Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Struggling with Body Image: Part 2

Starting off this second post with how I ended the last post. So, here's another picture of my legs (and my new tights, check it!). 

I love my legs. They aren't perfect. They are athletic when most of the actresses and models plastered in the media are sporting skinner versions. They are short. I am only 5'2.5", of course they're short. They are scarred from years in sports, from being clumsy, from Krav Maga. But I love them. I can dress them up, show them off or hide them away. And they are pretty damn good weapons.  -Ky

Society is obsessed with beauty. Beautiful landscapes, paintings, animals and, of course people. I’m not quite sure who decided what is and is not beautiful, or why it has changed over the last few decades to include such unrealistic, unattainable standards. But, this is what is thrust at us in everyday life. This is what our young children see.

There are some who go to extreme lengths to achieve perfected bodies that resemble what they see in the media. I'm not talking about women trying to be healthier versions of themselves. No. That is fine. But there are girls and women (and, yes men) who, in their quest to mimic what they see, do damage to themselves--body and soul.

Yo-Yo dieting. Pills. Anorexia. Bulimia. Breast augmentation. Liposuction. Abdominoplasty. Rhinoplasty. And every nip, tuck and lift that can be imagined. I'm not saying women shouldn't get cosmetic surgery. That's a woman's prerogative. I don't judge women who do. Why should I? For that matter, why should anyone? Does it make a woman less real? Less a woman? How far would that even go? Women can't wear make up? Heels? Clothes? (okay, men, you don't get to pipe in on that one.)

For that matter...what makes a "Real Woman"? 

By far, my favorite line from this is: 
I'm pretty sure we all know what makes a real woman a real woman. And it's not curves.
Cosmetic surgery is a perfectly acceptable option for anyone who chooses it. So is dieting, make up and heels. My complaint isn't that women do these things. 

My issue is:

  • why they do them and the image that some of them are trying to imitate. 
  • the 13 year old girl who is bulimic because she's trying to be Brittany Spears or whatever idol is current these days. 
  • my 5 year old who thinks she needs long, straight hair because that's what all the princesses have. 
  • the 10 year old that is afraid of being fat.
  • the men that think women should look like the women in magazines.

Here's the rub. The images that are thrown at us, children and adults, are not images of real people. Or, rather, they aren't real images of people. They are altered. The "imperfections" are taken out, covered up, painted over. In part one, I posted the following picture (left) of my legs. I am 5'2.5". Other than being a black and white picture, I did nothing to alter them. However, on the right, I simply made them longer. Longer = skinnier. While I love my legs, when I accidentally adjusted wrong and this (right) is what I got....I wistfully wanted the longer, skinnier legs.

Also, it pains me a little bit even to show the picture on the right. Only because now I assume you're all judging my real legs based on that other picture. However, it shows a drastic difference. And I really do still love my legs.

What does my mistake have to do with my point? The picture of Brittany Spears posted earlier? Altered. Check it out:

In fact, each of the pictures below have been altered (as have most, if not all, images published by the media today)

I think these women are all beautiful. But I think they are more beautiful in their natural, untouched pictures. By retouching, they aren't removing imperfections, they're removing what makes these women beautiful. And in doing so, in trying to create perfect people (which DO NOT exist), they are doing damage to girls, to women, and even to men. If perfect is what we seek, if perfect is what men expect us to be...we'll always be a disappointment. We can't walk around life airbrushed (okay, that's not true, since we have air brushed tans, but you know what I mean).

What they are doing to us, to our daughters, is distorting our expectations and our own body image. As I stated in my previous post, I had the belief that I was too heavy in my youth (see picture below).

This pic has been modified on the lower right-hand side, merely to remove my name.

How in the world did I believe (and would the BMI indicate) that I was overweight in this picture? I looked damn good. But because of what we see in the media, what we are and how we see ourselves, often don't match up.

Here is a drastic representation of what we are vs. what we see. (Body-Dysmorphic-Disorder.jpg)
This image is chilling because it is so accurate. Even skin and bones girls with anorexia or bulimia will continue to see themselves in skewed ways...essentially seeing what isn't there. In an effort to help change this, to make any impact I can, I have asked women I know to provide me with a picture of themselves and to tell me something they love about their body. These posts are not meant to be about me. They are about women. All women. 

The previous pictures have not been retouched, except to add in their quotes and names, and/or color adjustment due to lighting. Other than that the pictures appear as they were given to me. 

For some of these women, it was a struggle to find a picture, to pick something they loved about their body, to share it with the world (or the part of the world that will read my blog). Each of these women is very brave, and I am deeply grateful for their part in helping me with this post. I also recognize the courage it took for them to do so, and applaud their effort to think positively about their bodies...even if only a part of it.

There are several other ladies that also provided pictures for me, which will appear in the subsequent posts. In addition, I have posed some questions to men regarding how they view women's bodies, as I have noticed that what many men view as sexy is not the same as what we women perceive as sexy. I hope you'll return for these posts. Moreover, I hope you'll take an active role in helping to spread the word. Comment on what you've read or seen. Tell me your reaction. Pass the word along to a friend, mother, daughter, sister. Compliment women, don't tear them down. Reblog pictures on Tumblr of women who are beautiful, but not perfect. 
Take a stand for yourself, for women, for the next generation.


  1. You are one amazing women! To even talk about body image this openly would make some women cringe and run hiding. I applaud your openness,it makes you one sexy women!

  2. Kyla, thank you for doing this. I say this as a man who shies away from the media in general, it's wonderful to know that there are women who revolt against what's "expected".

    Keep saying it loud and proud! From a guy who struggles with his image daily.

  3. Hey hun, great job! I love the way you've shown how the pics are altered in magazines. We all know it's done, but people forget! Woop woop xxx

  4. @Jason Darrick Thanks Jason! I guess, after the responses I got when I tweeted positive comments about my body, I had to try to make an impact. I just hope I do. To someone. I also know that many, many men struggle. Being happy with who we are is tough when who we are (physically, at least) is always changing on us...especially as we get *gasp* older.

  5. Excellent post and so very important to remember. The issue of body image never seems to go away no matter how much you love certain aspects of your body!
    Thanks for including me in this post, Kyla!

  6. You just doing this series on your blog makes an impact. You're standing up for something that you believe in that affects men and women all around the world daily! I too applaud you for this!

    I've never struggled with being overweight. In fact, I've struggled with being UNDER-weight. I barely reach three-digit numbers as it is. People tell me I'm lucky but I don't feel so lucky when I'm constantly reminded of how "tiny I am" or that at 31 I still wear a size 1 or that people think it's OK to holler at me that I need to eat more. Truth is, that we're all damned no matter what we do!

    I'm not ashamed to say that I got braces at 20 yrs old to fix that snaggle-tooth that I'd try to hide or that I got a breast augmentation at 24 because I felt like a woman trapped in a child's body. I did it for ME and no one else! I will never regret it because it increased my confidence tenfold.

    My body is far from what I wish it was but I've come a long way from that 13-yr-old girl who used to live in a shell. Now I'm happy to say that I'm happy to be me and when someone makes a hurtful comment, I have the confidence to stand up for myself!

    Thanks again for this post!

  7. Oh I would have died if i'd missed this post, thanks Ang! Kyla, well done! *applause* :)

  8. @Angela Addams You are so right! And I've been shocked as I look at my beautiful friends to find that they have body issues. Really? But to me they are so beautiful! I don't get it. I mean, I do only because I've looked so much into this, but I don't see what they see. If that makes sense.

    Thanks for stopping by and for sharing with us. You are fabulous!



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