A sex ed blog with more
What was once perceived to be beautiful has shifted. The first supermodel came into being in the form of Twiggy in 1966. Before then, models were glamourous and curvaceous. With shrinking hemlines and more unisex patterns and designs, the boyish gamine figure became popular and worked for the fashion designers for their models. Because of changing technologies, we now have this career known as modeling, and the idea of a supermodel. For whatever reason, despite changing fashions since then, this is still the ideal for models. How does that affect body image? Well, let’s think about it.
What we see in magazines, on television, in movies and social media affects what we think is acceptable, healthy, normal, and attractive. It is super fascinating to me to see the evolution of these trends and ideals, from decade to decade, as evidenced by the big names and photos above. We see all of these celebrities who look different: Marilyn Monroe, Farrah Fawcett, Madonna, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian; Elvis Presley, John Travolta, Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Joseph Gordon Levitt … and yet our models have not changed since the 60s. We see all different races, eye colours, hair colours and types, and yet models are typically Twiggy-like. Sure, we have some plus sized models but they are mostly size 6-10, when the average person in North America is size 13. Of course, there are people who are bigger and smaller than that. If we have this idea in our heads of what is socially acceptable and what is deemed attractive, then how are there so many people in happy, healthy relationships if we are all only attracted to one thing?!
You wanna know how to get a bikini ready body? Put a bikini on your body. Boom. You did it. Here is an important cultural difference: when I was in Portugal, literally every woman on the beach was wearing a bikini. Old, young, pregnant, large, thin, tall, short, black, white, tanned – everyone was in a two-piece. It’s a common cultural thing. It is deemed normal to wear a bikini no matter your shape. I was in a tankini with shorts, and the family that I was with asked “you don’t have a bikini?” and they were surprised that I was so covered. One of them said, “well you look great, if that’s what you’re worried about”. They figured out that it was a cultural thing. The mother of the family, through some translation, said ‘You only have one body. Part of treating it well is to appreciate it. And if there’s something about your physicality that you want to change, then do something to change how you see yourself.’
When you are around people who exude confidence, you feel more confident. When you are around people who are happy with themselves and their bodies, you too will feel happier with yourself and your body. It’s an amazing and incredible thing to have such a strong support system. And if you have not yet found that, continue searching. Surround yourself with people who make you feel great. Your body is your body; it’s the only one you’ve got. Yes, it’s okay to feel insecure, and yes, we all have insecurities. There are lots of things that happen to our bodies – some we can control and others we cannot. Rather than shying away from these changes and attempting to stop them from happening, let’s embrace our vanity. Let’s not be so vain.
Imagine not being able to see what you look like. Check out this great video. There was once a time when we did not have mirrors or cameras. We had to get our confidence from those around us and how we felt. I challenge you to not look at yourself for 24 hours. No mirrors, photos, cameras. Pay attention to how other people treat you and see you. When my partner comes home tonight, I am going to do my best to see myself how he sees me. If I do that everyday, I will feel like the most beautiful person in the world.
I also challenge you to let other people feel the love that you have for them and the awe and the excitement that you get from being around them. Bodies are amazing, complex, and we’re still learning so much about the human body. One thing is: our bodies are super weird. We get pimples, stretch marks, moles, sometimes our eyes change colour, our hair changes colour, we lose the elasticity in our skin as we age. Let’s embrace that; let’s be excited by the fact that we have lived. We have experiences and stories to share, lives that we have lived and our bodies help us portray that. Let’s quit beating ourselves up because we don’t have Photoshop in our day-to-day lives.
We are far more critical of our own bodies than anyone else is. I’m going to be vulnerable for a minute here, which is never easy: I have acne on my backside. At times it is painful, and I am very self-conscious and super aware of it. My partner so rarely notices when I have a pimple. I feel it, am embarrassed, am ashamed; he doesn’t care. He might see it, think, yep – that’s a pimple, and then carry on his way. My few pimples do not affect anyone else. The only one suffering these anxieties is me. And if I let them hold me back, I would never get changed in front of anyone or get naked or have sex. You are probably the only person who noticed the scars, the stretch marks, the pimples, for more than 5 seconds. The rest of us, we say ‘huh. Okay. Those are some stretch marks’ and continue on. What affects the rest of us is your outlook and how you interact with us. This is so much easier said than done, as so many things are. We should be grateful for the bodies we have been given. And yeah, so what, there are things that some of us can’t do. That’s okay. There are other things that our bodies and brains can do, and it’s awesome. If we could all do the same things, life would be much less interesting.
Let’s be grateful. Everyday is a gift. Let’s use them. We have no idea what will happen to our minds or bodies or loved ones tomorrow. But we’ve got today. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to solve every single problem in the world today; some things take time. It means that we should strive to reach our goals, go after what we want, and make changes. And we need to remember that nothing is going to change in our lives until we take the steps to change. Maybe that means studying really hard, or practicing the piano over and over, or surrounding yourself with people who make you feel great. The cool thing is that it’s up to you; don’t let your body stop you. And don’t let anybody else tell you what your body should or should not look like.
Your body is yours. And it is up to you to decide how you feel about it and what you do to change how you feel about it. This incredible slam poetry is a great example. So get on out there. Surround yourself with incredible people and do things that make you feel good.