By JAMILA RIZVI
Eighty per cent of us are unhappy with the way we look.
Sixty per cent think negatively about our appearance at least once a day.
And a whopping 90 percent say that the way we feel about our body has stopped us from doing something in the past 12 months; whether that be going to the beach, having sex or getting our picture taken.
These are the results of Mamamia’s first annual Body Image Survey and while they are extremely concerning, they are not altogether unexpected.
As women, we are bombarded with digitally altered images of airbrushed perfection every day. We see them in catalogues, in magazines, on billboards, on the television and on the internet. Almost every picture of a woman’s body that we see has been nipped, tucked, smoothed, cropped and stretched beyond recognition.
The result? We think we’re somehow supposed to live up to these impossibly thin, impossibly pretty images.
But you know what the operative word is here? Impossible.
Because the reality is that none of us will ever reach the crazy societal bar that has been set. The only way you can look like that is with the aid of a computer. Just ask Jessica Gomes and Jennifer Hawkins, who’ve both been on the receiving end of some pretty hard core body shaming from the media this past week.
At Mamamia we don’t put up with it. We’ve always drawn attention to the fact that women are being sold a shit deal. A fake ‘reality’. A lie. And we have always called for there to be more diversity and realism about the way women’s faces and bodies are portrayed.
We call out Photoshop fails when we see them, we refuse to engage in the seemingly endless ‘post baby body’ commentary, we expose marketing that makes women feel rubbish about themselves in order to sell a product and we never airbrush or digitally enhance photos on this website that we have created ourselves.
But it’s not enough. It is nowhere near enough.
Because this new data shows that too many of our beloved readers still feel pretty shitty about themselves.
And we’re going to do something about it: We’re going to start publishing the alternative.
Tomorrow, Mamamia is going to be kicking off its very own Body Positive Project, in partnership with Fernwood Fitness.
We are going to ask our massive community of smart, interesting, engaged readers (i.e. YOU) to whip out your cameras and smart phones and take REAL photos of REAL bodies. Your own.
And we’re going to ask you to share them.
From tomorrow we’ll be kicking off a series of six challenges (a new one each week), which we would love for your to take up with the relish unique to this amazing community of women. All you have to do is check in on a Monday for information about the new challenge, snap a photo and upload it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest using the hashtag #MMBodyPositive or, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or, upload the photo directly in the comments section below.
We will then collate all of the photos to create some truly beautiful galleries of REAL women that will live on Mamamia in perpetuity. The challenges are:
CHALLENGE 1: My face without make up. Pretty self explanatory, we want to see what your beautiful faces look like sans product. This is about shelving the foundation, the mascara and the blush for a day and showing us your face as it really is.
CHALLENGE 2: The body part I used to cover up. We all have a particular body part that bothers us and we tend to buy clothes that hide or cover or draw attention away from it. For one day (at least!) we’re asking you to show it to the world. This means bearing your upper arms, or rocking a midriff top or giving your thighs some much needed exposure to the sunshine.
CHALLENGE 3: What I’m proud my body can do. We focus so much on how our bodies look rather than what they’re capable of. Maybe you can do a handstand, or run 100m mega quick. Perhaps you can do the splits or you’ve given birth to a HUMAN BEING. Take a photo that reflects the awesome achievements of your body.
CHALLENGE 4: My post baby body. We’re going to make the fodder of the tabloid press our own and show the world what a real post baby body looks like. Mums – we want you to grab a photo of yourself (undies or clothed, we don’t mind) that shows how great you look.
CHALLENGE 5: My face after exercise. Calling all red faced, puffing people. This challenge requires you to get up and get moving and then show us how you look afterwards, when all of the endorphins are pumping. Tomato impressions welcome.
CHALLENGE 6: The body shaming comment I won’t let bother me any more. The final challenge is a tough one. Ask any woman and she will relate a comment that someone insignificant once made about her appearance; a comment that she’s never forgotten. Well? It’s time we decided to let that negativity go. Share a photo that shows the part of your body that someone once shamed but that you are going to embrace from here on in.
Readers, with your help we can start a new conversation about the female body.
We can create a new “normal”.
One that is diverse and interesting and REAL. One that talks about the female body in terms of what it can DO and not what it looks like.
One that we can use to re-educate our daughters, our sons, our friends, our family, THE WORLD about what real women’s bodies look like.
This isn’t about fat or skinny or curvy or stocky or hairy or pimply or flushed or stretched or toned or anything.
There is just one rule for our definition of ‘real’: No digital alteration.
This is about you. As you are.
Click through the gallery below for some of the digitally altered images we are subjected to every day – this is what we are trying to combat.
Mamamia’s first Body Positive Challenge will be posted on Monday 19 August. Make sure you check in to be a part of it!