Why Body Image Isn’t Just a Feminist Issue

“Girls and young women have clearly identified these [body] issues as the source of their hesitance to take on leadership roles.”
-Claire Mysko

Original Article by Melanie Klein of MindBodyGreen

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Change the Narrative about “Bikini Season”!

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“Truth be told, we are all victims of the media. No one is safe.”

Original Huffington Post article by Jessica Lovejoy below:

Body Image Issues Are Not Just For Women

Posted: 03/26/2014 2:03 pm EDT Updated: 03/26/2014 2:59 pm EDT

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MAN LOOKING IN MIRROR
 

Body image issues are prevalent within our perfection-focused society. We are told to conform to impossible beauty standards, to fit a certain body shape and that if we don’t look a certain way, we aren’t beautiful. We have diet fads and crazes thrust upon us to try and encourage us to get that “perfect” figure that everybody seems to want and we are picked apart by the media and told to rebuild ourselves in their perfect ideal. But women are not the only ones to suffer.

Men are also given the ‘perfection’ blueprint. They should be strong, muscular, show no emotion. They are told constantly to “Man Up” and to “Be a Man.” The size of a man’s penis is constantly bought up in many a conversation between girlfriends over lunch, much like his performance in the bedroom.

Some of you ladies reading this may scoff and roll your eyes, thinking “Welcome to my life!” Yes, us women have had to deal with this sort of scrutiny for much of their lives, but we shouldn’t be under the assumption that men don’t know the feeling. Truth be told, we are all victims of the media. No one is safe.

Only within the last few years have fuller-figured women been in the media. We have our own plus-size models and clothing stores that cater from size 14 upward, and even chain stores carry plus-size clothing. The fuller-figured gentleman does not have this luxury. You will almost never see a heavyset lumberjack-esque man gracing the cover of a clothing catalogue. Or a fashion magazine. Or an in-store poster.

You will, however, see taut, toned, oiled and well-endowed men gracing the glossy pages of almost every magazine you reach for, every chain clothing store and everywhere else. It is an unrealistic expectation for men. And a lot women love the way these male models look, so that adds fuel to the fire in the male mind. Like women, they feel they have to fit this extreme standard in order to be found attractive by the opposite sex.

We, as females, have been dealt a cruel hand by way of the media. Our bodies truly are under scrutiny. The tell us that celebrities with curves are too fat, but when those same celebrities decide to lose weight, they are too thin and the media suggests that they are suffering from an eating disorder.

Now, we don’t keep quiet anymore. We kick and scream and tell the media we want more diversity of size, sex and gender, and sometimes they listen. But men, like they’ve always been taught, remain silent. They don’t complain and they go with it. The ‘strong, silent type’ is how men are conditioned.

When a chubby school boy is bullied by his peers about his weight, barely an eyelid is batted. When he is called a slob by his workmates, he is expected to let it roll right off his back. In today’s society, the ideal man should be tall, rugged, handsome, muscular, be well-endowed, be an excellent lover, be strong, emotionless.

A picture has been circulating of a young man holding up a handwritten sign reading “It’s just as hard to be Ken as it is to be Barbie.” I posted this particular picture on my personal blog to very mixed reviews. One particular blogger reblogged the picture and commented “Cry harder white boy.

This is not the way things like this should be handled. We should be understanding of those men who do suffer from body image issues and eating disorders, we shouldn’t be scolding them because we’ve had to experience this cruelty for longer. As a whole, we all need to understand the damages the media can cause. If we can do that, we will be well on our way to a more body positive society for all.

Undue pressure is put on men by women, their friends, other men and their parents, especially their fathers. “Be a Man” is something that is easily said, but carries a lot of weight. Slamming a man with this phrase is telling him that he has to bury his emotions and his feelings, to take life on the chin and to never show weakness. If he cries, he is weak; if he is kind, he’s a wimp. This simple phrase has the ability to be crippling. Telling the young man this will give him extreme feelings of inadequacy. It insinuates that he’s not man enough, he’s not strong enough.

