I have my good days and I have my bad days. On a good day, I will wake up in the morning and fit into my "cute" jeans without having to do the ever seductive wiggle and heave dance just to close the zipper, I will "do" my hair and makeup, and I will look in the mirror and feel pretty confident about my appearance. On a bad day, I will feel too bloated to even try to put on my "cute" jeans and instead opt for my trusty fat jeans, I will hide my hair under a baseball cap and try to disappear under layers of clothes because my confidence is shot to hell. As a woman, I am entitled to these days, and rational or not we all have our "fat" days and our "skinny" days.
However, even on a skinny day I can open up ANY women's magazine on a shelf and throw myself a little pity party. I want her hair, I want her stomach, I want her arms, I want her purse, I want those jeans, I want my ass to fit into those jeans the way hers does...the list goes on and on. Without even stopping to evaluate all that I have in my life to be THANKFUL for, I immediately focus on what I don't have and what I wish I had. I allow myself to fall prey to images crafted especially for women like me, images that target ALL women to aspire, to want, to feel that they need something they don't have. We are made aware everyday, that there are items, lifestyles, and bodies that are better then ours, and only when you have them, will you be a better person. Like most women, I buy into the images just enough to feel bad about what I don't have. I don't have a Lexus, I have a crappy green Honda that is colorfully decorated with the results of parking in public areas, I don't have her body, in fact even though I am a sort-of size 4 I feel too fat to even think of putting on a bathing suit, the list get longer with every turn of a page or flip of a channel.
This morning was a bad day, I rolled out of bed late and my building's water had been shut off meaning I couldn't have a shower. I felt so fat that I put on my ratty jeans, a large t-shirt, my trusty cap and ran out the door to work. I work in Los Angeles, the city born to make others want, and need what they don't have. In this town, what you drive, what you do and who you know, matter much more then if you committed a felony. The advertising agency that I work in is a creative shop that daily turns out the ads you see everyday which create the needs and wants that you never knew you even had.
Because one of our assistants was out of the office I got to sit in a casting session for our newest client, my sole purpose was to take notes. I was not to offer an opinion, nor speak to anyone. I watched as my boss took out books of pictures containing image after image of some of the most beautiful people that I had ever seen in my life. They were unreal, bronzed, hard bodied, confident looking women with gorgeous hair and makeup. I actually felt less adequate sitting next to the photos of these women, God help me if I ever had to BE in a room with them. Next to each model was her height, weight, and measurements. Not a woman under 5 ft 10" or over 115 pounds.
To my horror the art directors didn't see their task as one of simply picking the most beautiful specimen to represent the image their product should convey, instead they picked apart every single aspect of these statuesque women. Their job was to find the flaws of the seemingly flawless. I had no idea that the women I desperately wished I could slightly resemble were in actuality, not perfect. In fact, in the advertising world these women were "too fat", "too skinny", "not sexy", their "arms are too bony", her "face has too many freckles", her "nose has a funny shape to it", "too soft", and these are just the comments I can say out loud! After they selected about 4 women who resembled what they were looking for, they continued to discuss the model's "face value". My boss wanted to airbrush out certain parts of the models because they didn't have the right "look".
Can you imagine, we are living in a world where even the VERY few women who are considered to be "perfect", aren't perfect enough? That truly frightens me. We are forcing this false image down the throats of America in our product placements and our magazines, and convincing them that they should aspire to look like a woman who by medical standards is technically emaciated? Every minute "flaw" is airbrushed into oblivion and we are led to believe that this is reality, that people really do look like that. On the occasion that a magazine decides to print an article demanding that "real" women be seen and their larger sizes be celebrated, the pictures accompanying the story are dimly lit, VERY airbrushed, and the woman are posed so that they don't highlight their flaws. Juxtaposed with these images are the ads woven into the magazine which feature sickly thin models dressed in designer couture who are splayed across the page in provocative poses to make you desire whatever it is they are peddling. We can not escape. We can not see past the images to view the dangers that they are inspiring. Young girls starve themselves, abuse their bodies, steal money, run up credit debt, all in the name of these falsely created needs and wants to perpetuate a lifestyle that not even the women in the ad can live up to.
It occurred to me that I had a choice, like it or not these images DO exist, and will keep on being printed in the name of profits, but I can choose to accept these images as reality or reject them as useless creations geared to mess with my perceptions. While some women will continue to kill themselves to achieve a look that not even a professional model can achieve without help and digital enhancement, I can be grateful that I have so much in my life worth smiling about. I have a wonderful family, really great friends who support me, I have an apartment I can afford, I have a job that pays my bills, I have a car that runs, the list goes on and on. These are the things I should focus on, not the fabricated needs and desires created by corporations. Don't get me wrong, I will still have my share of bad days, and I will still have a few wants that I could probably do without, but in the end it really comes down to MY conscious choice to be thankful for all that I DO have or to be resentful about the silly things I don't.