Today as I was getting my Facebook fix, I came across a site speaking out against the media's portrayal of women. Photoshopped images, completely flawless skin, perfect bodies... Images women strive for, but can never possibly attain. I always look at these sites, watch the clips, and reevaluate where I am.
I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa at the age of fifteen. It was the fall of 1997. Eating disorders were just beginning to get recognition as an actual illness that needed to be addressed. People often saw an eating disorder as a "right of passage," a sickness of vanity, a "diet" gone wrong. My illness actually did not form from seeing images of perfection, or wanting to be thin. I stopped eating as self-defense, to gain the upperhand where I could. And I recovered. For the most part. But like any addictive disorder - you never lose it completely.
Now that I'm no longer on the defensive, my struggle with self-image is sometimes fueled by the beauty I see portrayed and praised. My struggle is internal, but I know how much of an impact media wields over people. I've heard so many women complain about their bodies, I've seen young girls suck in their stomachs, listened to people discussing unhealthy attempts to lose weight. And I know - this is how it can start for someone. And once you develop an eating disorder; that's it. It stays beside you like an unwanted acquaintance. You learn to subdue it, you learn to pretend it's not there. So, it breaks my heart to know that something as simple as an advertisement, a retouched photo, can send someone down a similar path as mine. And I wish there was something more beautiful, more meaningful to say; but all there is that beauty can never be found in a mirror, in an image - it is what we share with others. Beauty is not a physical representation. Beauty is what we do with what we are given.
You can't airbrush a personality. You can't retouch humanity. You can't Photoshop grace. The media gives us illusions of physical perfection, that is all. They sell us an "image." I suppose what I'm trying to get at is this - the less we focus on physical perfection, the more beauty we will see. Advertising and media aren't likely to change, I think we just need to change the way in which they are viewed. The more unrealistic and superficial we know them to be, the less we will strive to attain such a definition of "beauty."