Nowadays, hitting the gym is in. Bulking and gaining is the next big thing. Being big and muscular is where it’s at. Is it any wonder why the thin gentlemen and the chubby gentlemen avoid the gym? At least us women have ladies-only gyms that promote friendship and acceptance to all. Hitting the gym is a big deal for anyone who hasn’t ever been, or doesn’t go frequently, and that is made harder by the snickers and glares received from more muscular men over by the weights.

The truth is women are not the only ones who can suffer from poor self-image. And to assume that men don’t is absurd.

As a society, we’re all being force-fed images of this race of “perfect” people. We’re told how to look good in certain outfits and how to dress for our shape; we’re encouraged to lose the baby weight because Kim Kardashian did so in record time; and we’re urged to get fit by Summer.

Whatever your gender, we are not safe from low self-esteem and poor body image caused by much of our society and our media.

Don’t buy into it.

Jessica Lovejoy is a Positive Body Image Advocate and writer.
Follow her page Positive Body Image Inspiration on Facebook:
www.facebook.com/positivebodyimage89.

You can also follow her blogs:
www.positivebodyimageinspiration.tumblr.com

www.bodypositivityforthemodernman.tumblr.com

Follow Jessica Lovejoy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Posibodyinspo

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Both Girls and Boys Subject to Excessive (and Limiting) Sexualization

Both Girls and Boys Subject to Excessive (and Limiting) Sexualization

Barbie has been getting a lot of flack for unrealistic body image and extreme sexualization, but the toy industry does not leave the male prototype unscathed.

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Lame Excuse for Barbie’s Warped Body Proportions by Mattell Designer

Original Huffington Post article by Elizabeth Claydon below:

Barbie’s designer denies creating unrealistic body ideals for children

We have heard much about how the unrealistic and disproportionate Barbie may be providing young girls with an unrealistic ideal, but yesterday, Feb. 3, was the first time we heard from Barbie’s creator regarding this controversy. Kim Culmone, Mattel’s vice-president of design for Barbie, was the lead designer for Barbie, but has heretofore stayed mum as her creation takes the fall for damaging young girls’ body image.

However, perhaps due to recent projects highlighting the divergence of Barbie from the average woman (see Nickolay Lamm’s depiction of Barbie as an average woman), Culmone finally spoke up. In Barbie’s defense, Culmone stated that the doll was never meant to be realistic. Instead, Barbie’s infamous distorted proportions were created for the purpose of outfitting the doll.

“She was designed for girls to easily dress and undress,” Culmone told Fast Company’s Co.Design. “If you’re going to take a fabric that’s made for us, and turn a seam for a cuff or on the body, her body has to be able to accommodate how the clothes will fit her.”

Sadly, this comment is very reminiscent to the explanation of why models need to be so thin: to primarily act as hangers for the garments and to save on fabric costs. Is it worse that Barbie was designed to make it easier to dress her without thought to trying to create a positive role model for children to play with and look up to?

Culmone’s argument also does not hold much water, as the American Girl dolls manage to be easily dressed (perhaps even more so than Barbie) without causing ‘seam’ or ‘cuff’ problems and are not dramatically disproportionate. Instead, they represent a child and serve as a contrast to Barbie, with the focus being on the dolls’ histories and accomplishments rather than their beauty.

We may still not know whether Barbie does cause body dissatisfaction or engenders unrealistic ideals for young girls (although there is some evidence suggesting Barbie leads to lower self-esteem and a greater desire to be thin in younger girls), the question remains whether it is necessary to have a doll that reinforces society’s thin ideal. If we have alternatives, such as the American Girl dolls, why do feel the need to resort to a doll with unrealistic and frankly, bizarre, proportions?

Nickolay Lamm agreed when he created his more proportionate Barbie doll: “If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well. Furthermore, a realistically proportioned Barbie actually looks pretty good.”

