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Truths Behind Picture Perfect Body Images

I believe in the whole “fake it ’till you make it” motto. Even when I don’t feel exceptionally confident, I try to act like I am! Believe me though, there are days when I don’t want the world to see me; days when I just want to shut everyone out and stay snuggled in bed with my Netflix account. I don’t feel confident, attractive, or stylish enough to go out and interact with people. Negative body image can bring me down. Nearly everyone, at some point in their life, suffers from their own negative perception of themselves.

Recently, I found my head hanging a little too low after flipping through several fashion and lifestyle magazines. Advertisements and photo shoots showed pages and pages of perfect models, and radiant celebrities. I found myself thinking, “What can I do to look like that?” My self-esteem was low, but instead of going to the nearest drug store and picking up the latest beauty product, I did a little Internet research. I read up on articles that talked about the exact effects I was experiencing after seeing the ads. I learned that advertisers want us to feel bad about ourselves! It’s as simple as that. They want to make us feel bad so we buy what they’re selling. By beating down our body perception they convince us that all the makeup, beauty products, clothing, dieting and so forth is all necessary to make us look as beautiful as the women we see on the pages.

Those images we see are simulacrum, or a copy with no original. Each model in the photo is air-brushed, slimmed down, lit to perfection and then mass-produced in publications. The original photo isn’t being replicated; the technologically advanced one is. Models and celebrities don’t look that perfect in real life. The amount of women with this so-called “perfect body” represents a very small minority in today’s society. In America, “the average model is 25% thinner than the national average weight and only represents 5% of females in the country.” Models are also an average of 5’7 and 117 lbs., whereas the average American woman is 5’4 and 140 lbs. Even when magazines are highlighting naturally thin and beautiful women, they still go above and beyond to make them look perfect. It’s important to keep in mind that what we see is not real.

What magazines aren’t showing us are the hours of professionally trained hair and makeup crews that transform these celebrities and models into works of art. You don’t see the fan blowing their hair back perfectly, the light that’s angled just right to illuminate their skin, and the photo editing process that eliminates any flaws. In recent years, there have been multiple Photoshop scandals that surfaced in the public. Components of images were altered: skin enhancements, body slimming, cellulite and wrinkle smoothing. Crystal Renn, one of the best-known plus-sized models was quoted in the New York Times saying that magazines have even altered her photos to make her look larger. By doing that, she’ll fit the image of a “plus-size” model better.

This is a big problem in today’s society, and we are seeing these images more than ever before. Advancements in media culture have begun to produce images of beauty everywhere we turn: in magazines, all over social media websites like Facebook, movies, music videos, television, poster advertisements, etc. That’s why more females are suffering from negative body perception; the negative messages are reaching greater audiences. The greater the volume of exposure that leads women to think they should be tall, tan, sexy and overall perfect, the lower their self-esteem plunges. All that we see is a final image of perfection that women can’t duplicate. Once it’s understood that it’s the mission of an advertisement to make us feel bad for not looking like the women it portrays, we can fight it. We can build a more positive perspective instead.

Here are a few tips to try when building up your confidence in your body image:

·         Love yourself: Everyone is different and unique. You’re the only you that exists, so learn to love yourself.  There is more to you then just your body. Base your self-esteem on a wide range of personal traits and attributes.

·         Find real people to admire: If you start admiring people for their character, personality, and intelligence, you’ll realize that there is more to people than how they look on the outside. That will then help change your view of yourself.

·         Stop being your own worst critic: Stop the self-hate! Instead of bringing yourself down about something you don’t like, point out all the things you do like. Change your state of mind to see how awesome you are.

·         Be realistic: If weight loss and getting in shape is a concern for you, be realistic about it. Being healthy takes time and patience; and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

·         Learn to live a healthy lifestyle: Exercising and eating clean isn’t just for weight loss; it’s good for your body overall. It makes your organs run better and makes you feel better. It gives you more energy and a boost of endorphins. Reese Witherspoon says it best as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” You have to agree, that’s definitely a positive!

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