We are an image driven society – yes, we’ve made some improvements lately – women like Mindy Kaling, Melissa McCarthy and the Dove campaigns are beginning to send a more positive message about beauty, image and embracing our differences, but there is still this stigma about what beautiful is and unfortunately it hits the most vulnerable of us the hardest.
I’ll be 22 in a few weeks and I’m still trying to work through my self-esteem issues that are tied up in my looks – it’s something I’ve personally struggled with from a young age. Growing up, I would fixate on a certain girl’s looks and compare myself to her every time I would see my reflection in the mirror or in a photograph – sometimes it was a celebrity, but usually it was someone I knew.
Some days, I’m still caught up in this destructive trap of comparison and insecurity – it’s exhausting and frustrating.
In today’s increasingly social world, it’s easy to compare ourselves to our friends, bloggers and even strangers through our phones and computer screens – just scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed or even gleam “inspiration” from Pinterest.
You might start out fully confident, but the longer you spend just looking, the more time and fuel you give for your insecurites to rear their ugly heads – leaving you frustrated and back in that ugly insecure place where you can’t even go near a mirror, let alone take a selfie to post (or is that just me?!).
In my opinion, the only way to fix this is to shine a light on the power of image – to reveal it’s toxicity and influence in our minds and in society. To call it what it is and figure out how it impacts each one of us. Maybe for you it is your looks, but image goes beyond that – maybe it’s how fast you run, how well you write, the number of page visits on your blog, how well you cook or how much money you make. We all have our own point(s) of insecurity and unending comparison.
I love this TED Talk by Cameron Russell, a Victoria’s Secret and runway model for major brands like Chanel and Vogue, who takes a wry look at the modeling industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16-years-old. It’s worth the 10 minutes to watch, promise! 🙂
“They’re constructions of a group of professionals.”
I love that phrasing, because isn’t that true of image? It’s a construction – in maganizes, on Pinterest and on the blogs you read. Even the people you see every day on the street – that person probably spent quite some time in the morning creating an image they want to portray to the world.
Maybe as we get older, we realize what it means that beauty fades, but how do you explain that to the teenage girls who are so eager to find their way in the world and fit in? 53 percent of 13-year-old American girls are unhappy with their bodies, this grows to 78 percent by the time they are 17 (as cited in the video above).
So, for the sake of these young women, let’s grow this conversation of the power of image – both the good and the bad. Let’s challenge what it means to be beautiful and how it impacts whethere we’re happy or successful.
Do you acknowledge the power of image in your peceived successes and failures? How?
PS. Check out this opinion piece Cameron wrote for CNN to go with her TED Talk – she brings up some interesting points about the modeling world and the power of media.