly the next. These are REAL women, REAL Bryant women. That makes this Media Literacy Event all the more meaningful. We can actually walk up to these women and spark a conversation (maybe you’re even special enough where they will know your name?). It’s a shame that only the people in the audience and the panel are the ones who scratched the surface on this issue. This conversation needs to be more universal. If not, we will be stuck in this perpetual world of unattainable “beauty” and disappointment.

We must be persistent and assertive to demand change where it is rightfully deserved.  

Let’s start this conversation collegiettes, and make sure we do not let it stop!