Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Six packs are for cans

Lizzi Miller

Hey, did you hear about the time the fashion magazine showed a real woman’s body? And did you hear that, despite what some fashion editors might think, the world did not stop spinning because her perceived imperfections weren’t Photoshopped out? In fact, did you hear that instead of revolting in disgust, the readers rejoiced? I know, I know – sounds like an urban legend. But, unlike that gerbil thing, this actually happened.

Glamour’s September issue has been causing quite a stir, not because of its cover story on Jessica Simpson or feature on “331 Sexy Looks You Can Afford!” But instead the clamor is for a simple photo on Page 194. It’s a photo of a beautiful young woman with a big, wonderfully confident smile and a small, totally normal stomach pooch.

Many things are extraordinary about this photo because of, ironically, its very ordinariness. This is a woman with a stomach that looks like what so many of us see when we look in the mirror. Yet we are all taken aback because we have been so conditioned to expect so-called perfection in the glossy pages of magazines. For reference see Kelly Clarkson. See Faith Hill. See any beautiful woman that somehow wasn’t quite beautiful enough to be shown how she really looks, untouched and unaltered.

Glamour has been flooded with positive comments on the photo, as they should be. The editor and lovely young model, Lizzi Miller, appeared on the Today show earlier this week. But our visceral reaction to this image only serves to underscore a sad truth about our culture. We have been made to feel so badly about ourselves by images that are utterly unattainable that when we see something real, it shocks us. And we are moved.

Our minds are like our bodies: what you feed them matters. If we only ever ingest a diet of impossibly thin, incredibly perfect junk imagery it starts to corrode our egos. It clogs our confidence. And, before you know it, our hearts are hardened to the fact that women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes, colors and creeds.

Make no mistake, this is what they want. The beauty industry isn’t about making women feel beautiful. It’s about making us feel so horrible about ourselves for not being beautiful that we buy whatever they are selling. Making us hate who we are is a billion-dollar industry. Even Glamour, who I whole-heartedly applaud for featuring Lizzi, has a headline on the cover of that same issue that screams: “3 Flat Belly Secrets!” Two steps forward, one step back.

We all want to look our best and be healthy. But loving who we are, flaws and all, is a life-long project made harder by the messages we are bombarded with every day. Firmer. Smoother. Younger. Thinner. Right now, think of three things you don’t like about your body and then three things you love about your body. Those first three came easier, didn’t they? Now fuck those first three things. Because only those last three things matter. We are as beautiful as we feel. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


RHEA said...

Oh Ms. Snarker, this is why I love you so :) Thanks for a great post today.

;) babs said...

thank you for another great post, ms. snarker!

I will surely miss your blog as I am going on a holiday to portugal for the next 12 days...!

until then,
;) babs

kimber p said...

simply beautiful...thanks for that :)

Leah said...

Well said. Let's hope that more magazines are willing to take what unfortunately, must be termed as a risk, and start mirroring back to us consumers an attainable reality.

Big Shamu said...

Are you sure about that gerbil thing?

Julie/Bobeep said...

Thank you so much for that.

renee said...

You are so right.

J9 said...

Check out NakedJen - she's awesome, and celebrates her body in all of it's beauty!

Jeanette said...

I love your blog, I love your normal light hearted, snarky, tongue in cheek sarcasm. I love the photos, i love it all. But when you write something that really hits you like this clearly did... damn woman - you write real, real, real good.

Sarah said...

spot on!

Norma Desmond said...

*major thumbs up*

Anonymous said...

Maybe Glamour Magazine had good intentions but judging rom media backlash on television, well many women (including myself)don't feel that this is a true representation of a plus sized model or anything else.
I know I certainly don't but it looks to me as though Glamour Magazine is really having a problem in reprersenting how women really look. It's almost as if they are afraid to buck the standards of beauty they have so long embraced.
Maybe if Glamour Maghazine examined the origins of those standards they would take a more reflective position as to the visual impact on their readership.

Sapphic Says go here:

for a dose of reality.
But don't send me neagtive comments because I'll just ignore you.

Anonymous said...

She's not a "representation" of anything Anonymous Sapp. She is a Real Girl. Sometimes a woman is just a woman.

Greengrassblueskies said...

oh wow. And Angela's voiceover just leaves me crying.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Awesome post.

Anonymous said...