So, perhaps, maybe it is time to start making toys using a conscious effort to present positive role models – for girls and boys – instead of focusing on finding excuses for defending the status quo. Don’t our children deserve that?

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Exposure to Barbie May Influence … all sorts of things!

A new study may suggest the immediate influence on young girls’ perception of what they are socially capable of doing as women, from exposure to Barbie.

Original Article from Elizabeth Claydon of The Examiner below:

Barbie: Destroying not only body image, but also dreams

On March 31, The Guardian published concerning new information about how the iconic doll may be disrupting more than body image. Barbie has been cropping up in more controversies recently, from the Mattel designer’s defense of the disproportionate doll, to a call for the Girl Scouts to end their relationship with the doll, and even in the creation of a more realistic Barbie doll to provide a healthier image to children. However, these controversies have focused solely on body image and not on some other negative consequences that arise from reinforcing stereotyped gender roles in children.

The results come from a survey of girls, aged 4-7, exposed either to Barbie or Mrs. Potato Head prior to answering two questions concerning their future. Specifically, the girls were given pictures of 11 different occupations, which were coded on the basis of the Bureau of Labor Statistics as: one neutral (restaurant server), five female-dominated (teacher, nurse, flight attendant, librarian, and day care worker), and five male-dominated jobs (construction worker, firefighter, pilot, doctor, and police officer). None of the pictures included humans but contained a setting and props to indicate the career and a prompt. For example, a picture of a fire station with the caption: “This is a fire station, where a firefighter works.”

The girls were then asked, based on the pictures, “Could you do this job when you grow up?” and then “Could a boy do this job when he grows up?” The results showed that after playing for just five minutes with Barbie as compared to Mrs. Potato head, girls were more likely to report that boys had more possibilities for future careers than themselves. Girls also reported being able to do a higher number of female-dominated occupations than male-dominated occupations, inferring internalization of gender roles.

These girls also had exposure to Barbie at home, with almost 60% of the children owning at least one doll, more often than not a fashion Barbie, rather than career-oriented Barbies (surprisingly enough, there are some, as long as the career outfits can be made fashionable enough). But owning a Barbie did not change the relationship between immediate exposure to the doll and the girls’ perceptions of their career options compared with males. To reflect the different types of Barbie dolls, this study utilized both a typical fashion Barbie as well as a Barbie dressed as a doctor, but the girls’ perceptions of their future career opportunities were limited regardless of which Barbie they were exposed to.

The idea behind this study is that early exposure to sexualized images may convey on overly sexualized emphasis of the adult world, leading young girls to internalize the message that their value is based on their sexual appeal rather than their brains or talents. Since this is one of the first studies to look at the effect of fashion dolls on girls’ perceptions of their future occupations, it marks an interesting new concern that will have to be explored further. In the meantime, there is a heightened need to find toys that serve as positive body image ideals and positive role models for our children.

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12 Richest People in the Fashion Industry (Are Mainly Old White Men)

In Forbes’ billionaire’s list, 10 out of 12 richest people in the fashion industry are men (mainly…old white men).

Original article below:

The Top 12 Richest People In The Fashion Industry

By on October 19, 2011
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Fashion Industry

Based off the  Forbes’ latest billionaires list (which lists the net worths of the world’s richest as of March 2011) here are the 12 wealthiest people in fashion.

From big box clothes retailers to high-end designers, fashion has made some people very, very wealthy.

The Top 12 Richest People In The Fashion Industry

#1 Bernard Arnault

#1 Bernard Arnault

Net worth: $41 billionForbes billionaires rank: 4

Nationality: French

Background: Arnault, the chairman of luxury conglomerate LVMH, whose stable of brands includes fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton. He also owns stakes in Bulgari, Hermes, and Carrefour.

In addition to being the fourth richest man in the world, he’s also the richest man in Europe.

