Men in Uniform = Yum Yum!

This is what more women picture when they think about firemen.

Most ladies can agree that a man in a uniform is always attractive. Whether he is a firefighter, businessman, police officer, or in the military, that uniform drives their attractiveness so high up. And most of the time, when anyone thinks about men in these roles, they think of tall, dark and handsome with six-pack abs that are well-toned and rock-hard. When many women think of businessmen, they automatically think about GQ, or when they think about firefighters, the image of “the sexy firemen” pops into their mind. But what about our bigger men in uniforms?

Did you know that you can legally be fired for being bigger? According to AOL, legally, if you are obese, you might be protected under the Americans with Disabilities act, however, if you are just on the curvier side, you can be fired or employers by refuse to hire you. In the military, according to Slate Magazine, if a man is 27 years old or younger, they must have a body-fat percentage below 26%. Is it really fair to turn away willing young men from serving our country because they are curvy? That doesn’t stop employers from rejecting individuals.

Many employers discriminate against weight all the time, only a few states are actually doing anything to prevent it.

AARP wrote an article where Rebecca Puhl, director of research at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity said, “In the workplace, it results in inequitable hiring practices, prejudice from employers, lower wages, discriminatory action and wrongful termination.” Curvy men are being discriminated for being big in almost every industry. Those sexy firemen, military men, businessmen and police officers are there, and they aren’t being discriminated against.

Although the military is a place where you think of all men to be fit, that is not necessarily the case. And even though they have rigorous training, not all of the men there are comfortable in their skin. According to Erik Gunderson, a researcher from the U.S. Navy Neuropsychiatric Research Unit, more than sixty percent of men in the navy are dissatisfied with their body weight.

Discrimination is not only race these days. Men and women are being discriminated against because of their body size no matter how qualified they are for the jobs they apply for. It’s time we stop only thinking about men in uniform as handsome men with chiseled abs, but when real men, who have curves, and who want to help our country. Be the one to stand up for curvy men, and help stop this discrimination.

 

Sources:

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2008/04/fat_soldiers.html

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2013/02/20/appearance-discrimination/

Gunderson, E. (n.d.). Body Size, Self Evaluation and Military Effective. Retrieved December 3, 2014. <http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/603578.pdf&gt;

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Victoria’s Dirty Secret

With the Victoria Secret Fashion Show right around the corner, the effect that the “angels” of Victoria’s Secret have on viewers’ body image needs to be discussed.  Every year, people all over the world watch this fashion show and compare themselves to the almost unattainable goals of the Victoria Secret Fashion Models.  Every year, the Victoria Secret Fashion show airs; and every year men drool at the “perfect” models and women become more and more self-conscious of their bodies.

I am guilty of watching the fashion show every year, and I am also guilty of feeling bad about my body once the show has finishe2013_victorias_secret_fashiond.  Reading all of the tweets, Facebook posts, and comments on these models has inspired me to finally take a stand against this show.  Emily Wilson, a fellow blogger, posted some tweets that she saw on her timeline about the VS Angels.  They include:

“Time to starve because VS Fashion Show is the 10th!”

“Nothing can make me feel so inferior as a woman than looking at pictures of VS Angels.”

“Like I don’t even feel upset that I don’t look like a VS Model, I feel suicidal.”

“RIP self esteem.”

These tweets portray the self-esteem issues that individuals have due to the fashion show.  As a curvy woman, I am able to back up the feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency after watching this show and looking at the “beautiful” models by society’s standards.  They have gorgeous faces, flat stomachs, long limbs, and perfect smiles.  In last year’s VS Fashion Show, Angel Adriana Lima stated that her routine before the show consisted of not eating any solid food for 9 days before the show, working out twice a day, and drinking a gallon of water a day.  For the majority of the population that have jobs, families, and other responsibilities, this is not a normal lifestyle.  However, individuals still feel the need to attain the body that the VS Angels have.   This unattainability creates self-criticism and a lowered self-esteem for curvier women, especially.

The media portraying these Angels as perfect, beautiful, and flawless enhances the typical body ideal, which according to Smeesters (2009) is not attainable for nearly 98% of the population (p.932).  The media’s pressure for all women to look like this, even when unattainable, is wreaking havoc on female self-esteem and pressuring women to go on dangerous diets to change their body shape.  In a study done by Smeester (2009) titled, The Effects of Thin and Heavy Image on Overweight and Underweight Consumers, it was found that the sociocultural norms that we have created as a society on thinness have a significant impact on women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.  These Victoria Secret Angels reinforce this “thinness= beauty” ideal that society has created.  This study also came to the conclusion that exposure to images like the Victoria Secret Angels leads women in our society to measure their self-worth by their appearance.

While thinner girls are also impacted heavily by these models, curvier girls have a larger speedbump to overcome in order to obtain higher self-esteem.  For some curvy girls, they will never have the flat stomach or perfect curves that these Victoria Secret Angels have, which could lead them to have even lower self-confidence.

