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Tag Archive for Truth in Advertising

Defying Cultural Standards of Beauty

By Volunteer

I am 5’9.

I am skinny.

I have a dark skin.

I used to hate all these features of my body, and every once in a while, I still struggle with them. You’re probably thinking, “Isn’t that what all females want…to be tall and really skinny, like models?” I hear it all the time. “You’re sooo lucky…I wish I had your body type.” Thing is, I never felt lucky.

In America, women tend to want to have tall slender bodies, because the media represents these features as the “norm.” This is not the case in my culture. In the African culture, my body features are considered “unattractive,” “manly” and even “ugly.” In my culture, men want women who are 5 feet tall, with light skin and curvaceous bodies. I have always felt self-conscious about my body because I am the EXACT opposite of what men in my culture consider to be beautiful.

Instead of being 5 feet tall, I feel like a giant at almost 6 feet tall. Instead of having big breasts, child bearing hips and a voluptuous rear end, I feel ugly because my breasts are barely an A cup and my torso is thin. I have felt ugly for a large portion of my life because of my body type. I do not represent the ideal of feminine beauty in my culture, which is something I know American women struggle with daily as well.

Instead of having light skin, I am dark, which is not appreciated by African or American standards of beauty. I’ve always felt like the dark skin is automatically seen as unattractive to men. As a matter of fact, many media communicators have been accused of “whitewashing” the skin of African American people by making their pictures lighter, and there is an abundance of visual evidence to prove this.

thVC1GKBEBI have judged myself against the African standard of beauty for most of my life. However, as I approach adulthood, I am beginning to see that my features are unique. I am my own person on the inside and I love who I am. It is only fitting that I learn to accept the person I am on the outside. I am beginning to see beauty standards at face value. I do not need to fit into African or American beauty standards, nor do I want to. Unfortunately, beauty standards are driven into our heads from a young age, so it took me a long six years to realize that I am beautiful just the way I am.

I’ve had my ups and downs, but I made it to a place where I am happy with myself inside and out. I always used to look down on myself, despite what people told me. Every time I’d leave my house I would hear people telling me that I was stunning, beautiful, model like, and that I look like a goddess. I couldn’t hear them because of my own negative thoughts. Comments like these made me wonder why I was having all of these negative thoughts in the first place – and then it clicked. I was wishing so hard to be something that was preferred by my culture. I decided then that I would not let any cultural norm dictate what was beautiful and what was not.

It does not matter at all what people think of you – all that matters is what you think of yourself and I know now that I am beautiful inside and out despite the preference of any culture. To anyone out there struggling with your body image, just know that you are beautiful no matter what anyone says. Speak to yourself in ways that affirm your beauty.

I am a stunning 5’9!

I have a strong slender body!

I have smooth and silky dark skin!

And I love myself!

 

“White” Wedding

By Agustina Suarez

From a young age girls dream of the “perfect” wedding, and the “perfect” dress. Some women dream of the day when we will get engaged, and then we dream of the excitement of planning for this special day that only comes once in a lifetime. Thank goodness we can rely on the 50 billion dollars a year wedding industry and abundance of media promotions that will help us to create our special day, right? WRONG!

Brides Magazine published by Condé Nast is filled with “perfect” images of women who almost look unreal. Brides Magazine targets both women in general who fantasize over their potential wedding and women who are in the process of planning their weddings. They advertise wedding dresses, accessories, and other miscellaneous wedding items for women to wear on their special day.

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The purpose of this magazine is to sell wedding related products to all types of women. Unfortunately, Brides Magazine idea of all types of women only includes white, skinny females. This magazine is telling its audience that curvy women and/or women of color do not fit a beauty standard of one impossibly thin white female image after another.

Brides Magazine has failed in reaching all of the women in this country with gorgeous bodies that vary in size. A study conducted by The Today Show in 2016 revealed that the average American woman is actually a size 16. In avoiding to market to women above a size two, this magazine has alienated a majority of the women in this country who dream of their perfect wedding day, despite their size.

Not only that, but this magazine has also failed to reach the beautiful women of color who live in this country. After sifting through the pages of Brides Magazine I was shocked to find that there were no 2016_bridescom-Runway-April-j-mendel-wedding-dresses-spring-2017-Large-j-mendel-wedding-dresses-spring-2017-009Latina, Black, or Asian women featured among its pages. This is a misrepresentation of what our society actually looks like. Brides Magazine has created an unrealistic world in which all women are thin and white and all women portray unattainable beauty standards. This magazine goes far beyond bridal beauty. It turns beauty into an impossibility.

