Carbon copy

Is Image important? I wasn’t sure if I should write on this topic because even though it always seems to be controversial, it has been exhausted. Any conversation about body image can pierce the emotions of men, women, boys and girls. If you are reading this sentence, then you would have guessed that after my moment of deliberation in the sentences above, I have decided to comment on this topic. BBC3’s Body Beautiful season kicked off on 19th November and this is the main but not the only reason that prompted me to write. Surveying from a bird’s eye view, a few questions instantly flood into my mind:

  • Do men stress themselves about their body as much as women do? Watching an England football match would a man say, “Gosh, I wish I had legs like Rio Ferdinand!”
  • Do people in the developing world worry about body image? Or maybe they have more important things to worry about?
  • Who is to blame for the body image obsession?

The latter part of this year saw the annual fashion week brand come to life and it was not just about the clothes; there were definitely some alternations; Philip Treacy had an all-black model cast for his collection at London Fashion Week 2012; why? Apparently no reason was given, he just did it because he felt like it, I guess. Does this matter though? Is image important?

Philip tracey

The fashion industry always comes under a lot of criticism (much of which is valid) especially surrounding the size of some models. There are people who are naturally slim and tall but the industry does go to the extreme sometimes and is accused of sending out the wrong message to women and girls (I wonder if it’s the same in men’s fashion? This is not rhetorical. I would actually like to know… may I’ll do a little digging for another post).  Let’s remember the fashion industry is not alone in blame, magazines, films etc. also play their role. I stumbled across an interesting article, ‘Desire to be thin is in the genes’, as I do. In it, science researchers from Michigan University in the US conducted a small study with 343 sets of female twins and concluded that up to 40% of women may have an inherited gene causing them to be obsessed with their body image. So the majority will not bow to external influences to be ‘perfect’. Researchers admitted they are doing further research which will delve deeper into the connection between inherited and environmental factors on this issue. I saw another article that seamlessly fits into this body image topic, while strolling through Tesco’s on my lunch break. According to a survey of 1000 women in the UK, carried out by Ultimo Beauty, the figure most envied is TV presenter Holly Willoughby’s. The same survey claims that 50% of women would also pay thousands of pounds for breast implants. This did not surprise me; the obsession with cosmetic surgery is on the rise, especially in young people as chronicled in the BBC Body Beautiful documentary series.

Holly Willoughby won Best TV Presenter at 2012 Glamour Awards UK
Holly Willoughby won Best TV Presenter at 2012 Glamour Awards UK

It was sad to see males and females so unhappy with their physical appearance when there was ‘nothing wrong with them’. One girl even took out a finance agreement to pay around £100 a month, to cover her £5000 boob job! After her surgery she claimed that she received compliments from her friends. Having cosmetic surgery, even in this modern age is still dangerous; any surgery has risks to be honest. The PIP breast implant scandal affected 40,000 British women who received implants made with industrial silicone that were at a higher risk of rupturing and apparently cost the taxpayer £3million, as some were removed on the NHS.  I can’t forget British video vixen hopeful Claudia Aderotimi, who flew to America for butt implants, to further her career in music videos. Sadly, Claudia died when the industrial silicone that was injected into her butt leaked into her bloodstream. Claudia was said to have succumbed to the pressure of wanting a curvier figure, which is now more desired by women and what men find attractive, if you believe what is portrayed in music videos. In previous years supermodels were (and still are) condemned for being a bad influence on young girls, by encouraging eating  disorders and now people are also killing themselves to be curvier. If Claudia didn’t die, would there have been national horror at her surgery? Would she have landed the jobs in all the music videos that she desired with her new ‘Nicki Minaj type booty’? Cosmetic surgery such as butt and breast implants are not met with the same criticism thrown at super-skinny models but are both extremes. Having said that, there are some women who are naturally slim or curvy, but many women fall somewhere in between. Let’s not leave the boys out, they also had their share of the limelight during the BBC documentary, where some stated they were insecure about their bodies because they were too skinny and wanted to bulk up. According to some stats from another segment of the series, 40% of men would give up a year of their life for the ‘prefect body’ and 60% of men worry about their body image.

Who wants to be Mr T?
Who wants to be Mr T?

Psychologists claim that women are to blame for the surge in men being insecure with their bodies. Yes women! Here’s the science…. Women are a lot more financially independent than say, 20 years ago and so men feel that being financially stable is not enough to attract a mate. As women become more obsessive about their looks, men feel that they need to keep up appearances too.

Well, nothing new has been discovered here – society is obsessed with attaining the ‘perfect’ body image, and we all sit on this never-ending merry-go-round. I have noticed something positive (I may be a bit biased here though), even though Georgia Jagger has it easier than most being the daughter of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall it was refreshing to see the model representing cosmetics brand Rimmel, with her ‘trademark gap-tooth smile’. For those who do not know me, if you have not guessed I too am lucky enough to have a gap in the middle of my front teeth :-).

The Rimmel advert resonated with me, not because I liked the lipstick but because for years having a gap in your teeth has been the subject of some ridicule, including jokes such as the ‘mind the gap’ quote (an announcement for passenger safety, blared from the speakers on the Central Line of the London Underground). I remember an old season of America’s Next Top model where the eventual winner, was told by Tyra Banks to see a dentist to close the gap in her teeth, as it would hinder her modelling career, so it’s nice to see this ‘imperfection’ wide open for all to see in a national advertising campaign.

Gerogia Jagger – Don’t mind the gap! ‘Get the London look’

Danielle with the gap - Winner of America's Next Top Model
ANTM winner Danielle – but the gap had to go!

Another big British brand that’s revamped its look with a new advertising campaign in time for Christmas is Marks & Spencer. M&S decided to ditch its celebs and use ‘ordinary’ models:

Ages: 20-56 (who said modelling is a young girls game?!)

Dress sizes: 8-16 (not every dress sizes but covering a wider range than on the catwalk)

Hair Colour: Grey, Black, ginger, brown, blonde

M&S Autumn/winter 2012 ad campaign
M&S Autumn/winter 2012 ad campaign – Photo: M&S via

For years the media have dictated what they deem to be the ‘perfect’ visual of beauty. The same magazine that will cuss a celebrity for being too skinny, will also be the first to put  them on the front cover with a caption like, ‘XXXX falling off the wagon and piling on the pounds!’ in bright pink letters.

What we need to see is diversity, what we need to do is use our own judgement and not eat all that the media feeds. Despite these programs and discussions I don’t think we will see images in the media that fully represent society; I guess if that happened then there would be no fantasy…. If we could all be in a magazine or on TV then who gets to feel special? We can’t blame the media for everything, supply and demand is a simple concept and as human beings we have free will; living in an intelligent age we should not be easily brainwashed. Saying this, with the curvy figure now in vogue, maybe women are not influenced by models on the catwalk? It’s human nature to want more and strive for ‘perfection’ but physical beauty is only skin deep, so thank God we have more to ourselves than just our looks!

Bottom line, if I have to give one is, accept how God made you and be healthy!

doubleaad : AdelinA

All pictures from Google images unless stated

© doubleaad 2013


3 thoughts on “Carbon copy”

  1. GREAT article!!! I really like the fact that you talked about the male side of body issues. I always wonder if men compare themselves to celebrities too! And the Claudia Aperotimi story reminds me of an episode of the Tyra Banks show from a couple years ago. A girl came on the show to talk about how she almost died from getting injections for a bigger butt. Funny how that was seen as extreme but telling Danielle to close her gap wasn’t. Hmmm. Anyway, great job on the article again and here’s the link for the Tyra episode if you’re interested:

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