Monday, October 29, 2012

You are a perfect You

When my girls were young I cancelled all my fashion magazines.  I did not want an InStyle Magazine on my coffee table inviting my impressionable daughters to compare themselves against Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan.  Little did I realize back then that this was in no way going to prevent my girls from repeated exposure to what the media and fashion industry deems to be “beautiful”. 

Disney.  I wonder what Mr. Walt would think of what his company has become? From child stars run wild, to Princesses scantily clad and rail thin derived from fairy tales so distorted from the original that they are barely recognizable copies of the masterpiece.  The marketing machine that is Disney has really outdone themselves this time in their latest collaboration with the upscale retailer Barney’s.  
From what I have read and viewed, this is the plan for Barney’s holiday window.  Minnie Mouse falls asleep and has a dream in which she is “model-thin” and able to wear the beautiful gowns that drape the human versions that walk the runways twice a year at New York’s fashion week.  
From this:

To this:

That is her dream.
I have to be very careful not to be hypocritical here.  I have a husband who works in the fashion industry, on 5th Avenue.  I have brought my children to Fashions’ Night Out.  I have taken them to beautiful stores, gazed at expensive clothing and every year we see the holiday windows.  I am well aware of the artistic expression and talents of many of the creative people that work for these companies.  They are artists.  They create a fantasy world which the majority of us do not partake in.  
It is up to us, the mothers and the fathers, to have an open dialogue about what true beauty is.  It is NOT a size zero.  It is NOT having the latest clothing.  It is NOT about the color of your hair and the shade of your foundation.  It is NOT about how many friends you have and where you shop.  I have been careful to balance sharing in the fun side of fashion, like attending FNO this fall, with responsibility, like leaving when the time was right, when it became more about being seen than having fun. 
I do believe that companies should take into consideration the young girls who see images everywhere and base their opinions of beauty, body image and self worth on them.  I do not think companies should be censored or fined for their business decisions, unless they cross a line such as using underage models or breaking pornography laws.  Companies like Abercrombie and Fitch and Calvin Klein have always walked a very fine line between what is advertising and what is crass trash.    I believe in using my dollar as a consumer as a vote.  I have never purchased anything at A&F, nor will I.  Now I add Disney to my list of stores I will not spend my hard earned money at.  My girls are too old for their products but I have nephews and cousins who are not.  
If Barney’s goes through with this holiday window campaign, I will not visit their store this holiday season.  I am sure they won’t care....I am far from their target female shopper.  But I will add my voice to the outrage.  I will send my daughters the message that beauty is not defined by a Visual Director sitting behind a desk at an office in Barney’s corporate headquarters.  
I just finished reading the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld and the key theme that I took from this book series is that if we seek to have our beauty validated or defined by outside sources, whether it be the approval of peers, or society, we are never going to find peace and happiness with the person we see looking back in the mirror.  I tell my girls over and over again, “You are a perfect YOU”.  
Find your own acceptance and definition of beauty.  
Do not let Barney’s or Disney define this for you.


Jen @ Forever, For Always... said...

Ugh! Poor Minnie Mouse!! Really have you ever looked at Minnie Mouse and thought her "fat"? Good grief. I agree completely. This doesn't only affect girls, but unfortunately boys are affected too in so many ways. It certainly makes this parenting job that much more difficult when we have to swim upstream against the media.

Jess said...

Excellent point Jen. I never really considered the impact this has on young men. Of course, any time we modify the "standard" of beauty it affects all of us.

Karen said...

I had already read that about Minnie. On the one hand I love the 'vision' artistic people have but on the other hand I HATE that the storyline is 'in her perfect world she is thin". I'm with Jen, I have NEVER thought of Minnie as fat. I am very mindful of this too. Keilee is very fashionable and while she doesn't care one whit for 'labels' she does like looking 'cool'. Same with the weight issue. She has said in the past she was 'fat' and it killed me. During the summer she got taller and she is now very thin, but she doesn't think she is thin. Yesterday Theresa mentioned that she looked 'mod' like Twiggy and Keilee and I looked her up and Keilee said, "I would love to be that skinny"!! Looking at the pictures of her she was VERY cool, but looking at her with a "Mother's" eye, she was really skinny.

To be fair, I say things like, "I feel fat today" to her and I shouldn't. It is a tough world, even homeschooling. They are bombarded by pictures of thin girls in skimpy clothes everywhere. Thank goodness Keilee thinks anyone that shows too much skin looks horrible and 'she would never wear that!". Ok I didn't mean to leave a post instead of a comment, this just resonated very strongly with me. Stay safe Jess and you all are in our prayers. Hugs and love

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Anonymous said...

Oh my--I am appalled too!

This has been a HUGE issue for me since I was 12 and I try to be very intentional about my girls exposure to this as well.

We are going through something now, too in terms of Allie's teeth...we are still getting opinions and hoping we can make her bite at least a little better...but we have been told that it's skeletal, it's a family trait and there was no preventing this particular issue (they were watching it for a few years hoping there would be a point where they could correct it, had to wait until she was almost done growing or it would have just grow back as her skeleton is sort of "predisposed" to this) BUT insurance companies view it as cosmetic surgery if there is no pain, you can chew, etc. and I pretty much agree with insurance's the way she was born (yes, I can see it even in her baby photos now that the orthos pointed it out to me). I am a little upset that the orthodontists want to do this surgery when there is no problem and it is a hereditary family trait (her bottom teeth are .7 millimeters in front of her top teeth in the front only--her bite is fine on the sides and back). I have been very upset about this message. This surgery, since it is not covered by insurance could cost over 80k and is extremely invasive and carries a lot of risk. I have been upset by our society's idea that there is one definition of beautiful and that any outliers are deformed in some way. I have been thinking so much about this in so many contexts.

Jessica said...

Theresa, I had no idea this was considered an elective cosmetic surgery. I love our orthodontist and I trust him completely but even he made a comment that set me on edge. Lilah's front teeth have these little ridges on the bottom that he said he could file off after her treatment was finished, for aesthetic reasons. Um...really? No. That will not happen. Allie is beautiful and there are things about each of us that make us unique. This is her unique special quality. Her smile lights up a room and shines through in photographs. She is a perfect Allie!

Jessica said...

Karen, we still have power! I have thought of this often too, especially since we visited the news channel last spring and I saw how unhealthy the female anchors were. Scary thin. I don't want Grace to ever buy into that thinking and while she has never been the girl who cares about fashion and weight, I can see how being on television can place force a standard of unhealthy body images. What made me angry is that this does not seem to be the case for the male anchors. Double standard?

I am just glad that I can have conversations with my girls and point out things that I see that are unhealthy, unfair and just silly.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, thanks so much. That means SO MUCH to me. I am really struggling with this...first, the orthodontist's suggestion of elective cosmetic surgery and second they make me feel like I am putting a price tag on my love for my daughter if I don't want to have part of her jaw bone removed and her jaw wired shut. I feel the same way, she is the perfect Allie. If she had issues chewing or talking or breathing or couldn't close her mouth or something --we would not hesitate. But the risks of nerve damage, lopsided smiles, termomandibular disorder, sinus issues, etc. just make this seem like surgery that should not be discussed unless it is necessary.

your response really meant so much to me--THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!!! it is hard to hear people criticize my children in this way.

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