Body Image Series, Part 3: Media

Photo courtesy of Beauty Redefined

[Have you read the Introduction yet? Start here.]

April 2012 – I totally get this one. I do. Warped female images in the media totally mess with our minds. Trying to emulate them is incredibly unhealthy on so many levels. Blah, blah, blah … I know the theories behind what’s happening on those billboards and in those ad campaigns! And I also know of some great people fighting back. (If you’re not familiar with Beauty Redefined, check them out!) I understand all of this with my brain. But it’s still really hard not to fall into the trap. I still tend to compare myself to the mag covers, celebs, etc. It’s almost like I can’t help it. to feel it in my heart — in my core. I guess I just haven’t absorbed it all to the point that I “get” it. Does that make sense?

I’ve learned even more about the media ruse since I wrote that blurb nearly two years ago. In fact, I was able to see Lexie and Lindsay from Beauty Redefined present in person at The Togetherness Project last year, and WOW was it ever enlightening! I mean, I knew they airbrush models for magazine covers, but I didn’t realize how bad it was.

I saw a before/after shot of Faith Hill on a mag cover in which they shaved several inches off her shoulders, arms and waist, creating an image that literally could not physically exist. And this is Faith Hill, who is in amazing shape as it is. Lexie and Linsdsay call this “photoshopping ourselves out of reality.”

But what about TV? Surely that provides a clear picture of reality. NOT. The camera doesn’t add ten pounds anymore–actually it can remove weight. We now have technology called CGI that allows a technician to airbrush a person while they are moving around on camera. Brittany Spears, who has gained a few pounds in the past few years, used it for her latest music video. So while fans watch her slender figure dance around onscreen, how can they doubt it’s really her body? It’s not It’s all an illusion. (Want to see a dumbfounding demonstration? Click here or view the video clip below.)

Believe everything you see on the news? DON’T! Did you know news anchors and celebs have clauses in their contracts that disallow them from appearing on camera under certain circumstances–like poor lighting or sans makeup? Really? Even Katie Couric, who recently appeared ‘without makeup’ on camera to prove a point was likely required to have a filtered lens/lighting adjustments to help soften the blow to the audience. “Big names like Oprah and Tyra Banks almost never appear without soft lighting and a filtered lens,” says Lexie. “These days, it’s hard to look to media to ever see reality!”

It’s interesting. After I left the Beauty Redefined presentation, I felt so empowered. I thought now that I know the magician’s tricks, they won’t affect me. But I was wrong. I still find myself wishing ‘if only I looked like that …’ and feeling dumpy and inferior in the face of the images that constantly surround me. I’m working on it.

WHY? Why–if we know the images are fake and unhealthy–do we fall for it? Why do we still torture ourselves struggling toward the ‘ideal body’ portrayed in the media when we know it’s not humanly possible? It’s really sick.

Do you fall for it? Have any tricks up your sleeve to help you cope? Please share.

Other posts in the Body Image Series:

Intro: What am I supposed to look like?

Part 1 – Hair & makeup

Part 2 – Food

Part 4 – My reflection & photographs

Part 5 – Physical trauma & bouncing back

Part 6 – What is the healthy way? 

Conclusion: So … What am I supposed to look like?

4 thoughts on “Body Image Series, Part 3: Media

  1. This is great! Sad, but great to have this information. These images that we compare ourselves to are not even real and I would like to see more celebrities and models taking a stand against these alterations. I cant wait to show my daughter this video! THanks


  2. My dear friend! I just found your blog, and have been reading it and telling my husband about my sweet friend who I grew up with who has been through hell and back and is amazing. I read this post and had to comment and say hello, but also to add to what you said here. I am a photographer and have been editing and digital retouching for other photographers for the past several years. I have seen an alarming trend amongst women, that has gotten especially bad in the past year or so. Beautiful women, who are fit and put together and whom anyone would look at and admire tear themselves apart in print and want every little detail airbrushed and liquified. Women of all ages who cannot be happy until every detail and wrinkle is fixed, some to the point that they are no longer recognizable. And what breaks my heart is that many cannot stop at themselves. They are having their daughters thinned and airbrushed and tanned (I have been asked to tan a baby!). These are not the desperate housewife types that one might think of. They are women with values who try to teach their daughters modesty, and to see their inner beauty, and to love themselves…. and I wish they could see the real sermon that they are preaching to their daughters by their actions, and by the photograph that is now hanging in their home that their daughters walk by and look at every day. That photograph, not of a celebrity, but of themselves and their mothers that they will never be able to live up to and look like, no matter how hard they try.


  3. WOW, Cindy! First, awesome to reconnect. Love you babe. 😉 Second, thank you so much for sharing your amazing perspective. Thanks for speaking up. This is exactly what I’m talking about–to the max. You rock.


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