It’s Not the Media’s Responsibility to Make Us Feel Good About Ourselves by Julissa Higgins

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Jessica Alba on the latest issue of Cosmopolitan France.

Put into simplest terms, magazines make money off of models, and if having thin models or digitally altering them sells, then it’s good for business. And if you really start thinking about the science behind this, it’s genius. It doesn’t mean it’s morally or ethically right, but from a strict, business standpoint, it’s genius. We can’t sit around blaming magazines for who they put on the cover if it’s what people are paying to see.

People have a natural inclination towards wanting to see “pretty” things, and because our society perceives pretty women as only being thin, then that’s what’s going on the cover. Businesses don’t control the media, we do. We decide what we want to buy, and because businesses exist to make money, they will put on the cover whatever sells. It’s that simple.

Though I see how it may not be morally correct to digitally alter someone’s body, I think there is a more important issue here. If we have the power to control what we think, then we have the choice to control how we feel about what we see. Chances are we are always going to see magazines and we are always going to see “perfect” girls on the covers of these magazines, but why should that matter?

Why should we need to be petitioning companies to edit what they do because the vast majority of people- women in particular- don’t know how to feel comfortable in their own skin? We can’t control how society or the media perceive women but we can control how we perceive ourselves, and nothing is more important than feeling good about oneself.

The bottom line is that we cannot wait until Vogue decides they are going to put “average” women on their cover. We cannot expect others to change their minds about what they think are ideal beauty standards if we, ourselves, are not comfortable about accepting more “average” beauty standards. The fact of the matter is that we aren’t sure ourselves. Most women will try to argue against this while still drooling over how great Jessica Alba looks on the cover of the newest issue of Cosmopolitan.

Part of the problem is that many of us become outraged when we think about how magazines are digitally altering people, but we buy into it because we, whether subconsciously or not, like it – it looks pretty. It does not matter that we think it’s wrong because our eyes want to see what looks “good.” If “average” women were placed on the cover of magazines, we wouldn’t be satisfied or attracted to it because that’s not what we’ve been taught to like. I’m not suggesting that this is right or that it can’t change, but only that it does happen.

What we have created is a superficial and insecure society that protests against what we have no immediate control over. We can petition a magazine to not put a model on their front cover of one issue, but it doesn’t mean the masses will collectively think she is as pretty. We, as individuals, on the other hand, have the choice of what we buy into.

The concern becomes that when we are unsure of ourselves, we allow outside influence to affect how we think. It should not matter, however, that 100 people think I have wide hips, for example, if I love my hips.

The concern, of course, then shifts to how it is that false ideologies of beauty set by our media are affecting our children. The only real answer is that children who are still very much vulnerable to outside influence cling onto that which media deems is “right” or “perfect” and believes it. The solution is that the education of our children begins at home.

If we instill in them self-assurance and confidence from an early age, they will grow to believe in those ideas. If we instill in them that true beauty is about how pretty their heart is and not their body, then it won’t matter what the media says. Chances are the media will transform to promote these ideas if that’s how everyone begins to think but, if this is true, we would have, regardless, already won the battle.

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