[ View the story " Reshaping beauty" on Storify] Reshaping beauty How do beauty standards impact self-image?
Storified by The Stream · Mon, Oct 22 2012 11:19:01
between the size of the average US woman and super models continues to grow, women who aren't the typical 'thin ideal' are increasingly
the public eye. In early October, US news anchor Jennifer Livingston responded to a viewer's critique of her weight. By the end of October, this video of Livingston's message received over 10 million views.
CBS WKBT News Anchor's On-Air Response to Viewer Calling Her Fat (Oct. 2nd, 2012)estephano80
In September, after receiving similar weight criticism from the media, pop star Lady Gaga admitted to struggling with eating disorders and body image issues. Gaga shared the image below with the caption "bulimia and anorexia since I was 15". She called on her fans around the world to start a "Body Revolution" by embracing their physical flaws.
Social media campaigns like Lady Gaga's follow similar efforts (by
entities) to put the media narrative back in the hands of everyday women. Below is a talk from Jean Kilbourne, director of the "Killing Us Softly" documentary series.
Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising's Image of Women [Trailer] - Available on DVDChallengingMedia
Kilbourne argues that there is a link between cultural obsession with thinness and advertising images of women, which many feel represent an artificial ideal. In what's been coined as the
, Ukrainian women are undergoing plastic surgery to achieve this ideal and look like human dolls and Japanese anime characters.
of the documentary and social campaign Miss Representation tweets her thoughts:
The extent of image retouching and enhancement has been studied and
, and has even led
to pursue legislation that would ban highly altered ads. Below, professional digital retoucher Roy A. Cui speaks about how his career might cause harm to viewers:
I Don't Know What Happens NextRoyACui
Advertisements also perpetuate unrealistic expectations for male viewers. In the clip below, video blogger
analyses the impact of leading men's magazines on their audiences.
Men & the Media: Body Imagemfabello
According to a 2011 global
commissioned by personal hygiene company Dove, only four per cent of teenage girls considered themselves "beautiful", while 72 per cent said that they "felt tremendous pressure to be beautiful". The data below from the US National Eating Disorders Association shows that a large majority of US children are under similar pressure:
National Eating Disorders AssociationAJstream
National Eating Disorders AssociationAJstream
A search for the terms "body image" and "weight loss" on social media sites yielded much higher results for the latter phrase.
This kind of dissatisfaction with body image has prompted "body positive" campaigns such as
Fat Talk Free Week
based on a program developed by Dr. Carolyn Becker of Trinity University.
Below, Becker speaks at a TED Talks event in 2010.
TEDxSanAntonio Carolyn Becker Combating Body Dissatisfaction The Destructive Impacttedxtalks
A university sorority in the United States sponsors annual Fat Talk Free Week campaigns, and the movement has spread
Tri Delta- Fat Talk Free Week 2011trideltaeo
Body positive messages like those from Fat Talk Free Week are meant to counter what some call "fat shaming" or the stigmatising of being overweight. Below, video blogger Meghan Tonjes says the word "fat" is not hurtful on its own, but ideas associated with being overweight are.
I AM FAT! (Veda 22)meghantonjes
The picture below of another body positive blogger,
, received over 21,820 shares and 489,170 likes when it was
by the popular Facebook page Humans of New York.
WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE.The Body Love Blog
In an attempt to put body size in a global context, the BBC
on online body fat calculator which compares users with the average body masses of their country and the world. The site also features
from international users. The tool also tells users how heavy the world would be if everyone on the planet matched the user's weight, which has lead some to
the site an example of fat-shaming.
At the same time people are reacting against the 'thin ideal' and the promotion of pro-eating disorder culture online. Social media sites like Tumblr and Pinterest have
to protect users from content labeled as pro-anorexia and pro-bulimia, sometimes known by the moniker "thinspiration". In July, US teenager Julia Bluhm started an online Change.org
to pressure Seventeen Magazine to stop extreme alterations of models. The petition received more than 86,439 signatures and Seventeen agreed to stop altering the size and shape of their models.
Netizens also started a Change.org
against Barneys New York, a luxury department store, after the fashion retailer released images of a digitally altered Minnie Mouse.
Some brands, such as Dove, The Body Shop and Levi's have attempted to incorporate body-positive messages into their advertising.
Increasingly, though, individuals are taking to social media to speak for themselves.
Lady Gaga's Body Revolution: Little Monsters SpeakMTV
Content from Body RevolutionSets let you organize your photos on Flickr. Explore the 11 photos in this set.