Saturday, 25 July 2015

Body Confidence in the Media

***I would just like to state that I'm not trying to dissmiss trans* body disphoria or stating that genderqueer people do not experience body shaming and self shaming. I'm only using the terms men and women as the media targets this topic in such a manner and this piece is questioning the media (and I'm definitely as knowledgable as I would need to be to delve into these topics).***

Back in April a diet pill advertising using the phrase "Bikini Body" caused an outrage over the internet I can completely understand. Many people deemed it to be shaming women's figures or increasing the intense pressures those who identify as women face in keeping themselves "in shape" simply so that we wont be degraded by the world around us.

Now don't get me wrong, of course men are also surrounded with the images of gyms, protein shakes etc, but all of these images come from the patriarchal value of being the opposite of women (and in all honesty I'm using the word "opposite" as a euphemism for having more power over women, but I do understand that there is only so much of my feminist rampages my blog can take so I'll keep it at a minimum). Yet to deny that men do not suffer from body confidence as many statistics will tell me that men certainly do would be denying men's issues with body confidence, and if you are like the many on Facebook I have stupidly argued with (yes I know, I thought I was better than that too) then I suggest taking a read of this article from the guardian.  

My personal experience with body image started at a very young age when I began to read magazines with images of people that I simply couldn't live up to because they were over-airbrushed or were celebrities and models sucked into the abyss of body shaming. Personally, having a petite build as I did would have made me felt more celebrated than others may have but I also felt the worry of losing it. The media seemed to be warning me that if you become "out of proportion" or have "cellulite", in between the lines of the diets combined with weight-tracking "celebs" littered throughout magazines, that you aren't good enough to get into the glossy pages which my role models shone upon.

The invisible system continues into television, specifically children's TV. This being due to the ridiculous fact of Disney channel employing actors double the age of the character's they played. I was baffled of how perfect and grown up these "teenagers" seemed to be, being that the only teenagers I knew growing up dealt with acne and awkward stages. Yet the television seemed to tell no tale of broken voices or greasy skin. It was only on occasion you would find people like Miley Cyrus (who auditioned for Hannah Montana when she was 11) who were actually literally fresh-faced.

As with anything a person is surrounded by growing up with, you tend to become nurtured into a process. This particular process being body shaming and other different patterns of self hatred (as well it can feed into mental illness but as I am not a professional as you well know I'm not in a position to delve too much into that topic specifically).  You begin to notice people not accepting complements, not because they want to hear more about how great they are but simply because they have been told how they should not be any less than perfect in a world where it's impossible. More importantly, you begin to notice the system causing this cycle of self-hatred: The Media.

Nowadays, with my legs ridden with stretch marks and other imperfections, growing 2 sizes upwards from the stress of Scottish Highers, and summer bringing out the tan of old scars, this year has been my most difficult in terms of finding self-worth and I won't let myself be told once more that I'm being "overly emotional" when I struggle the most. I will try my best to promote body confidence to all and I hope you do too. Thank you for reading.