Sorry, Dove, “Real” Models Don’t Improve Anything

24 Mar

For years, society has blamed the media and the fashion industry”s obsession with stick-thin models for the downward spiral self-esteem in women.  Airbrushed pictures of celebrities in magazines and size-0 models walking the runaway have long been a scapegoat for the struggling female self-worth.  In an generation where eating disorders seem rampant, someone must take the blame.  But are we targeting the right cause or just picking a scapegoat?

In 2004, Dove launched the worldwide  Campaign for Real Beauty in an effort to promote body acceptance among women.  The campaign featured women of various shapes, sizes and races as a way to present beauty among all women.  Furthermore, the campaign featured ads and billboards with the models where viewers could vote “fat” or “fab”.  Sadly, the results were not in Dove’s favor.  Despite the efforts of Dove and their ad agency, Ogilvy, Bigger Models Make Women Feel Bad About Themselves Too:

Dove’s Real Beauty ad campaigns are heralded as groundbreaking forays into being a bit more realistic about how women look. Glamour‘s new habit of featuring regular-sized broads after the publicity deluge the first time they did it, too, is widely praised. But here’s the thing: According to a new study by the University of Arizona, ads featuring bigger models don’t actually make most women feel very good about themselves. Apparently, pretty much everything makes women feel like crap about how they look.

According to the researchers, larger women feel better about themselves when ads don’t include any models at all, average-sized ladies actually have lower self-esteem after looking at ads with plus-sized models rather than uber-skinny ones, and thin folk prefer the traditional tiny models. The study did, however, come up with one icky way bigger models can be used to actually influence product sales: ” … if a normal-size woman sees moderately heavy images in ads for weight-loss products, she might feel overweight and be more inclined to buy a diet plan or gym membership.” This is basically saying ads could use plus-sized models to make women feel bad enough about themselves that they want to spend more money on gym memberships and diet products. [The Cut]

I sent this article to a group of friends to gauge their reactions.  The ladies I questioned had varying heights, weights, ages, and body types, but the message across the board seems clear: larger models are still unrealistic, and do nothing to make self-image any better.

Kate:

Looking at “plus-sized” women who are supposed to be the same size/weight as me… but with zero flaws?  Yeah that doesn’t exactly make me feel like high-fiving my heavyweight sister.

Sarah:

Frankly I agree. I mean, who looks at Emmy or whoever the vogue plus size model is right now and says, “If I were that big, I would look that awesome.”? Nobody. I’m not that big and I still have cellulite, bulges, and stretch marks. It makes me feel worse to look at someone 50 pounds heavier than me who has amazing, glowing skin and perfect curves. Give me a break! What does she do, go commando so the weight is evenly distributed?

And pretty much everyone commented on the ridiculousness of how in today’s modeling world, a size 8/10/12 is considered plus sized.  Ashlee even went as far as to bring up:

There are articles about how today’s size 10 is what used to be a 14 or something. And yeah, the plus sized models must have a ridiculous amount of photoshopping going on… there’s no possible way they don’t have cellulite, stretch marks, sagging skin, etc.

Ashlee is absolutely correct.  During my fact-checking, I came across this chart that displays how sizes have changed over the past fifty years:

[Source]

In a world of vanity sizing, social media, Photoshop, airbrush makeup, plastic surgery, eating disorders, and unrealistic expectations, its not shocking that many women struggle with their own self-image.  Instead of focusing on what makes us feel bad about ourselves, we need to focus on what makes us feel good about ourselves.

So here we go, 10 things that make me feel good about myself:

  1. My husband – He’s my biggest fan
  2. High heels – they make my calves look great
  3. A great pair of jeans
  4. Running a half-marathon
  5. My hair – I think I have pretty great hair
  6. The lifestyle changes I’ve made over the past two years.  Being healthier makes me feel better about myself
  7. My new, clearer skin – Thank you Doxycycline & Differin!
  8. Push ups – I can do ’em.  Need I say more?
  9. My smile – Thanks for the orthodontics, Mom & Dad!
  10. My dogs – Seriously?  They make me feel so loved 🙂

There’s my 10 things.  Now gimme yours!

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11 Responses to “Sorry, Dove, “Real” Models Don’t Improve Anything”

  1. Kelly March 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I love posts like these. It makes me stop and think of 10 positive things.
    I need that sometimes!

    1. My husband. He’s awesome and supportive (but he also brings me home ice cream and cookies periodically. Balance, people! Balance!)
    2. My big blue eyes
    3. Express work pants. I’m leggy, and they make my legs look like they go on FOREVAH
    4. Heavy lifting/my strength
    5. My good food choices
    6. My family — always supportive!
    7. Core strength — I have abs of steel. You just can’t “see” them. haha
    8. Balance abilities….i have remarkable balance. I claim it’s from riding horses bareback/bridle-less as a kid
    9. My cooking skillz
    10. My dog….she makes everything better!

    • mrsdevonk March 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm #

      Great list, Kelly! I grew up riding too 🙂 My hubby says I have thighs of steel from it!

  2. Laughter-Loving Stacy March 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    1) my boyfriend
    2) yoga
    3) running a half marathon 🙂 🙂
    4) eating a banana
    5) dancing & singing randomly
    6) writing
    7) music
    8) my favorite items of clothing
    9) fresh air
    10) love & gratitude

  3. Laughter-Loving Stacy March 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    HAHAHA i love how my 8 turned into sunglasses man! 😀

    • mrsdevonk March 24, 2010 at 2:07 pm #

      So in the email I got with this comment, I was like “WTF is she talking about?” I see it now! HAHA! Great list BTW!

  4. TAMEKA March 24, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    I love this! So much that I made my own blog post with my 10 things! ❤

    http://becauseperfectionisboring.blogspot.com/2010/03/ten-things.html

  5. lasik March 26, 2010 at 5:06 am #

    Have you ever considered adding video to your blog posts to keep the visitors more entertained? I recently read through the entire article and it was good…thanks for the share

  6. Angie March 28, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    What a great list. I love this post.

  7. Misty Stingley April 11, 2010 at 5:47 am #

    Superb post, numerous amusing points. I recall 3 of days ago, I have saw a similar article.

  8. Nicky Hartman April 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    I was pleased to read this article, keep up the good work.

  9. Hipolito M. Wiseman April 18, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    nice article thx

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