Jennifer L. Pozner, a leading feminist media critic, has a new book coming out this month entitled Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV. Its looming release has ignited, or should I say re-ignited the discussion on female body image due to the prominence in said book of Tyra Banks' infamous reality series America's Next Top Model.
I admit, I watch Tyra's crappy-ass modeling competition, and this is what I had to say about it. Yes, in some sense, she's evil incarnate when it comes to making girls feel critical of their bodies. I witness it every time I watch an episode. Maybe I shouldn't be watching at all but hey, I never said I was morally upright. But I digress.
Click here for an excellent article by Globe and Mail writer Leah McLaren on the above-mentioned book, the ever-shrinking size of the Hollywood actress, and how it affects us regular folk. Oh, and there's a picture of Keira Knighley lookin' all circus freak skinny, Lollipop Syndrome on full display.
I myself am not immune to the onslaught of negative media messaging basically drilling into my brain that skinny is better, that my self-worth is predicated on how thin I am, and shrinks or increases depending on the size of my body.
When I was buying a new, more "form fitting" wardrobe, I was aghast when I did the "sitting test" - which is basically sitting down in a new pair of pants to see how they feel, and to make sure my ass crack isn't hanging out. (I don't care how fashionable that may get, I ain't displayin' it, EVER.)
I was mortified that I had a bit of a muffin top when I sat down in these snugger pants. My abdomen kind of hung over the waist a bit, not a lot, but just enough for me to hate myself.
I shared this concern with my stepdaughter, who was my stylist on this particular shopping excursion. When I asked her about this, she didn't even blink. Her response? "Everyone has that. It's normal". This, from a wise 14-year-old.
So now, I proudly wear my snug clothes, much to my boyfriend's delight. And there's the zinger. I'm so utterly critical of myself despite the fact that I have a partner who tells me how beautiful I am every single day.
So all this messaging that we need to be ultra-thin to be OK and get the guy is total bullshit. Self-acceptance and self-esteem are not OUT THERE. It's up to us to cultivate it within ourselves. Beauty is whatever we perceive it to be.
I don't know if you've ever hung out with people who are completely obsessed with their bodies but they are the lamest people. They are not fun, spontaneous or remotely interesting, and usually suck in the sack because they're worried about messing their hair and shit.
On the other hand, being around people who like themselves, are fully engaged in life and aren't afraid to occasionally look like goofs is a completely different experience. They're warm, open, often funny and make everyone else feel good without even trying, and yes, they're usually great in bed.