I was planning on writing about modesty and dress codes, a topic I am rather opinionated about. I am putting that post on hold, however, to cover something that relates to the body image post I recently published. This week, Chrissy Teigen, the wife of John Legend, posted a photo to Instagram showing stretch marks on her legs. This set off a huge amount of support for her in the online community. Hearing about it was really inspirational to me, and something I wanted to explore more. Even though it is a topic I have sort of covered, I feel like the more we talk about it, the more aware everyone will be, and maybe something will change.
There has been a Love Your Lines campaign online for a while now, where women can post photos of their stretch marks. Some would ask why women would want to do this, and why other people would care. The goal is to let women know that having stretch marks is absolutely notmal, and not something to be ashamed of. There are hashtags on Twitter and other social media sites for these posts, including #stretchmarks, #stretchies, #tigerstripes, and #loveyourlines. Many of the women posting pictures are moms, particularly new moms. But, some are people that have gained or lost weight, or simply people that have gone through puberty. The comments on these posts are overwhelmingly supportive.
Lately, there has been a growing emphasis on real beauty, rather than accepting the photoshopped images we are bombarded with in magazines and online. I love that there is now an ongoing conversation about photoshop and how the fake images we see are actually damaging. It’s scary to think about how these images are affecting young people. Constantly sering altered photos of people we are told are the most beautiful people in the world sets an artificial and unattainable standard of beauty. This sets everyone up to not only fail, but also to feel insecure and downtrodden. A good example of this is the fact that the photos of me that I love the most are from my wedding day, engagement photos, and my senior photo from college. The thing all these photos have in common is that they were all edited. I know this says more about me and my insecurities than it does about my actual beauty. When I am reading magazines, I frequently forget that the images are not real. At least I know they have been photoshopped, and that everyone has “flaws”.
The weird thing about this issue is that when someone does post a photo that shows them without being edited and airbrushed, people call it “brave”. This is true in the world and on social media. While I would agree that it is brave to put yourself in a position of vulnerability, I think it’s sad that people have to feel vulnerable being their true selves. Have we gotten too used to airbrushing away any flaw that seeing anyone posting a “real” picture challenges us? Why do we criticize or allow other people to criticize those who are trying to be real and break this cycle of artificial beauty we are living in?
I don’t know what it will take to fix this. I wish I did. I hope that someday when I have kids I will be able to teach them (both girls and boys) about real beauty and the dangers of buying into this artificial beauty lie. I think I was raised with a good head on my shoulders, and I do not buy into this as much as some other people do, but I still have a tendency to compare myself to the women in magazines. For now, I can only hope that there is a resolution soon, and we can all start loving ourselves and being proud of who we are, flaws and all.