Standing in the slow-moving grocery line, I began scanning the magazine rack looking to pick one up and leaf through it while I wait. The selection was mostly tabloid and fashion magazines but they all had a common denominator, either applauding or shaming someone’s body. The articles that were also displayed on the cover used words such as: body, weight, pounds, diet, lost, gained, fat and sexy. Regular celebrities who are usually publically insulted on these covers are Jessica Simpson, Kim Kardashian and Mariah Carey. Kim seems to be the go-to-girl these days when tabloids are looking to criticize and judge someone. The latest Kim body-bashing cover, Alone and Binge Eating, tends to make one wonder about our own eating habits. I’m surprised there isn’t a big pile of junk foods under these racks from people reconsidering their food choices as we start internalizing these negative messages and images. We begin to compare ourselves to these celebrities and wonder what awful things people are saying about us.
One magazine cover that got a lot of attention was ESPN’s Body Issue 2014 cover. Texas Ranger, Prince Fielder, was featured in the nude as many other athletes who posed nude for this cover. See clip of his ESPN cover shoot. The difference from the other athletes was that Fielder’s body wasn’t chiseled and “athletic-looking. It brought forward a barrage of verbal assaults on social media. This response certainly demonstrates how comfortable we have become with body-shaming. The good news was that many women had come to Fielder’s defense stating that he looked strong, manly, and confident and the shot was beautifully done. Even Tamron from the Today Show thought Fielder oozed the “confidence of a Greek God.” Who doesn’t find genuine confidence attractive? Let’s give ESPN a round of applause for demonstrating that athletes come in all shapes and sizes.
I think Huffington Post said it best in their article, What The Insane Fat-Shaming of Kim Kardashian Means for All of Us, “These headlines affect us all, even when we tell ourselves we aren’t paying attention, that we write them off as trash. They leak into the cultural ether and affect how women see themselves and other women and much time and thought and energy women put into fixing bodies that aren’t broken.” We are indeed assaulted daily by these messages through media outlets and countering these unrealistic expectations put upon us to look a certain way is very difficult. We become self-conscious. We pick out our flaws and focus on where improvements can be made. And generally we point to our eating habits. We believe the solution is in eating less when we should be striving for loving and nurturing ourselves more. Breaking the habit of body-bashing is difficult in a society that is not body positive. But in order to counter the invasion of these messages we need to say to ourselves, “they are trying to control my thoughts in order to influence me to buy their magazines.” Plain and simple that is their goal, to sell magazines! They try to engage us through this trash-talking as we have normalized body-bashing either ourselves or others.
Knowing that I wouldn’t appreciate someone firing off a front cover of me with a nasty title like, Treena: Alone and Face-Deep in a Poutine, I decided to go with the Gardening magazine. Be aware, be kind and believe you are beautiful even if our culture seems to be promoting otherwise!