An Open Letter To The Media About “Ideal” Body Image


To the media:

You may not know me, but oh I know you. I know the monster you’ve placed inside of us. I see the unrealistic standards you set for our beauty and the underlying demons that accompany it. The eating disorders and radical dieting fads. Lose 10 lbs in 5 days. Look 25 forever. Hounding us. Hurting us.

When we were children, we would look in the mirror and see ourselves how we truly were: human and healthy. But as we grew older, we took more notice of the plastic infused beauties of Hollywood and the willowy and wraith individuals gracing the covers of magazines. Over time we edited it to include perky and big boobs, a rockin’ butt, toned abs, a thigh gap… the list goes on. From all fronts we are now told that this unattainable image is beautiful. But what comes of this?

Women around the world are starving themselves, injecting their bodies with toxic chemicals to match this photo edited and plastic model of the female form. The worst part?

There is no safe zone:

I volunteer at a boys and girls club after classes on Mondays. I will never forget seeing two girls who couldn’t be more than 7 years old comparing the flatness of their stomachs in a dance mirror and then proceeding to laugh and point at a fellow student who wasn’t as skinny, reducing her to tears. That same girl didn’t eat in front of her classmates for the rest of the week. It broke my heart.

I wish I could say that experience was an anomaly, but unfortunately it isn’t. I suffered from debilitating negative body image from the ages of 8 to 17. Some days I would stand in front of a mirror, pulling and prodding at my thighs and stomach, wishing I was stick thin, wishing I was beautiful.

In my high school years, my mom found me crying countless times, after I would try on an old and small pair of jeans, finding them to be too tight. Even though I was athletic and decently slim, I despised my body because I didn’t satisfy the laundry list of “beautiful” qualities. I was never going to be happy, because the idea of beauty that the world surrounded me with, the ideal that I deeply bought into, required a BMI comparable to a malnourished individual and plastic surgery. I still fight this battle on some level.

The worst part? I was beautiful; but it wasn’t in how media defined it and in my mind that meant I could never be.

Is this what you wanted, media? Are you proud of this spiraling despair in adults AND CHILDREN that you’ve manufactured? If so, congratulations. You have officially broken the spirit and positive body image of millions. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, well it’s clear what your pictures say: Unattainable. Unhealthy.  

But it doesn’t have to be this way, not if I can help it. It is more beautiful to be healthy and to nourish your body than to conform to a cosmetically engineered, photoshopped magazine cover. Instead of comparing stomachs, compare the positive things you do for your body.

Be kind to your body, nourish your soul. You’d be amazed what happens when you stop beating yourself up. I know I am.  

Media, you may not know me, but I sure as hell know you and I think it’s time to show you the door.


Claire Foster

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