Our personal perception of our bodies has always been shaped by early life experiences that impacted our way of seeing ourselves and is the main source for self-criticism.
Lately, however, with the 24/7, can't-escape-grasp that the media has on us, the images we see in magazines and on the internet have started to have just as much influence on our body image as our own personal experiences.
Research shows that both men and women are negatively affected by the perfect images of models we see in the media. We aspire to look like an image that is physically impossible to attain in real life. Even supermodel Cindy Crawford has admitted to noticing the discrepancy in her before and after images, saying, "I wish I
looked like Cindy Crawford."
While the industry is adamant about pushing a certain beauty ideal on us, both men and women have started taking a stand against photoshopped images being displayed in the media. A time-lapse video that has made waves all over the world this past year, shows a woman going through a drastic beauty transformation-with the help of professionally applied makeup, lighting and most notably, photoshop.
The end result is shocking. The model featured in the video was revealed to be 35- year old Sally Gifford Piper from New York and it was her director husband, Tim Piper, who created the video. "I feel really angry about the pressure on women and the reality is that most of us don't look like these perfect women," Gifford Piper said. "I think that there needs to be a celebration of all different shapes and sizes. And we need to see more variety and I'm determined to fight for that."
The pair released the video in the hopes of inspiring mandatory disclaimers on all photos of photoshopped models. The worldwide attention it received certainly sparked a debate and perhaps inspired others to follow suit.
European retail giant Debenhams has officially put an end to airbrushing in all of their ads saying, "We're showing our commitment to encouraging positive body image by using un-airbrushed lingerie photography."
[caption id="attachment_61549" align="alignnone" width="620"]
Debenhams before and after photoshop reveal[/caption]
And over the last few years, numerous governments around the world have implemented policies and guidelines for ad campaigns, requiring that a warning label be placed on images that have been digitally altered.
While we still have a long way to go until what we see in ads is reality, the fact that this issue is being discussed is a step in the right direction. Even Hollywood is slowly catching on, steadily preferring to cast natural-looking actors in movies as opposed to surgically-enhanced actors (especially for the over 65 age range).
"We'll see how long we can hold onto this trend, but it seems to be catching on and people of all ages are more than eager and ready for it," psychologist Vivian Diller recently wrote in Psychology Today. "Perhaps the next generation will benefit from those that preceded them- learning from a culture that lost its way, panicked about aging, only to find it again in their very own real bodies and faces."
Perhaps a change in attitude is all that's necessary to inspire change.
"As I see it, the yearning for perfect beauty is beginning to lose strength among everyday women and celebs alike. Boomers may have been the first to feel what I call "image fatigue" as their attempts to appear like younger versions of themselves led to too many inauthentic faces and bodies," Diller continued. "Millenials are experimenting with more fashion and makeup statements that express authenticity. For many young women, less is becoming more."
You never know, one day you might skim through a magazine and see an image of a model that doesn't bring on a yearning for unattainable beauty but a sense of contentment instead. Because one day, we just might see ads that display reality and not a fantasy.