InTruBeauty: Unattainable Standards of "Beauty"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Unattainable Standards of "Beauty"

This week I have noticed a lot of focus on the media's portrayal of women, the unrealistic standards that are subconsciously imprinted in both male and female minds about what the "perfect" woman is suppose to look like, how she is suppose to act, who she is suppose to be, and how she is suppose to be treated. We have blogged about this topic before, like when I came across a shockingly thin model modeling Vera Wang's White Bridesmaid collection for David's Bridal. Because of that there was no way I would have agreed to wear any dress from that line for my brother's wedding.

I want to support companies like Dove that are attempting to portray real beauty instead of supporting the companies that do not.  I just wanted to share some amazing videos and articles I've found this week on this topic which are posted below. First, I will start with a poem we read when I was a teen and it has stuck with me ever since. (Sorry for the truly disturbing images I posted, this is not to give these companies undeserved attention, but to raise awareness...basically I'm pissed) :)
Barbie Doll by Marge Piercy
This girlchild was born as usual
and presented dolls that did pee-pee
and miniature GE stoves and irons
and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy.
Then in the magic of puberty, a classmate said:
You have a great big nose and fat legs. 

She was healthy, tested intelligent,
possessed strong arms and back,

abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity.

She went to and fro apologizing.

Everyone saw a fat nose on thick legs. 

She was advised to play coy,
exhorted to come on hearty,

exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.

Her good nature wore out

like a fan belt.

So she cut off her nose and her legs

and offered them up. 

In the casket displayed on satin she lay
with the undertaker's cosmetics painted on,

a turned-up putty nose,

dressed in a pink and white nightie.

Doesn't she look pretty? everyone said.

Consummation at last.

To every woman a happy ending.

Click here to see this must see video.
"This commercial isn't real and neither are society's standards of beauty." By Jesse Rosten


Killing Us Slowly documentary series. This is the trailer for Part 4. You can see all of Part 4 on Youtube. There are three prior documentary videos from this series, studying and documenting the portrayal of women in advertising through the decades. 

"I don`t want to have to be beautiful all the time. I want to be able to look cruddy in my weekend sweats, with a pimple on my face and pimple cream on top of the pimple. The expectation to always be beautiful bothers me."-Cindy Crawford

"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" -Kate Moss

Kate Winslet was very vocal against this when GQ photo-shopped this cover without her permission.

Ana Carolina Restin, model that passed away at 88lbs and was still modeling at the time.



What are these images telling the young girls around the world about what they should look like?
I was lucky enough to go to an all girls high school where my strength, power, and beauty as a woman was constantly reinforced and emphasized. We were free to be teens and focus on sports, studies, etc, without worrying about how we looked. Without my high school, I doubt I would be the confident person I am today.

I'm sure we all remember this one. (Ralph Lauren has since apologized for using images)


Abc News Article about V's Magazine's "Curvy Models click here

Kate Winslet
Glamour Magazine using more "plus size" models.

Maire Claire has done this as well.

Often notice how even the ads with healthy women in strong poses are usually showing a lot of skin. I get the point of showing naked beauty in every size, but it seems so far that the only progress in portraying real women is to show them naked.

While some magazines have actually banned some too skinny models or banning too thin models from runways like in Spain, there are also increasingly thinner and thinner models and reportedly, designers are sending smaller and smaller sample sizes which even the typical skinny model can not fit into. The good news is that we as the consumer really have the ultimate power. Let these companies know what you think. Support the ones that are promoting a healthy body image. 

Not only are there extremely unhealthy ads and models out there, we also have to be aware of ads that objectify women, show images of violence against women, or turn women into only certain body parts with often their heads cut off in the pictures, tape or a belt over their mouth, or posing in a submissive manner. How often are we actually thinking about the messages these are sending to women and young girls? What happens when women are begun to be thought of more and more as things?

What is even more alarming is images of women in seemingly violent or rape type situations and the trivialization such images. We are constantly bombarded by these types of images and the messages they send.

How often do we see women in ads in powerful stances, looking healthy, strong and assertive?
What is truly scary is how easy it was for me to find unhealthy images and how hard it is for me searching right now to find any advertising images of strong powerful (CLOTHED) real women (not cartoons) that aren't scantily clad as super heros or gun toting babes.

Marilyn Monroe's dress size has been reported to be a 12, 14, or 16. By today's standards however, she would likely be a 4, 6, or 8. 

Even this ad taps into a woman/girl's desire to be considered "beautiful." The only "strong" women images I can find are of athletes and even they are done up and wearing little clothing.

I had to turn to searching for Oprah to find a women appearing powerful and yet still clothed! I knew I could find at least one image of a current celebrity female looking powerful! (Geesh!)

I feel physically sick even posting some of these ads, but hopefully they will shock and sicken you as well. Let advertising companies, magazines, makeup brands, etc know that you want to see more images of healthy women. I love blogging and I feel a connection with other bloggers in the community. I think seeing images of real women will help to at least start making a dent in these industries.

Yours in TRUE Beauty, 



  1. This blog is disturbing. I mean that in the best possible way. Thank you for shedding light on such a controversial subject. I had never made the connection that anytime a magazine does a "real women" issue or photoshoot, it's always so highly sexualized. It seems to send the message that real-sized women can only be strong and proud of themselves if they can still be seen as a mere sexual object. I think in many respects the tide IS turning (Europe is especially making strides in banning thin models or banning overly photoshopped ads) but it's not happening fast enough. Every day so many young, impressionable and naive women are exposed to these images and it's hurting them. Thank you for blogging about TRUE beauty Jessica and Justina!

  2. thanks Jeannie for being such a loyal reader! I just updated the post you should read again. I've been wondering if I should share my experience on this blog and with Jessica's post I figured it was as good a time as any.

  3. I know Jeannie, I didn't put that together until I was compiling and searching for healthy pix. I was aware of Dove and Nike campaigns already and found others. When I started posting the pictures, I was like hey, all the women are scantily clad or naked in the supposed strong and beautiful healthy pictures. It was SO hard just to find a normal ad of a healthy woman advertising a product. I just though of the Milk campaign right now, but thats the only one I can really think of. Sad! You should watch the killing us slowly documentary series, it was excellent. Even more shocking is the ads targeted towards girls and the way teen and child models are posed. They were too disturbing to even post and I posted some disturbing images!


  4. What has become standard in our media is abuse of women, depection of women with their ribs sticking out looking like they are dying children. Its highly disturbing that young girls think these standards are acceptable. The part that bothers me most is the Dolce gang rape scene,as one who has been gang raped it is not in any way acceptable. I think young women today have a terrible time deciding what is healthy for them is right vs what society wants them to look like. Seeing little children at the mall wearing makeup with their tummies bare is shocking to me. I was a naturally thin girl and always a healthy thin young women who was atheltic until I had a health issue in my 30's , now I am a size 12 and it is unimaginable how much abuse I get in public almost every time I go out, I have had women mainly, and some men ridicule me for being "fat". Yet I am not fat, I am under 150 pounds and am 5'3. But I cannot find clothing to fit my size 12 because most clothing sold is size 0-6!! When did this become acceptable in our society to force expectations on young women and all of us, that we are not worthy unless we are thin and beauitfil? The standards by which we treat women is absurd. I think your printing this is very good and thank you. I will be boycotting most of these products now. Good job getting the shock value out which is what we need to change the world.

  5. And by the way, because of the depection of women in a negative and unhealthy , or abusive manner, we must "boycott womens fashion magazines." I stopped buying them or reading them 2 years ago when models looking like these were in all the ads. They are a terrible influence on all women.



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