Friday, 15 January 2010

Why are you hitting yourself?

A couple o' months ago, I wrote a piece about unrealistic beauty ideals and what they do to women's self-esteem, called Hands Up If You Feel Ugly. I did it because the current prevailing definition of sexy is too thin, too young, too inoffensive, and quite frankly, too super-bloody-lame.

There's a uniformity to the look. It's unattainably thin, but it's also - somehow, inexplicably - got knockers. It's got clear, glowing skin, and a perfect, cute little button nose! And most "how do they do that?!", it's got no scars, no floppy bits of skin, and no bruises. It's like the most popular girl from your secondary school all over again. She's better looking and has a better life than you, and she's taunting you everywhere you look, and selling everything from chocolate to cars.

There's only a certain amount we can do if we want to be free of these images. You can stop buying magazines, and if you really wanted, you could stop watching telly. But for God's sake, what sort of a society would we be living in if we were only allowed to enjoy entertainment if we were willing to pay the price of feeling dreadful about ourselves?! Come on, people. Wouldn't it be better if the general rule were to populate the worlds of advertising and television with people who looked like real human beings? Real human beings are great. They come in all shapes and sizes. Lots of them are sexy and beautiful in unexpected ways, they have personality and vigour, and they don't look like they just stepped out of some bizarre heavily airbrushed nether-world.

Unattainable beauty ideals have shocking knock-on effects for your average woman in the street. Looking at them every day - which you could only not do if you wore a blindfold everywhere you went - makes us feel fat and ugly by comparison. We come to hate our own bodies, and we don't feel sexy. That, friends, puts us off getting naked in front of our husbands and lovers. Who in their right mind wants to live in a world like that? DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING!

In an interesting twist upon Big Corporations Doing Evil Things That Are No Good, [past examples include killing third world babies with formula milk, and shooting anyone who joins a trade union], Dove have set up the Susie Orbach-instigated campaign for real beauty. Part of this campaign involves using a wider range of body types and beauty ideals in their advertising, and education work in schools to improve body image in little girls. There's a short film on their website about how girls and women develop skewed ideas about beauty on their website here.

In other good news, the Liberal Democrats called last year for a ban on heavily airbrushed images, arguing that they are bad for women's mental health, and that they put pressure upon women to live up to unrealistic beauty ideals. [The libs would also make it easier for small venues to get a license for live music, and abolish Council Tax, so vote for them. DO IT!].

Wouldn't it be great to see loads of sexy girls and boys of all shapes and sizes in the public eye? For every Eva Longoria Parker, a Nigella Lawson; let's have more pictures of big girls eating cake, and more images of older women looking pleased with themselves. Let's have everybody feeling good about themselves, and a chocolate fountain on every corner. Let's make sexy older, let's make it more interesting, and best of all, let's make it bigger.

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