The perfect computer-generated portrayal of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions is not only unethical, but anatomically impossible. Studies show that 90 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance in some way. That is how influential the media today is.
False advertising and unattainable beauty is discouraging for the woman who feels she cannot measure up. In the media we see are mostly illusions of beauty—digitally edited images that are not true to real life. Over three-quarters of the covers of women’s magazines include at least one message about how to change a woman’s bodily appearance—by diet, exercise or cosmetic surgery. Because of the media, women think that they always need to make an adjustment and that their bodies are objects to be perfected. Research shows that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression, lowered self-esteem, and the development of unhealthy eating habits in women and girls. Women who are insecure about their bodies are more likely to buy beauty products, new clothes, and diet aids. With youth and thinness promoted as the “essential” criterion for beauty, this difficult to achieve ideal is profiting the cosmetic and diet product industries with money. Although we are seeing plus-size models in the beauty industry more and more, advertisers believe that thin models sell products.
I personally have struggled with low self-esteem, including feeling insecure about my body, for most of my life. Trying not to compare myself to others or to not care what people think, is something I continue to overcome. Television and movies reinforce the importance of a thin body as a measure of a woman’s worth. But that is not what it is all about. A woman’s worth should not be determined from the outside, but from the character that lies within. Ladies, you don’t have to be a size zero to be beautiful. Be yourself. Find what makes you unique and flaunt it. Embrace the curves, the curls, and the calories. No more comparing yourself to others. No more internalizing stereotypes and judging yourself by the world’s standards. You are beautiful.
Here is a video presentation I put together of me covering the song "I Am His Daughter," by Nicole Sheehan. Pictures of young women from www.lds.org; Artwork by Greg Olsen