In the film Bride Wars (2009), Liv Lerner, played by actress Kate Hudson says, “You don’t alter Vera Wang to fit you. You alter yourself to fit Vera.” This line mirrors the unhealthy “whitewashing,” thin ideal and beauty standards portrayed in Brides Magazine. It is ideas like this that tell women they are not good enough to get married the way they are. Ideas like this encourage women to abandon their true selves and embrace impossible weight and beauty ideals.

The fact of the matter remains though that all women are different shapes, different sizes, and different skin tones and we are all beautiful. We do not need to alter our appearances for a wedding to be perfect. A wedding is supposed to be an event that celebrates the love which two people have created. Love existed before the wedding industry and it will exist after we come together to resist some of its harmful ideas and images.

Questions To Consider

  1. What can Brides Magazine do to appeal to more women?
  1. How can women resist beauty norms put in place by the wedding industry?

VANTAGE Student Experience – A Blog Series

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Background Information –

Between October – December, 2016 The Emily Program Foundation worked with two student groups enrolled in an advanced professional studies program called VANTAGE through Minnetonka Public Schools. This partnership aimed to create a meaningful and professional learning opportunity for the students in VANTAGE as they completed quality, useable products for the Foundation. The Digital Journalism group created an educational video on eating disorders for teens while the Health Sciences team created a research report with a data analysis on teen’s experiences with their own body image, media influences and knowledge of eating disorders. This team also shared their learning experiences through a three-series blog posting, please see their reflections on what they learned through this process.

We have come to part three in the VANTAGE Student’s three-part blog series. You have now learned about the students and their research experience. Now is the time where you get to learn what they found in their research.

Data Analysis

Now that our data collection was complete it was time to analyze the results and compile our findings into our final presentation. From our research, we discovered that the majority of teenagers with eating disorders are female. However, this was not surprising to us due to our knowledge prior to this project. 9.1% of teenagers surveyed were unsure if they had an eating disorder. This is interesting because this suggests that they were not educated on the matter. Overall this statistic makes it seem as though teenagers need to have more education in school so that they can know if they suffer from an eating disorder. When asked if appearance was important to them, almost 50% of the participants chose a 4 on a scale of 1-5 (5 being very important); this tells us that body image is what these teenagers are constantly thinking about. Social media isn’t helping this cause; we found that 62.2% agreed that social media influences the way they think about themselves. From that, the ones who spend 3 or more hours on social media per day compare themselves to models, who do not portray the average American body. When asked which social media outlet was the most influential, Instagram and Snapchat won by a longshot. This tells us that there needs to be specific posts on these two applications that show positivity about body image. Social media should be a motivating and positive atmosphere that doesn’t make teenagers question their body image.

Love the Real You: A Movement for Change

Submitted by Emily Adrian

You don’t often see the media preaching natural beauty, but there is a movement that is joining in the fight to change just that. Aerie, a lingerie label, launched a campaign back in 2014 called #AerieReal, encouraging everyone to love the “real you.” This campaign at its start, made a promise, a promise of unretouched ad campaigns. Most recently, a reinforcement of this campaign has been launched further embracing “body positivity” by gathering diverse women of all different shapes and sizes to “share their spark.”

They speak their mission on their website, expressing that,

 

#AerieReal is “not all about flaws or curves. It’s what’s beneath the skin. #AerieReal is about loving the real you. #AerieReal is about empowerment

In 2016, Aerie invited 40 girls to share their spark in hopes to empower others to do the same. These women were made up of Aerie designers, models, bloggers and social fans. Some of these women chosen had never been in a photo-shoot before but proudly posed showing comfortability in their skin. It was a positive example for the movement in encouraging and continuing the push for change.

So often we open our social media pages, or look at magazines, even online shopping websites that tell us how our bodies should look. It puts thoughts into young women’s heads that the way they are isn’t good enough. That because they aren’t like those in the magazines, or online that they aren’t pretty enough, or “healthy” enough. In reality, these images endorsed by ads, social media and magazines aren’t our reality at all. Even men feel the pressures of appearance from our media, and they too suffer. Most of what we see is edited, it’s made to look a certain way, to be an “ideal” that doesn’t exist in itself. It gives a false reality and in doing so can cause an unhealthy impact on physical and mental health.

