Back in November I decided to go on a “diet.” I know, even the word is incredibly triggering for a lot of us. But have no fear! This diet has nothing to do with food! I decided to stop buying shitty weekly glossy mags. those that know me know that these were my weakness. i shudder to think of the hundreds (eek, thousands??) of dollars i have spent on them. turns out? all they do is reinforce the negative stereotypes of fat people, glorify a very certain body type, and make you feel like shit about yourself – all without you even realizing it until it’s almost too late.
So, here I am, three full months later (whoa, to the date, spooky!), having not purchased one. single. gossipy. magazine. i’m very proud of myself. What i want to share is this: on my flight back from the east coast yesterday, i bought a couple magazines, Food and Wine and the now quarterly People Style Watch. I love the former, because, hello, food and wine. And I dig the second because they have pictures of sparkly jewelry and shoes and handbags and fun makeup in them! harmless, right? NO.
As a fun little experiment, I’ve jotted down most of the body-shaming, body-policing statements in the advertisements and copy of the magazine. I say most because I’m sure I missed some – those little suckers hide EVERYwhere. So, for your viewing…annoyment? displeasure?
“small by design, gorgeous…even under stress, how to look great and shop smart!, discover instant smooth perfection, magically blurs pores and lines, velvety soft perfection, because you’re worth it, tame frizz, defend against humidity, 100% poreless skin, baby-smooth perfection, perfectly perky and impossibly fresh, control your hair, amp up your lashes, get the right size, work the feminine angle, smoother-looking skin, dedicated to perfection, perfect harmony requires infinite attention to every detail, edgy cool, sexy glam, perfect pairs, unflattering top-heavy effect, makes your outfit look oversize, make your legs look longer, get your perfect fit!, it’s time to turn heads, healthy makes it happen, guilt-free shopping, shrink your pores, lighten dark under-eye circles, get rid of blemishes overnight, fade fine lines, it’s the end of dull and flat, smooth skin, for skin that’s smooth and taut, curling! separating! eye brightening! lengthening! voluminizing!, perfectly straight hair, perfectly pulled-together!, get hair shiny, flatter almost everyone!, slim and refined, beautiful and effortless, it’s easy to give your complexion a fresh, radiant look, be glamorous.”
I kind of gave up looking really hard for these messages halfway through, so there’s a good chance there are tons more. The takeaways:
don’t be big, look great at all times, even while stressed. be smooth, perfect, and velvety soft. don’t have frizzy hair. don’t have pores. have the skin of an infant. be “fresh” even though they tell you it’s IMPOSSIBLE – try anyway!, don’t forget to be perfect!, also smooth!, things that are acceptable when large = eyelashes and lips only. sometimes hair. but it better be smooth and shiny. and straight. have long legs. and be perfect.
Ragen, over on Dances with Fat, did an absolutely wonderful (and heart-breakingly sad and depressing) experiment of cataloging all of the messages she got about her body in a 24 hour period. The final tally? 1,058 negative messages in one day telling her she’s too fat, unhealthy, a drain on the healthcare system, and on and on.
And we wonder why body image issues start so young?