Once reading these blog posts and scholarly article, I have realized that I do not need to be striving to be an Angel.  Each person is beautiful the exact way that they are, and should not feel bad about themselves based on what our society tells us.

Men and women need to realize that these Victoria Secret Angels are not the norm; nor will they ever be.  Yes, the Angels should be idolized for their success, self-confidence, and happiness in their own skin.  However, the population needs to start focusing on this aspect of the Angels, rather than the beauty and “skinny” aspect.

Curvy women are beautiful. Skinny women are beautiful.  Larger men are beautiful. Muscular men are beautiful.  Victoria Secret Angels are beautiful. It should not matter what the size of our clothes are.  Beauty needs to start being determined from our character.

Actions Speak Louder than Jean Size

Television shows and movies are a huge part of growing up and social life.  Celebrities are idolized by the public, and everyone has their “celebrity crush” or favorite actor or actress. These actors and actresses are constantly criticized by the media for their body.  If an actress is not skinny enough, they will be harassed and tormented in tabloid magazines.  They will not be considered as “beautiful” and every flaw of their body is pointed out.  To avoid these nasty comments from paparazzi and the public, actors and actresses hire personal trainers, buy the most expensive diet foot, and go to extreme lengths in order to stay skinny and “beautiful”.

Carrie, a 23-year old blogger created an extremely popular blog titled, Wish Wish Wish, where she speaks about all things beauty.  Carrie is a curvier woman, and is proud to be a voice for the women that identify with her.  In one post Carrie states, “…size shouldn’t matter, but it’s only inevitable people obsess over how they look when so many ‘influences’- celebrities, actors- are so stick thin and leading a seemingly ‘perfarticle-1296161-0A808135000005DC-788_634x855ect’ life.  It’s almost as though it’s normal- worrying.”

As a curvy woman myself, I can personally admit that my celebrity crushes are extremely thin and beautiful- Selena Gomez, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston.  There are not many actors and actresses on television that are curvy or looked up to.  For instance, the average female media personality of actresses weighs 23% less than the average woman in American (Goodman, 2005).  Therefore, the actors and actresses that we have been looking up to and idolizing are somewhat unattainable goals for my fellow curvy women and men.

The leading women in shows and movies are almost always thin, and have certain positive attributes that seem to always be accompanying them.  For example: having well-glamor, success, competence, involvement in romantic relationships, and having more positive interactions with others (Goodman, 2005). Because of these certain characteristics that most female actresses have, women feel the need to look as aesthetically pleasing as the actresses and models do.  If a woman looks like the successful, beautiful, and well-liked actress on their favorite show, then they will then have a higher chance of gaining the same positive attributes.

Many individuals in society need to realize that being thicker and curvier than the average celebrity does not make them less of a person.  Being as skinny as the actresses and actors in the media does not define an individual; their character does.  The media needs to begin focusing on the healthiness of actors, and not necessarily the weight of them.  So many people idolizing these skinny and “beautiful” actors and actresses backs up the media’s claim of skinny being “beautiful”.  A change in the population’s thoughts and perceptions on these celebrities needs to be brought about.

Together, let’s change the reasons we look up to certain actors and actresses in the media. Beauty should be determined by how individuals act, not by what size jeans they wear. 

Sources:

Goodman, J. (2005). Mapping the sea of eating disorders: A structural equation model of how peers, family, and media influence body image and eating disorders. Visual Communication Quarterly, 12(3/4),  194-213. doi:10. 1080/155551393.2005.9687457

http://wishwishwish.net/2014/08/lets-talk-body-image/

 

Princesses aren’t so perfect

The idea of “skinny is beautiful” becomes ingrained in children’s minds at such young ages.  Disney Princesses could be one reason for this phenomenon. All of the Disney Princesses that are beloved by the world are are tall, skinny and beautiful.  From these Disney movies, many young individuals learn that the only way to receive a boy’s attention and be happy is to be beautiful.  According to the portrayals in these movies, being “beautiful” is defined as being thin.  Rebecca Sternberg wrote an article about “the Disney Effect” and talks about the fact that the first six Disney princess that were created were all slim, tall. beautiful girls.

Urusula from “The Little Mermaid”

Research shows that girls expressed greater body image dissatisfaction scores after they watch Disney Movies. In all of the fairy tales that we have been told, the heroic prince and princess are always portrayed as beautiful and “good”, however the evil characters are perceived as ugly and mean, (Asawarachan, 2013).  In most of the Disney movies, the beautiful characters are never shown to be “bad”.  Disney characters help to uphold the stereotype of “what is beautiful is good” (Bazzini, Curtin, Joslin, Regan & Martz, 2010). Ursula from The Little Mermaid, is an evil octopus who tries to steal King Triton’s throne. Her character is not only ugly, but is also fat. This just reinforces to children that you will only be liked if you are skinny and beautiful.