#AerieReal is refreshing. It is a glimmer of hope in the right direction. It is a promise to show real bodies, real beauty, and real confidence through real women. It is empowering to those who never felt they would be accepted because they were different from what was on the media. This is a movement to redefine beautiful, to redefine confidence, and to understand that HEALTHY looks DIFFERENT on everyone.

Our media is everywhere. Imagine what a world it would be if it wasn’t impacted by an “ideal” but instead was accepting of all the beautiful bodies that walk this wonderful earth. Isn’t that a world you would rather live in? Embrace your beauty, embrace what healthy looks like on you. Be comfortable in your own skin, and own it. As stated in the video, “together we will learn to love our real selves and change the world.”

 

What Is With That New Weight Loss Thing?

As you might have heard, the FDA approved a new weight loss device called the AspireAssist. This brings up a multitude of complex issues that are not black at white and cannot be oversimplified. Today, we highlight one person’s response to the device while next week we will consider another perspective to the issue.

Written by Volunteer Elise Byron.

I have been guilty of joking with friends that “calories don’t count on Friday” or that “these chips actually have negative calories!” I have also wished I could go back and erase caloric intake after eating one-too-many pieces of birthday cake. Had I ever purged to complete these post-birthday party wishes, I can only imagine how easily I could have been lead down a road to disordered eating. The FDA recently approved an ‘obesity treatment’ called AspireAssist in which, a tube is inserted into the stomach to drain up to 30% of caloric consumption into the toilet following each meal. The announcement recommends that the device be used three times a day for optimal success by individuals with a body mass index (BMI) of 35-55. The patients must be monitored closely by their doctor to shorten the tube as they continue to lose weight, as well as to the replace a portion of the drain tube which automatically stops working after 115 cycles of use.

Justifying their endorsement, the press announcement cites that, when compared with a control group who received only nutrition and exercise counseling, individuals who used AspireAssist in addition to such therapy lost 8.5% more of their body weight. However, the use of such an invasive technique comes at a cost: numerous side effects like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea can occur, not to mention a long list of complications, including death, that can occur from the surgical placement of the gastric tube and the abdominal opening for the port valve. While the financial burden of such frequent trips to the doctor mandated by the use of AspireAssist is not mentioned in the article, even more disturbing is the lack of consideration of its potential psychological effects. This is an article put forth by an organization which connotes a sure sense of health and safety; it implies to anyone overweight that the removal of food after it has been consumed will effectively make one more ‘heathy.’ AspireAssist, in other words, is a form of purging, and its message rings clear everyone, regardless of their size.

We are psychologically driven to trust authorities. We are also psychologically driven to justify our actions and twist facts to match up with what we want the truth to be. To someone who has already begun to convince themselves that their purging behavior is normal, healthy, or necessary, an article like this only confirms that belief: “Vomiting at home is way less invasive version of this, so it must be okay.” It disturbs me that this logic is correct; it is the premise – that AspireAssist is a beneficial and healthy option for someone struggling with their weight – which is flawed. The whole idea behind this tube is that overweight individuals who are trying to lose weight are universally eating 30% more calories than needed. Isn’t that assumption much too sweeping a generalization? Are they at all concerned about malnourishment?

These questions remain unaddressed by this press announcement, and I think it’s because lines get blurred when it comes to obesity and eating disorders. In the media and mainstream health education, we learn about all the health risks of obesity, and we see pictures of overweight people eating super-sized McDonald’s meals. We also learn about individuals who struggle with eating disorders, and see a portrayal of a stick-thin woman looking in the mirror at her distorted perception of herself as ‘fat.’ I think these polarized images implicate the assumption that the overly-thin simply need to eat, and the overweight simply need to not. This is an inaccurate portrayal of both health and disordered eating which leads us to a faulty prognosis of how these individuals should proceed, rooted in a sense that we know what is best for them. By so doing, we are robbed from a compassion for individuals struggling with healthy eating, as well as the humility to recognize the situation is far from black-and-white. None would recommend a purge of 30% of caloric consumption to an individual with a normal or underweight BMI, out of concern for their health and well-being. Obesity and eating disorders need to be understood and addressed head-on. Ironically, it seems the efforts to lower the prevalence of obesity and eating disorders are at odds with each other, when in reality, both fight for the same cause. Body positivity and fitness are not enemies and I think it’s time we prioritize the health of all shapes and sizes. We need to stop separating empowerment into opposing camps of “#RealWomenHaveCurves” and “#MyWeightLossJourney.” Real women are all shapes and sizes, and they are all equally deserving of our respect. Healthy looks different for everyone, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t involve a painful weight loss tube protruding from my abdomen.