Debate Magazine

Giving It Up

Posted on the 02 March 2012 by Juliez
Giving It Up

If you had asked me six months ago if I was affected by the media’s presentation of women, I would have responded with an unequivocal no. Yes, TV and magazines bombard us with horribly warped images of what a woman is and should be, but after all, I’m a feminist. I can expose myself to images of impossibly skinny, tall, well-dressed teens and look at them with clear eyes and my self-esteem intact. I know they’re not real! Besides, I think I’m attractive already, and just like to read the fashion magazines for the outfits, and nothing else. So what if I skim over the “how to get a hot guy to hook up with you” sections? This stuff really can’t possibly have any effect on me!

This was my internal dialog up until about four months ago, when I came home from a summer program where I hadn’t received my subscription to Lucky or checked out a copy of Seventeen or Teen Vogue from the library. It took me a while to realize that the little voice in my head when I looked in the mirror had started to say different things. I went from thinking “Oh, you look okay, today, I guess. You have a bit of a tummy and you really look much better when you put on makeup, but if you don’t have time it’s fine,” before my magazine hiatus, to “I look nice! I forgot how much I like this shirt!” or something similar afterwards. I feel happier with myself on a daily basis, and I’ve stopped spending so much time in front of the mirror at home and at school.

I thought that because I could identify what I was looking at in magazines that I was immune to it, but I was wrong. When my subscription to Lucky expired, I didn’t renew it. I’ve stopped getting Seventeen from the library. I only recently decided to give up magazines completely; I recently got a “complimentary issue” of Teen Vogue in the mail, and I tossed it in the recycling without opening it. I now bring my own book to read when waiting at the doctor’s office or to get a haircut, and I finally stopped watching Glee, which had been a guilty pleasure, but which I now realize contributes to making me feel bad about things I can’t change about myself (“I really wish I could sing and dance! Why don’t I look like them?’).

I never paid attention to the things I was telling myself about the way I look. I assumed that it was normal to not be completely happy with your appearance, and that even as feminists, we will always be insecure about our bodies. This is NOT TRUE. I am so much happier since I stopped the influx of negative messages, and I can only hope that one day society will accept that we have so many more important things to to with our bodies and talents than to “dress for your shape.”

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