Love the way you look
Women around the world are still having a hard time embracing their reflection in the mirror.
According to a survey done by Glamour Magazine this past year, 54 per cent of women are not happy with their body, and 80 per cent said that looking in the mirror makes them feel bad.
The same survey was taken in 1984, and the results from this survey were worse than the one conducted over 30 years ago.
“There is definitely a long way to go,” said Caren Shapiro, graduate of the The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute and a founding member of Endangered Bodies US.
Shapiro said that although there is much to be done, this issue is on the radar of women and men worldwide.
“I can see in that way it’s getting better, and I think there are reasons to feel very positive and optimistic,” she said.
However, Shapiro said it won’t be easy to stand up to the media and other large corporations, who she claimed are the major causes of negativity surrounding women and their bodies.
“Certainly there is a lot of healthy critique out there,” said Anna Friedman, the creative and marketing director of My Body Gallery (MBG), and MBG for Men.
Friedman is unsure how much this “healthy critique” will affect what is being produced by mainstream media, clothing companies, advertisers, and Hollywood.
According to her, there has been “some movement,” especially with recent pop songs and celebrities promoting curvier body figures, but they don’t completely solve the issue.
“A lot of pop culture is embracing curvy bodies and big butts but we can’t shame the skinny people,” she said.
One way we can solve this solution is by becoming body activists, Shapiro said.
Not just women, but everyone, should look at themselves and be empowered by having a body, and knowing what it feels like from the inside out, rather than as objects that are designed to be observed and must be approved of from our outward physical appearance.
“If they see their bodies from the inside, that’s a huge confidence boost,” said Jaimie Labbe, a first-year diagnostic medical sonography (DMS) student.
Breanna Townsend, also a first-year DMS student, said there should be more campaigns like Dove’s Campaign for Real Women.
“How they show all women in all different sizes, I think that’s really important to let people know that you’re still beautiful regardless [of what you look like],” she said.
Endangered Bodies is a worldwide organization that works to help the women and people in each different area based on site specific issues.
Currently, in New York, Shapiro said that they are working to address the body mass index (BMI) issue in schools.
BMI, according to the Dieticians of Canada website, is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height that classifies a person as underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese.
This number can be used by some to depict a person’s body type in a negative way.
Children in these New York schools, some even as young as kindergarten, are being tested and weighed publicly, and are receiving report cards that include their BMI.
“An issue that used to hit in the teens is now hitting younger and younger,” Shapiro said.
MGB was started by a photographer who wanted to set up a place where women could upload photos of themselves that were unedited and non-media mitigated.
Friedman said they often receive a lot of inspiring feedback from users of their site, who are typically between the ages of 18 and 40.
“We have users tell us that just the process of looking at pictures of women their weight looking happy and beautiful makes them feel better about themselves.”
She said that it also provides a “reality check,” for people with body dysmorphia (a mental issue where people believe that one’s body is defective when it is usually not) so that they can feel better about their bodies.
Shapiro said that another way women can become more confident in themselves is by being aware of the negative self-talk that people participate in.
“There are statistics that show that just a couple of minutes of all that negative self-talk women do creates a lot of lower self-esteems,” she said.
Friedman said that there have been some “good starts” in the past couple of years on female body image projects.
“It will be interesting to see if this continues,” she said.
Shapiro emphasized that it is important for people to remember that “we are complex, unique, beings who should not be judged by or reduced to our mere physicality.”
“We are more than just our bodies or our appearances.”