By Serena Shapero, Health Educator
If you’re insecure about your looks, you’re not alone. It turns out everyone is. Just ask actress Melissa McCarthy. “Pretty much everyone I know, no matter what size, is trying some system,” she says. Even when someone gets to looking like she should be so proud of herself, instead she’s like, ‘I could be another three pounds less; I could be a little taller and have bigger lips.’ Where does it end?”
For actress Kate Winslet, the answer is that it ends before it begins. In her most recent contract with Lancome, she reportedly added a “no photo shopping” clause. Singer, actress and model, Zendaya, also made her point about keeping it real when she recently pulled photo shopped images of herself off newsstands. On Instagram, she explained, “Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19 year old hips and torso quite manipulated. These are the things that make women self-conscious, which create unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have. Anyone who knows who I am knows I stand for honest and pure self-love. So I took it upon myself to release the real pic and I love it.”
We live in a culture that is addicted to physical appearance and has often mistaken glamour for beauty. Because commercial media has saturated us with unrealistic images of what they think beauty is, this ideal has become more increasingly unattainable. In today’s media, images are constantly being re-touched, photo shopped, and distorted to reflect this unattainable beauty. But this isn’t just happening in the media—anyone can add filters to their Instagram photos and download hundreds of apps to distort their appearance in extreme or subtle ways. Because of this, we end up feeling more insecure than ever about how we look naturally. We then spend absurd amounts of money on things we don’t need to try to attain this perfection.
Fortunately there are strategies to help you avoid falling victim to those dangerous media messages. Here are a few suggestions from Greatist.com:
- Avoid negative self-talk. Try to focus on the positive when you look in the mirror.
- Be kind to yourself. Try to offer yourself at least one compliment per day.
- Seek out social support. Find friends who also believe in accentuating the positive.
Learning to look at beauty separately from glamour is something that I believe is necessary for everyone to do. The dictionary defines beauty as: “A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight.” The dictionary defines glamour as: “The attractive or exciting quality that makes certain people or things seem appealing or special.” The difference between the definitions of beauty and glamour is in the word, “special”.
We think that in order to be beautiful, we need to go over and above what anyone else has done and be considered special. The truth is, some of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed, like an exquisite landscape, has never needed to be seen as special. The trees and meadows just exist with poise and grace exactly as they are. They have always been beautiful without any help. Just like them, we should know that we are worthy of beauty and belonging without ever trying.
The highly acclaimed documentary “The Illusionists” turns the mirror on media and explores how the body has become “the finest consumer object.” JCS, together with the Center for Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt, Towson University, Goucher College and ifIknew, is sponsoring a series of local screenings of “The Illusionists” followed by Q&A sessions with filmmaker, Elena Rossini, November 16-20. A special screening and program geared for parents, teens and young adults will be held Tuesday November 17th, 6:30 pm at Krieger Schechter Day School. The program is free, but pre-registration is required.
To register, or for more information about other screening dates and locations of “The Illusionists, visit theillusionists.org/baltimoretour.
By Serena Shapero, Health Educator, JCS Prevention Education
JCS provides a broad range of services that meet the diverse, multi-dimensional needs of individuals and families throughout Central Maryland. We offer guidance and support when you are seeking solutions for emotional well-being, aging and caregiving, parenting, job seeking, employers and businesses, achieving financial stability, living with special needs, and preventing risky behaviors. To learn more, please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.