This photo in the Daily Mail is accompanied by the tragic story of twins who have suffered from anorexia for twenty years. It’s a disturbing story that touches on sibling rivalry, parental enabling, and the failure of all mechanisms to heal the victims of our culture’s obsession with beauty.
If you read the story, you’ll notice images on the right-hand side of the page, mostly celebrities chosen by the Daily Mail to ridicule for their weight gain, plastic surgery or cankles. The message is clear: There is no escape from the search for physical perfection. No escape and no winning either.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a photography exhibit called Beauty and Culture that examines the many ways that images work to influence our concept of beauty. The exhibit featured a short documentary that was truly devastating. Five year old beauty queens, cancer survivors, ancient women still trying to look young, and a history of evolving thinness in fashion models…it leaves you sickened by the shit we go through to measure up to a stupid restrictive ideal of beauty.
The documentary points out that only 2 percent of women are built like fashion models. Why do these models have so much power over us?!
You know the “It Gets Better” campaign for gays? We also need a campaign for women that says:YOU LOOK FINE! Maybe if we were reminded 100 times a day that we are okay as we are, we could forget about the size of our butts.
When we left the exhibit, my friend and I looked for somewhere to have coffee. We found a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, where they display calorie counts with their pastries. Naturally, I freaked out and ordered a reduced-calorie muffin, because no matter what I know intellectually, deep down in my psyche I’m an unlovable fat pig.
I would like to thank Vogue, Glamour, the fashion industry and most of all my dad, who loved to drive around shouting “Look at the fat ass on that one!” I can relate to those poor emaciated twins, even though I’m a normal size. Accepting yourself can be a lifelong project.