... and I wholeheartedly applaud you for this post... but who's perpetuating what? I enjoy your blog as much as anyone, but look no further than Tuesday's post for a diet of impossibly thin, incredibly perfect junk imagery.

mary said...

Anonymous Sapphy and Lil' Sapphy,

Really liked the first part of your first post. Great points were made. Similar to my thoughts while reading the post.

I just don't know why this was added:

Sapphic Says go here:

for a dose of reality.
But don't send me neagtive comments because I'll just ignore you."

Why the put down? Is it to raise Lil' Sapphy up?

Danielle Warby said...

love to you ms snarker x

MakingSpace said...

She's beautiful - and radiant - and delicious - and I might buy the magazine if they had more photos like that one, and (hint hint) larger bodies.

Metaxu said...

I'm trying to ignore all those Photoshoped pictures they put down our throats (or rather brains) every day. I can't say I'm superathletic or skinny, but I like my body. I feel well in my own skin and I like girls who feel the same way about themselves. That's what I find attractive. I always wonder is it because I'm not a Glamourish magazines reader or I'm not a Glamourish magazines reader because of that :)
P.S. I've just ended watching the last episode of 'My So-Called Life'. God, how could they kill such a series?! It's absolutely brilliant! And really great thanks to Miss Snarker, because I've picked it from here :)

Sarah said...

I agree, Snarker. She is stunning...and why, if she's so normal? It's as if we are so conditioned regarding what women look like that we've forgotten to look into the mirror -- let alone embrace what we see.

And with all due respect, seldom do women actually have bonafide 'six packs' on the pages of magazines such as Glamour or Self (Shape, even!) -- you have to go to Oxygen Mag for that type of thing, as every other publication seems to shy away from depicting women as anything more than waif-ish.

j said...

i definitely think this is a step in the right direction, but i'm more inclined to agree with anonymous sapp.
i definitely think there's only a degree of "normal" the media is yet willing to accept.

Anonymous said...

to be honest,
i don't have any to hate myself.
o, just lucky.

and ds,
what about i mean not thinking it as a perfect body thing?

i thought that the people who are
working for the picture making
like their product
whatever the image,
like the way i guess.

if i make a picture to sell
i want to make it looks good
even it's not true i think it
doesn't matter.

it's matter now cus it's human's body and some people feel unhappy with. and maybe young teens do diet
or have bad health cus of the images.

i think maybe people do complain or
just think like me.
don't care.

thanks for the post.
the picture does, look good.

Mon said...

What a great post, thanks!

Unknown Mami said...

Fantastic post. I have that issue, but I haven't looked at it yet. I'm a magazine junky and I don't mind that there are thin women represented what I mind is that we are not all represented. We come in all shapes, sizes, colors and we should all be celebrated.

Anonymous said...

Men think eye contact is sexy, confidence is sexy, humor is sexy, healthy is sexy. Feeling sexy is sexy. As for the fashion-makeup-dieting-exercise-surgery industry that tells women that expensive details are so important, well, they are lying to you. We men don't care, we don't even notice. Surely you know that men are brain-dead. 99% of us are happy - and lucky - that you will talk to us at all. Worry less and smile more.

Anonymous said...

I have always hated being "told" via the images that women see all day who I should be, how I should dress and what my skin should look like. What is worse is that, at the end of the day, when I come home and feel bad about myself, then I must just have "low self esteem". How fair is that? Suddenly its MY fault that I dont feel good enough when all day long I am staving off images of perfection. Unattainable. Yet our society perpetuates this image of perfection, and it is SO incredibly damaging to young girls.
Thank you for this post. It is great to know that I am not alone in feeling this way!

karen said...

I needed that.

Kathleen said...

Fabulous, absolutely fabulous.

Melanie.Trini said...

I may get slapped across the face for this lol but I have never watched a single episode of My So Called Life.... but that video and your post today, made me feel all warm inside :)

Anonymous said...

I've always been a fan of plus-size models! There's a great site with many images of plus-size models here:

They're all gorgeous.

The site's forum also has thought-provoking discussions about body image and the media.

aaron p - travelling around the world generally... said...

on the other hand we are a nation of fatties. lets stop the BS (nothing about women specifically here folks... generally speaking) and rationalizing our fast-food diets and total lack of exercise (if the shoe fits... otherwise dont worry. if its a glandular disorder i apologize in advance... good luck.)