I nearly fell off the elliptical this morning watching the segment on TODAY about Glamour Magazine's recent survey on body image. The survey was a follow-up to a study conducted 30 years ago, asking women how they felt about their bodies. Thirty years ago: not so great. Present day: still really very much not so great. This was not the reason I practically took a header off the gym equipment. We are mired in an epidemic of self-harm in the form of body shaming and image bashing. This is a thing that is not going away.
What made me stumble was the commentary in the piece by Glamour Magazine's Editor In Chief, Cindy Leive, blaming women's body image misery on social media. Really? I looked around at my fellow early morning workout zombies as if to say, "Did anyone else hear that? Does anyone else see the irony here? You know, huge fashion magazine devoted to pushing agendas for clothing retailers and cosmetic industries shocked that women feel sh*tty about their bodies?" Well it's a good thing social media is around to take the fall. I would hate to think that other types of media, like, I don't know, movies, or maybe, TV or, just spitballing here, magazines share some of the responsibility. I finished my tangle with the elliptical, muttering to myself about what I had seen and thought, who needs coffee when you all you need is a jolt of hypocrisy to start your day?
Glamour conveniently elided itself from contributing to the unrealistic standards that women and young girls measure themselves against when it comes to beauty, body and self-image. The piece noted: "Every expert Glamour consulted on this report agreed that social media is the biggest culprit behind this decline in body happiness." Lucky for Glamour, too bad for the rest of us glued to our social media, mindlessly "liking" Pinterest-perfect pictures and creatively contorting ourselves into increasingly weird configurations in the name of snapping the perfect selfie. At least we have Glamour to tell us how to make our hair shiny and lush like Viola Jackson's, perfect for those selfies you are no longer taking. I just don't buy it.
I admit that it would be nice to pin our body image hang-ups to one dartboard. It would be super keen if we could lay blame at the feet of the music industry, our seventh grade gym teacher or the guy (and let's face it, it was totally a dude) who invented the tube top. But just as our bodies and our relationships with them are complicated, so is the nest of issues that corrode that relationship. And the only way we can move in a direction of repair, health, and self-love is by flushing out all the factors that play a role in this never-ending body image epic (Seriously, now I know how Peter Jackson feels) and being willing to take on the hard, unglamourous (pun, yep) task of systemic change.
I can't ask Glamour alone to pay for the sins of many, and they should not ask us to support the lie that what they do has no place in the way women shame, judge, and criticize themselves and their bodies. THAT is the most shocking finding of all.