Nowadays, when I sit down to write about body image I hear a cacophony of passionate and conflicted voices in my head. This is because I read articles on the topic nearly every day, and the current rhetoric is extremely polarized.
Some feel that how you look should hold absolutely no value, create neither advantages nor disadvantages, be utterly irrelevant. Although I find this viewpoint a bit extreme, I understand its roots. Right now, today, in Western culture women are constantly objectified through movies and TV, advertising, casual behaviors like catcalling, video games, music videos, the list goes on. Every article about a woman politician or CEO begins with a description of how she looks and what she’s wearing, a practice never used when writing about men in power. Women are taught that how we look is of tremendous importance. In fact, many of us may harbor the belief that conforming to the current beauty ideal isn’t just a goal, but a requirement for successful living. There is SO much emphasis on how we look that it can feel like the only way to turn the tide is to force a communal stripping-away of bodily, visual, style-related importance and value. Swing the pendulum as far to the other side as possible and trust that balance will come about in time.