While I was picking up a book I had on hold at the library today- yes, I still read REAL books, I went over the movie section to see if there was anything good. I found two documentaries: America the Beautiful and Food, Inc. So far I’ve watched America the Beautiful and it was heartbreaking.
America the Beautiful is about body image, what beauty is and how society and the media. It specifically follows a young aspiring model (12-years old) Gerren Taylor. At 12, Gerren is almost 6′ tall and can take a runway like a pro. She had been teased by classmates for her height, but professionals from the modeling industry complimented her and most couldn’t believe she was only 12. Hell I couldn’t believe it until the filmmaker said so.
Since Gerren was 12 when she started as a runway model, she hadn’t fully developed her body, more specifically grown into her hips. After three years of jobs from Tommy Hilfiger to Marc Jacobs, Gerren had a hard time getting work. She tried going to Europe and they told her that her size 4 hips (38″) were too big for the clothing and she was now considered obese for the modeling world.
In one scene, Gerren lifts up her shirt to show her flat stomach and reiterates that it’s flat. She then points to her hips and says, “this is bone, I can’t change what my mom gave me”. Everything about her body is perfect; at this time she’s 15/16 years old and is about 6′ tall. Most women would admire and strive to be her, but viewers see her self-esteem torn down because an industry has set unrealistic standards for the average woman. While Gerren wasn’t and isn’t average, she still thinks like any other human and words can hurt.
As I was watching the movie, I thought about how the media and society can influence us and how we can toss blame around. When Britney Spears was in her prime, parents would complain that she was the reason their daughters dressed in minimal clothing. Images of models and porn stars give us unrealistic standards of beauty, body image, sex and love.
I, myself, have embrace hot bodies that are photographers and I have wished that I could look like them. There are even times that I get overwhelmed scrolling through instagram because I wish there was more time in the day, I wish I didn’t have a second job or that there was more money for food or a million other excuses I can think of for why I don’t have a body like those I see. There have been days when I’ve worked out, not because I wanted to or because I felt powerful after, but because I felt a pressure to do so. I can’t tell you how bad I want to be out of my size 10 body, but watching this film made me take a step back and realize that there are times I’m doing it for approval. Who’s approval- I have no idea, but there are times when I think about “how bad to I really want this?”
The truth is, there are days when it’s really hard. There are days when I have really push myself to stick to eating balanced and there are days when it’s easy and I look forward to my veggies and protein. There are days when I allow myself to get flooded and upset for living in a city where I still don’t know many people. There are days when I get my butt to the gym and work as hard as possible. The past month has really been a roller coaster. And the water challenge I’m taking with my friend has been a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it’s also making me pause and think about what I’m consuming. It’s been 4.5 days since I’ve had a coffee or soda, I did have one beer, but if I don’t have many over the last 25.5 days, it’ll still be a good accomplishment. This is definitely harder than I thought it would be, but it’s a good step to get back on track, rather than go cold turkey altogether.
This film really opened my eyes about my own body image and maybe it’s time I take a break and stop trying to be so perfect. Maybe I watch my intake and eat as clean as I can, but stop killing myself over the processed cookie or tortilla chip I had earlier in the day. Today was a pretty good day, but there were times that I had to try very hard to not eat out of boredom or stress.
Maybe I need to stop putting unrealistic expectations on myself, love the size 10 jeans I’m currently wearing and hope that I can reach my size 8 goal in 6 months.