This glossy magazine is being hailed for celebrating ‘real women’, but is this all that’s needed in the fight for body confidence and acceptance?
Recently, American Vogue released a lingerie photo-shoot celebrating “all shapes and sizes”, a photo-shoot that has been warmly received amid much positive fanfare.
And rightly so.
The shoot features models Candice Huffine, Ashley Graham, Marquita Pring,Tara Lynn and Inga Eiriksdottir, all sporting gorgeous lingerie and looking sufficiently sultry and stunning. Photographed by Cass Bird, the heading reads “Give me a D! Give me an F!” Because Gorgeous Bras Come in All Shapes and Sizes.
It’s been hailed across social media as a celebration of ‘real women’ and while it does warm my soul to see these ladies flicker across my screen, I’m sad to say that it is not the triumph for ‘real women’ that some are claiming it is.
Firstly, can we all agree to make like Frodo Baggins and throw the term ‘real women’ into the fires of Mount Doom? Because the way that term has been thrown around lately makes it oh so damaging and not so empowering.
Have you ever noticed that’s it’s only ever used to describe fuller figured women who, in the words of songstress Meghan Trainor, have “all the right junk in all the right places”. So, sorry petite ladies who have not been blessed with bootys and boobs or those whose curves don’t mirror that of Christina Hendricks, you’re obviously a ghost with no real existence and should probably head towards that bright light that keeps shining in your eyes.
Here’s the cold, hard truth. When you look in the mirror and hate your body, when you feel ashamed to strip off and head down to the beach or when you duck behind your friends in photographs to avoid your real self being strewn across social media, is it the voice of Vogue in your head telling you to hide? Or is it the voices of your friends, family and work colleagues that really fuels your body dysmorphia?
While both parties can wear some of the blame for how we see ourselves, the evolution of body confidence does not rest solely on the shoulders of glossy magazines and flashy websites. Laying the blame at the feet of ‘the media’ is lazy and one Vogue shoot doesn’t really make a dent in the work that needs to be done.
First of all, the day that Vogue publishes a photo shoot like this, without it being being seen as a novelty spread with a sideshow element, and we all look at it without batting an eye, is the day that we’ve achieved true equality in the body confidence realm. What a wonderful day that will be, but really, it’s not up to Vogue to lead the way.
Much like the unattainable homes, wardrobes and holidays that fill its glossy pages, Vogue is not about real life and has no bearing on the thoughts and feelings of everyday people. It’s the way the people around us, in our own personal lives, speak and behave that has the power to change how we see ourselves.
For me, my own body confidence is littered with throw-away comments that have nothing to do with magazines and everything to do with the people around me. Every time one of my family members has labeled someone ‘lovely and silm’ and cemented the idea that you can’t be one without the other; every time one of my friends has described another one of our pals as ‘gorgeous’, skinny’ or ‘hot’ before they’d think to call them ‘funny’, ‘smart’, or ‘kind’; has stuck with me more than any magazine story or image ever could.
In fact, the majority of body judgment, shame and ridicule comes from everyday people sitting behind their keyboards,rather than the high flying editors that we’d like to believe are the villains of this piece.
Body confidence advocates or, ‘fatshion’ bloggers as they are often called, are increasing in popularity across the globe. International style icons such as Gabi Fresh, Nadia Aboulhosn and Nicolette Mason have been hailed as fashion mavens while on Australian soil bloggers such as Danielle Melnyczenko and Hayley Hughes are known as much for their promotion of body acceptance as they are for their flawless taste.
But for every magazine that runs these women’s photos, there are thousands of commentators that label them ‘fat’ and call them out for promoting obesity. For every woman who takes a leaf out of their book and heads out in an outfit that society doesn’t deem their body worthy to wear, there are many everyday people waiting to mock them. For every person who is consumed with worry about how they’ll look for the holiday season, is it the voice of Anna Wintour that is niggling in the back of your head, or is it the voice of your parents, cousins and friends that have got you cowering in shame?
So, Vogue, thank you for the gorgeous photo-shoot of these phenomenal woman — but we’ve got it from here.
Let’s not look to the glossy mags or media to set the bar for how we deal with body image. Let’s use our own thoughts, actions and keyboards to lead the charge.