by Dara Chadwick
It seems like I’m constantly talking about the fact that the beautiful models and celebrities we see in magazines simply don’t look like that in real life.
In my book, You’d Be So Pretty If…, I included a chapter on how media images affect women — and girls. I talked about my experience as Shape magazine’s Weight-Loss Diary columnist and how much my daughter learned about the “perfect” images we see in magazines when she accompanied me to a photo shoot for the May 2007 issue.
I talk about it, yes…to anyone who’ll listen, in fact. But still, I hear women say things like, “She’s my age. Why can’t I look like that?” or “She just had a baby and look, she’s lost all the weight already.”
There’s an attitude that if a model or celebrity is our age or at a similar stage in life, we could look the way she does if we just work hard enough.
Clearly, it’s our failure.
First, let’s consider the teams of people involved in the lives of most celebrities. There are nannies or babysitters or live-in grandparents to watch the kids not only while they work, but also while they work out, head to the spa and otherwise spend time doing the maintenance work that needs to be done to look a certain way. There are shoppers and stylists, manicurists and make-up artists, designers and trainers, all dedicated to the upkeep of a celebrity’s image.
Please know that I’m not faulting them. Yes, there are clearly rewards to the celebrity lifestyle, but it’s also clearly a lot of pressure and there seems to be very little forgiveness from an often fickle public.
Second, let’s consider the amount of retouching that goes into the average magazine photograph. It’s a lot. Really.
So to compare ourselves to celebrities — and find ourselves lacking — is so unfair, I don’t know where to begin.
Instead, I’ll leave you with this, which came to me courtesy of another body image blogger. It’s a Newsweek wrap-up of “the decade’s most egregious retouching scandals,” under the very apt headline: Unattainable Beauty.
Please, grab your daughter and take a look together. Talk about what you see. Talk about how it makes you feel. Talk, talk, talk about what beauty really is…and be sure to notice that all of these women — Madonna, Faith Hill, Beyonce, Katie Couric — are still beautiful in their “before” shots.
They’re just not perfect. Neither are we. And that’s OK.
Dara Chadwick is the author of “You’d Be So Pretty If…: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies – Even When We Don’t Love Our Own. She has been interviewed on NBC’s TODAY Show , as well as on a variety of radio and television programs. A former Weight-Loss Diary columnist for Shape magazine, Dara has written about health, wellness and parenting for magazines such as Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, VIV, For Me, Shape, Parenting and Working Mother. Her work has also appeared online at sites such as The Daily Beast and Psychology Today You can learn more about her at DaraChadwick.com.