By Jennifer Mckean
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 10, 1998

Respect yourself


Arizona Daily Wildcat

Jennifer Mckean

How do you feel about yourself?

Take a moment and step back from the routine denial of self-consciousness in our lives. Do you like the way you look? Are you a little skinny, a little heavy, a little light-skinned or a little dark?

I bet everyone out there could name at least five physical traits about themselves they are dissatisfied with. At different stages in your life, you feel either good or bad about yourself, no matter how self-confident you claim to be. Some people are obsessed with their ears, their noses, their feet, their legs, their arms, everything. What is it for you? Are your teeth not white enough, not straight enough? Is your hair the wrong color or texture? Do you hate going shopping for jeans because nothing fits right?

Without horribly over-generalizing, college-aged women often complain about their bodies. They are not happy with their proportions; whether it be their hips, breasts or butts, they want to change it.

For me, I grew up thinking that I was too tall. I really wasn't that tall, but all of my friends were unbelievably short. Later, I was grateful for my height because all of my shorter friends wished they were tall. Everything is relative. The ones with naturally curly hair desperately wanted straight hair, and those with beautiful straight hair always tried to make their hair curly.

Why is it that people can never accept the way they are naturally? Everybody is beautiful in their own way, in my opinion. But then we could argue, "What is beautiful?" Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. The "ugliest" person on earth to someone could be the most desirable to another.

The idea of physical beauty can be very constructive and also very destructive. If you are society's vision of beautiful, you will benefit from that for the rest of your life. Opportunities for jobs, dates, favors, you name it, will suddenly arise from nowhere. It's easier to get things if you are beautiful. If not, you will struggle with your self-image and maybe nothing will come easy in life.

If we as a society are so disturbed by images of "perfect" women, both in print and in the broadcast, why do they continue to exist? We endorse those images. There's a certain mystery and intrigue to woman like Kate Moss, who sports the malnourished look. You can compare it to art. Even though it may be grotesque, it makes a lot of money because it draws people in. She wouldn't be so famous if we didn't want her there. Someone's buying the product. We chose what images we want to see by not switching the channel or not putting the magazine down.

Are we so obsessed with physical images because the media is brainwashing us with society's expectations of what men and women should be, or is that an excuse for self-pity? Accept responsibility for yourself. If you are a little overweight, don't blame thinner people for putting pressure on you to be more desirable. It's not men's fault either. Accept your natural figure as a gift. We are all unique and extravagant in our own special way. If we don't see that in ourselves, others won't see it in us either. Or you can exercise and eat healthier. You'll be amazed.

There was an article recently in the Arizona Daily Star, "No more bone-thin models in diet-cereal ads," that said women couldn't relate to unreal body images. What's so unreal about someone's body? The fact that they're thin? Kellogg Co. is dropping their Special K commercials in which models squeeze their perfect little figures into tight jeans and clingy dresses. The company switched its strategy, because women in focus groups indicated that the ads were alienating them.

Calvin Klein and Ford Models have also recently decided to change their ad campaigns to a more acceptable, full-figured look. Their models will be sporting more smiles and less bones in 1998.

Those men and women in fashion magazines and on television are real people. They wake up every morning just like you and me. The American public is always claiming that they can't identify with the "model" figures, because it is not representative of the average person. Why should everyone in the public eye strive to be "average"?

Jennifer McKean is a junior majoring in Journalism. Her column, "In Sunshine and in Shadow," normally appears every Tuesday. The title of her column, like so much phenomena, is enigmatic.


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