 

#2 Amancio Ortega

#2 Amancio Ortega

Net worth: $31 billion
Forbes billionaires rank: 7

Nationality: Spain

Background: Ortega is the former chairman of Indetix, the firm that owns fashion retailers including Zara, Massimo Dutti and Stradivarius, and has 5,000 stores in 77 countries.

 

#3 Christy Walton

#3 Christy Walton

Net worth: $26.5 billion

Forbes billionaires rank: 10

Nationality: U.S.

Background: Walton is the heir to the Wal-Mart empire, and while the discount big box retailer is not exclusively in the fashion business, it makes a big enough chunk of change selling apparel that we included her in this list.

Apparel made up around 10% of Wal-Mart’s overall sales in 2010, or about $25.8 billion.

 

#4 Stefan Persson

#4 Stefan Persson

Net worth:$24.5Forbes billionaires rank: 13

Nationality: Swedish

Background: Persson is the chairman of cheap-chic retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), which has 2,200 stores worldwide and is known for collaborating with A-list designers from Karl Lagerfeld to Jimmy Choo.

 

#5 Liliane Bettencourt

#5 Liliane Bettencourt

Net worth:$23.5 billionForbes billionaires rank: 15

Nationality: French

Background: Fashion and beauty are inextricably intertwined, and L’Oreal heir Liliane Bettencourt owes her largess to the global cosmetics company founded by her father.

 

#6 Phil Knight

#6 Phil Knight

Net worth: $12.7 billion
Forbes billionaires rank: 60

Nationality: U.S.

Background: Knight, the co-founder of Nike, started by selling running sneakers out of his car and eventually expanded into a footwear and athletic wear empire that did $19 billion in sales last year.

 

#7 Francois Pinault

#7 Francois Pinault

Net worth:$11.5 billion

Forbes billionaires list: 67

Nationality: French

Background: Pinault, a high school dropout, is the majority shareholder of luxury goods conglomerate PPR. Holdings include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Puma.

He’s also the owner of auction house Christie’s, and husband of actress Salma Hayek.

 

#8 Leonardo Del Vecchio

#8 Leonardo Del Vecchio

Net worth: $11 billion
Forbes billionaires rank: 71

Nationality: Italian

Background: Del Vecchio is the founder of Luxottica, the world’s largest manufacturer of sunglasses and prescription eyeglasses, as well as the world’s biggest eyewear retailer.

His company owns over 6,000 retail stores, including Sunglass Hut and LensCrafters.


#9 Tadashi Yanai

#9 Tadashi Yanai

Net worth: $7.6 billion
Forbes billionaires rank: 122

Nationality: Japanese

Background: Yanai is the founder and president of Fast Retailing, which counts the hugely popular apparel retailer Uniqlo among its subsidiaries.


#10 Philip and Cristina Green

#10 Philip and Cristina Green

Net worth: $7.2 billion
Forbes billionaires rank: 132

Nationality: U.K.

Background: The Greens own Topshop, the popular British retail chain that made a huge splash when it landed in New York in 2009.

Phil’s not only interested in apparel–he’s currently in the process of launching a reality show with Simon Cowell.


#11 Galen Weston

#11 Galen Weston

Net worth: $7.1 billion
Forbes billionaires rank: 133

Nationality: Canadian

Background: Weston’s retail empire isn’t strictly apparel, but it includes department store powerhouses such as Holt Renfrew in Canada, Brown Thomas in Ireland and Selfridges in the U.K.

He’s also reportedly interested in buying Barneys New York.


#12 Giorgio Armani

#12 Giorgio Armani

Net worth: $7 billion
Forbes billionaires rank: 136

Nationality: Italian

Background: The designer is also a shrewd businessman. He unveiled a megastore on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue in 2009 and lent his aesthetic (and name) to a chain of hotels, including one that recently opened in Dubai.

 

Source: Forbes.com
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