Let’s get naked!

20 Apr

Wait! before you start taking off all your clothes, let me explain.

No, really – keep your shirt on … Please?

Ok, I was reading today’s yahoo article about makeup and airbrushing celebrities into obvlivion, and I was so excited to see something other than the “Stars Without Makeup!” articles you see floating around. I know that those “shocking” articles are supposed to make us non-celebrities feel better about ourselves, but why? If the intention is to show that stars look normal when they’re not being slathered with concealer and photomanipulated, fine. Everyone should definitely be aware that celebrities have a team of people to make them look their best. But is that the real intention? So often it seems to be to join in on comments of how “ugly” so-and-so looks without makeup. Isn’t that just perpetuating the cycle of unrealistic body image issues? If we’re looking at those photos and saying “Gross! Man, she should have put on some makeup!” aren’t we giving permission to the stylists, makeup artists, photographers, and photo editors to make them into someone they’re not? We’re giving them permission to create a false image that promotes dangerously unrealistic expectations about the size, shape, and color we should be, the way we should age, and the way our clothing should fit. We’re giving them and ourselves permission to de-humanize those people, because, after all, that’s “what they signed up for, anyway.” We’re saying that we don’t want to see them as real human beings, and we’re also saying that we’re not good enough “as is,” either.

No makeup, no touch ups. Just a good hairstyle, natural lighting, and a good photo of a very pretty Taylor Swift.

When I was in 7th grade, I had been very sick for a few years. My skin was grey, my hair was dull, and I weighed about 67 pounds. (A healthy weight would have been anywhere from around 95-115 pounds.) People assumed I was anorexic, of course, and there were all kinds of rumors going around about my health problems already. I tried to accept my body as it was, but, truthfully, I hated the way I looked. I just wanted to be healthy, and to gain some weight. The next year, as I began to get better, a doctor advised that I eat ice cream every day to help put on some pounds quickly. Best prescription ever, right? Well, a couple of years later, as a Sophomore in high school, I weighed about 135 pounds. I had reached my goal of gaining weight, and had gone past it. So, even though I was celebrating being well, I still didn’t like the way I looked. Most of all, I was addicted to sweets (still am, really,) and I honestly didn’t feel any healthier than I did when I was underweight.

The thing is, even though I began taking my yoga practice seriously, and have grown to maintain a healthy weight and a fairly healthy body image, I still struggle with it. I wonder if I’m too thin more often than I wonder if I’m too heavy, which I know goes against the grain as far as body image issues go. When I’m able to exercise regularly, my metabolism kicks into overdrive and I can get down to about 110 pounds. Stress also causes me to lose weight, rather than gain it (against the grain again, I know – my girlfriends give me a hard time for it) so right now I’m at 114. I still have that fear that if I lose too much weight, even if it’s completely natural for me, I’ll look sickly.

You see, it goes both ways. Women are scrutinized for being too heavy, but they’re also scrutinized for being too thin. I’m proud of all of the “embrace your curves” movements going on out there, but too often those images of beautiful, curvy women are next to images of very thin women with a caption that says something to the effect of “I’d rather be curvy than look anorexic.” Granted, many of those pictures show a thin woman that looks obviously unhealthy, and I know it’s meant to comment on the pressure women are under to be dangerously thin, but is that actually the message that comes across? To me, it says that you love your body, but … what? “Ew, that skinny girl is gross?”

It also goes both ways with beauty. You’re either wearing too much or too little makeup. You’re curvy, but you need to wear Spanx to make your clothing fit “right.” You’re pretty, but your butt or boobs aren’t big enough, or they’re too big, so they get airbrushed accordingly. It’s all so confusing, vain, and, really, pretty twisted.

Now, I’m not getting down on photographers, here. I appreciate photography as an art form, and support the use of photo editing to perfect a photograph. Using editing software to create light continuity, which can create a more even skin tone, or to enhance the richness of color, which can make the color of the model’s eyes seem brighter, those are things that help the photographer create a professional looking image. What’s unneccessary is using airbrushing to whittle away or enhance body parts, erase the natural lines of a face, and to create an image that is, simply put, a lie.

So, embrace your body. You don’t have to walk around letting it all hang out, but definitely flaunt your confidence. If you like to wear makeup, do it! Just know that the makeup only enhances your already beautiful self. If you want to acheive a healthier body, go for it. Just don’t let comparisons to fantastical images and expectations dictate what healthy means to you. And please, please don’t put any other body under the same type of scrutiny in an attempt to lift yourself up, because you’re only tearing them down in the process.

Gentle hugs,

Chels

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One Response to “Let’s get naked!”

  1. Ginger April 20, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    I definitely have body image issues. After losing a ton of weight last year I was constantly accused of being anorexic, which I was not. I still don’t like my body, but I’ve learned to accept that I don’t like it. As long as I treat it as best I can that will do.
    I rarely wear makeup and I suppose I rarely have, except for small bits.
    Great post 🙂 everyone should be so down to earth and sensible!

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