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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 17, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Columns2013-2014

Media exposes body image issue

Body image is a messy problem. Misconceptions about issues that surround body image lead to intolerance of certain people and acceptance of others. Mainstream culture isn’t making this any easier.

Lululemon founder Chip Wilson said Nov. 7 that if your yoga pants are too sheer, the problem may be your body. Lululemon is an athletics apparel company that focuses on creating yoga-inspired clothing. Wilson implied in an interview on Bloomberg TV that though there may have been a design flaw with the yoga pants, the women wearing the pants were the problem.

The media, fashion and beauty industries have been trying to negatively influence our body images and perceptions of self for decades. Wilson is just another example of this. Thankfully, people are fighting against these oppressive opinions.

Love Your Body, the NOW Foundation’s body-acceptance campaign, is making great strides for awareness of the media’s bias and the sexualization and objectification of women in advertising. They provide evidence of issues like narrow beauty standards, gender stereotypes and sexualization through examples and data on how this is harmful to women. According to the Social Issues Research Center, more than 80 percent of 4th-grade girls have been on a fad diet. Also, the body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by less than 5 percent of females, and the average weight of a model is 23 percent lower than that of an average woman.

A student newspaper provided another example of how to combat the issue. Morehouse College’s student newspaper, The Maroon Tiger, produced a publication called “The Body Issue,” loosely inspired by ESPN’s production of the same name. It features 30 students in the area posing nude and sharing their stories of battling and overcoming mental illness, addiction and abuse. This powerful method unapologetically and directly faces the issues we and the people around us face daily.

While Love Your Body does a great job of empowering and informing women about body image issues and how they are reinforced, Morehouse College has shown the media can combat this issue. It also proves how all media, student and professional alike, have a responsibility to fight society’s horrible tradition of reinforcing and encouraging body issues. The objectifying members of the fashion industry and mainstream culture can’t ignore these arguments, and that’s why we need more of them.

Ramya Vijayagopal can be reached at rvijaya1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @itsramyav