Women redefining opinions on body image and self-esteem


At the end of January 2018, beauty history was made when Ashley Graham was picked up by Revlon to be the first “plus-sized” model in history to land a major beauty contract, joining Gal Gadot, Imaan Hammam and Raquel Zimmerman in the new “Live Boldly” campaign.

Graham also broke down barriers by being one of a handful of non-sample-sized models to appear in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Body diversity has become the topic du jour in the entertainment and modeling worlds. According to the data polling source Supplied and beauty manufacturing company Dove, nine in 10 women opt out of important life activities because of body-image issues. A similar percentage of women put their health at risk to stop themselves from eating to lose weight.

Cross-cultural research by Dove has indicated that body image recently reached critical impact levels. But thanks to more outspoken models and high-profile individuals, body image and self-esteem as these issues relate to women is improving.

A 2016 study by Bryan Karazsia, an associate professor of psychology at The College of Wooster, examined data from more than 100,000 men and women over 31 years, finding women’s body image dissatisfaction dropped by 3.3% — a “substantial” finding. Some of the reasons behind the change included a shift in media depictions, a new body ideal of lean and toned rather than “skinny” and because a greater number of people in North America are simply larger.

Women can boost their self-esteem and reverse negative feelings about their bodies by introducing new thinking patterns.

Don’t always believe what you see

Some companies use very small models for their marketing efforts and through digital photo manipulation whittle down bodies even further. Some models dubbed “plus-sized” do not actually meet that classification.

Models are considered plus-sized if they wear between a size eight and 12, with some as small as size six. The average American woman wears a size 16, according to the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, and that’s at the lower end of “plus sized.”

Shop fit not size

What’s appearing on racks may be subjected to “vanity sizing,” where everything from jeans to swimwear is cut small. Rather than focusing on sizes on the tags, women should choose items that fit well and feel comfortable.

Make a list of positive attributes

The National Eating Disorders Association recommends women focus on the things they like about themselves and attributes that pertain to more than their appearance.

Choose positive friends

Women can surround themselves with positive-minded people who do not compare their bodies to others’.

Female self-esteem and positive body images are improving as more women and industries promote body positivity. (MC)

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