A women’s magazine shows a non-airbrushed photo of a young, beautiful, size-12 woman, whose rounded belly looks just like an average woman’s belly, and the entire world holds its breath.
Women flood the magazine with tearful, grateful letters and emails, newspapers and blogs cover the story, and everyone is genuinely amazed: a women’s magazine printed a non-airbrushed photo of a non-skeletal woman and the world didn’t come to an end!
I’m glad they printed the photo. I’m glad women were able to see someone who looks like them presented as beautiful. I’m just as tired as anyone else of the crazy photoshopping going on in women’s magazines.
I’m also glad that women’s reaction to Ms. Miller’s photo, their huge relief and teary gratefulness upon seeing someone who looks like them, demonstrates once and for all that images in magazines do affect us and our expectations of ourselves and how we are “supposed” to look. Whoever claims that women should “know better,” and should ignore media portrayal of women, is either naive or stupid. We can’t ignore these images. They have power over us. They are poisoning us.
I can’t help but wonder, though. How did we allow ourselves to get to a place where a photo like this is so unusual, so extraordinary? How did we allow women’s magazines (by buying them and thus supporting them) to continue to feature page after page filled with skinny, young, perfect-looking models who are made even more “perfect” than they already are by ruthless photoshopping? And the thing that bugs me the most: how did we allow the media to decide that an “attractive” woman must be stick thin, but have large breasts?
How did we allow all that to happen?
If we had stopped buying fashion magazines, and women’s magazines, if we had started sending angry letters the moment they started showing those ridiculous images, perhaps things wouldn’t have gone so out of control in the first place.
Obviously, this photo is just a start. A tiny step in the right direction. But this is all about money, and the huge publicity Glamour received from this photo pretty much guarantees that we are going to see more images like this one in the near future.
It’s about time.