Joanna Morelli, a junior at James Madison University, shared with me her view on Disney’s portrayal of princesses.  She stated that Disney princesses give children an unrealistic expectation of beauty and said, “I’ve always wanted to have Ariel’s body. Even in middle school I was still convinced that was the perfect body.” She then went on to tell me how she believed Disney Princess movies contain many bad values, therefore will not allow her children watch these movies in the future. These movies have many negative impacts on young children- especially when it comes to body issues. Lastly she says, “In order to get a realistic view of body image, people need to distance themselves from media and movies. Coming to college has definitely helped me broaden my views.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/30/disney-princess-real-waistline_n_6076634.html

Ariel on the left is the way Disney created her, on the right is how she would look with a real waistline. Morelli wanted to look like Disney’s Ariel all her life. Maybe if Disney made Ariel look like the picture on the right, Morelli would be happier with her body.

The influence of these princesses on individuals all over the world is immense.  Personally, I have always wanted to have the body of Jasmine. Not only is she pretty, she also is skinny and powerful. Until recently, I have never really noticed how much these beloved Disney Princesses and Princes affect individuals.  If just Disney movies can have such long lasting effects on girls and women, what other negative influences are there that we do not even realize exist?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/30/disney-princess-real-waistline_n_6076634.html

Jasmine the way Disney created her, and Jasmine with a real waistline.

If you want to see more Disney Princesses with real waistlines click here!

Sources:

https://storify.com/sternb13/the-disney-princess-effect-on-young-girls-and-femi

Bazzini, D., Curtin, L., Joslin, S., Regan, S., & Martz, D. (2010). Do animated Disney characters portray and promote the beauty-goodness stereotype? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(10), 2687-2709. Retrieved October 30, 2014, from http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271773/m2/1/high_res_d/dissertation.pdf

Be a man, man up!

The concept of body image is an ever-changing notion that a person must look a certain way, for society to call them beautiful. Today, the media is obsessed with displaying pictures and videos of women who are generally very skinny and often employ the use of image doctoring to get their point across. But what also seems to be under the radar for much of society’s attention, is the ideas and perceptions of male body image. While women are expected to be thin and have larger breasts or thicker hips, men are often expected to have a very athletic ability, preferably tall and muscular. In a sense, many females are usually trying to lose weight, while many young males are trying to gain weight through muscle mass. Even characteristics such as the size of a man’s genitals are taken into consideration when determining how much of a “man” someone is. It’s not uncommon that negative characteristics of personality in males, are sometimes attributed to having a small penis.

 A website called My Body Gallery for Men is a blog dedicated to sharing stories about body image from the perspective of men. While there are indeed submissions from overweight men, one striking difference from the women’s section is that more submissions in the men’s section are about looking older, bigger and being heavier. One submission titled, “Small Guy with a Big Heart,” is a brief window into the experiences of a 29 year-old man and his struggles with body image. I found that I was able to relate to a lot of his experiences such as being asked for a identification when purchasing items he was old enough to buy (such as alcohol at a bar). He later writes, “I joined this site so that smaller guys can understand that some of them won’t gain mass (like many advertisements say) and they should appreciate what they have and not be dissapointed.”

         Upon reading the nameless authors post, I found it striking how at a glance, he seemed physically large but in reality, he was very thin being 5’-8” and weighing only 119 lbs. I find that many males in my generation can relate to working out at the gym and taking lots of supplements and protein rich foods to gain muscle mass, or even to replace fat with muscle. But what really strikes me is that he, a third year nursing student reveals the fact that some men will just simply not be able to gain large amounts of muscle mass such as himself. He notes as well, that, “I also want the bigger people to understand that it’s equally difficult to become smaller.”

 In the past 20 years and beyond, the millennial generation of males will often see media that depicts males with chiseled abs and large muscles often times these images depict these men as essentially being dominant. As such, young men are often quick to boost the perception of their masculinity through boasting about how much they can bench-press. This begs the question, why are young boys so concerned about their not-yet fully developed bodies being so different from what they see in the media?

 Aside from the media, another source of perfectionist body-image ideas may come from a young man’s family and friends. The phrase, “man up” or “take it like a man” build upon the idea that a young man needs to not only be strong, but burry his emotion and mask pain with bluntness. Such pressure creates feelings of inadequacy and can lead to even extreme attempts at trying to fit society’s idea of manliness. A study conducted in 2012, published in the Journal of of the American Academy of Pediatrics has shown that 34.7% of middle—school and high-school aged children used protein supplements and 5.9% reported steroid use. Most behaviors were significantly more common among boys. The study later concluded that the sharp increase in recent years is a major cause for concern by pediatricians.

 While women have certainly been under a similar scrutiny for years, especially younger women, the point here is that everyone is a victim of the media. It is without question that women standing up to the media’s hypocrisies are indeed a victory, but why is it that the male audience remains silent? Growing up, I myself questioned if any male could have ever questioned what we saw. Do the expectations society holds have such a profound influence, that one cannot simply “man up” and talk about it?

 

Sources:

Eisenberg, M. E., Wall, M., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2012, November 19). Muscle-enhancing Behaviors Among Adolescent Girls and Boys. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

 

Blog – http://mybodygalleryformen.com/blog-248-Small-Guy-With-a-Big-Heart.htm