October 16, 2009

Blame it on the Photoshop

I’ve seen this posted by several people on FaceBook:

There are so many campaigns going around these days about the evils of skinny models and Photoshop happy photo editors dominating the fashion market. I think it’s all ridiculous. Some people think I’m just taking the side of businesses in this debate, but I think that that is the only reasonable side to take in this argument, and here’s why…

1. People are over thinking modeling.

You aren’t supposed to look at a model and say, “That person is so beautiful! I want to look just like them.” You are supposed to say, “Would you look at that skirt? I’d totally buy that!” They are mannequins that can actively walk and pose. That is their job. While there are strict dietary guidelines, these women and men have bodies that naturally have unique proportions suitable for showing off clothing. Most people will never be as slender or as tall as some of these people, but that’s life.

2. Magazines and ads should be allowed to alter photos all they want.

Altering images of human form to emphasize the features that the culture finds most desirable is not new. Many ancient sculptures and cave paintings, from societies that struggled to find food and fight famine, portray obese gods and goddesses. Different societies around the world developed styles that emphasized proportions that were certainly impossible or at least very uncommon. Remember the Mayans and the ancient Egyptians? While photography and computer editing have only recently become available, how are the alterations made any different from those portrayed by ancient artists?

3. Size 8 is plus size.

People put up a rumpus about how size 6 and 8 are normal and those women shouldn’t be called plus size models. Well, logic tells us that 6 > 2 (The average size of a female model runs between 0 and 4). So in that sense, 6 is a bigger (or plus) size. It is certainly still a healthy size for some women, so it’s not that they are saying the women are too fat…just that they do not meet the average size of female models or a good percentage of women who are also in the 00-4 range.

Now that I’m done counter complaining, I’ll offer what I think a good solution would be. Learning. That’s it. I don’t think it matters how many images of skinny or larger women the media crams into a girl’s head, they need to learn what they should look like. Girls should be encouraged to eat healthy and taught how to exercise effectively. They should learn about a variety of healthy body types and be encouraged to figure out how much they are meant to weigh (and by that I mean really…none of this BMI business). Girls should learn at a young age how to take care of themselves. Many people think the answer to this problem is to simply accept yourself as you are. While I agree that we should learn to love the bodies we were given, why should we continue to accept the abuse this allows for? We should love ourselves, but continue to strive for our own best form. Overeating and sedentary lifestyles are just as big of problems (if not bigger) in the United States as eating disorders. We shouldn’t try to persuade the people suffering from any of these problems to replace one for the other. People with eating disorders should learn healthy ways to deal with their stress and manage their weight just as overweight people should.

In the end we cannot force people to take care of their bodies or live in a healthy way (no matter what Congress thinks). It’s up to them, but shouldn’t they at least have the tools to understand how to care for themselves? Magazines and runway models aren’t the problem. The problems are parents that don’t get involved and schools that waste valuable time in health classes explaining for the twentieth time how dangerous smoking is or how birth control can be used. Everyone already knows those things, so can we please move on to something that will actually help? 

Photos from here, here and here.


ramsam said...

I am strangely fascinated by skinny models, part of the reason why I still buy fashion mgazines and drool over cool photo shoots.....but I do get sad when I see kids in school point out others shubbiness and elementary age girls saying they are fat. That kind of disturbs me....so who wins?

On the other side, I swear, running has become my favorite past time. After a year the weight is starting to come off, and it feels great. Even when I run I feel better, although ia m sure I look the same as the day before. State of mind is a powerful thing!

caitlin said...

6>2 hahahahahaha.

B. Marie said...

So basically you're saying that it's ok to live in a world that is based on reality but made into something completely false and fictional?

Hillary said...

@ B. Marie: Of course (when it comes to photo editing). That is what advertisements and art generally are, fantastic versions of reality.
When it comes to runway models, it obviously is reality.

B. Marie said...

But don't you think it's dangerous for children especially girls to grow up in a world where skinny is praised and fat is shunned? I walk down the straight and yes, there are hundreds and hundres of girls with thin bodies, but that is not the reality of the way the body is. There are pleanty of other women out there with different body types who are not praised because they do not fit into the 'perfect' category. But I do agree with you that schools and parents in some cases are to blame for not teaching their children more about this subject and about what is real and what is not.

Hillary said...

No, I do not. Being fat is unhealthy (no matter how “natural”). Children are fed ideas about self-esteem that teach them that fat is okay, despite endless health risks. I honestly believe that “fat” body types should not be praised.
Most people who are thin have fast metabolisms and body types that aren’t prone to gaining muscle mass. What matters is that they are healthy.
There are many body types, that is true, but they can’t all be in the spotlight at once, and I don’t believe we should force the media to let in body types that don’t bring in money. If it bothers you, don’t watch TV, don’t buy magazines and don’t go to the movies. You shouldn't have to base your body image off of what you see in the media.
Also, it’s not that children should necessarily be taught that the images are not real, they need to learn how to work out, eat healthy and exhibit a little bit of self control.

B. Marie said...

I agree, being fat is unhealthy and it definitely should not be praised. And kids should not be brought up to think or believe that being overweight is a good thing, because it's not. But then again, it is not healthy to be starving yourself or eating next to nothing either. Just because you are skinny, doesn't mean you are healthy. I do however agree that 'womanly' type bodies such as a size 14 (these are Australian sizes mind you, I don't know the equivalent for American sizes) should not be frowned upon by the media. Women are supposed to have curves, they are supposed to be full. I guess the vulnerability is mainly to blame in this kind of a situation. That and the power of the advesary. He delights in anything that will bring down your self esteem.

Ah well, we can't all have the same opinions :) either way, I really enjoy reading your blog. It's refreshing to find something humorous yet wholesome to read on the internet.

Hillary said...

Well, I’ve seen too many girls and boys made fun of and called anorexic when they aren’t. That hurts them (and is annoying), yet it is never brought up anywhere. Some bodies are not built for curves. You also have to remember that the media is fond of larger breasts and many of these girls don’t have any breasts at all, not through any fault of their own.
I think if a person can try and be healthy at that size (which according to one chart is a size 12 in the US) then that is up to them. One thing to keep in mind with women’s sizes is that height plays a factor as well. While many models are tall, pop and movie stars are often very short, which generally puts them at very small sizes (Australian size 4 maybe?). God wants us to be healthy, and seeing as I may be becoming somewhat more of a feminist, I would rather make myself happy and healthy than try to have curves just to fit the standards of what is attractive to guys.

But I’m glad you found my blog. I normally post lighter hearted stuff, but once in a while I post school papers and more serious things.