IMAGE ISN’T EVERYTHING

J- As a mother of three girls, it is very unsettling to see the images of women in the magazines lately that our daughters are comparing themselves to. Because that’ s exactly what they are – images. I myself have modeled for years and know exactly how much work goes into producing one of these “finely tuned” pictures – the makeup, the hair, the lighting and above all, the retouching. The retouching: They even retouch 15 years olds. It has become an art form. These masters of illusion can make your hips look smaller, breasts look plumper, neck look longer, hair look fuller and even put the head of one person onto the body of another. Are we really to believe that humans have no pores, no lines, no spots or splotches? Magazines are presenting unrealistic goals and ideals of beauty to budding young psyches. Not only is it unfair, insulting and intimidating, it is dangerous. Note to everyone out there who has ever peered into a fashion magazine: Don’t believe what you see.

M- It’s so true. Aging naturally and accepting and loving our bodies, imperfections and all, doesn’t sell products. They – the beauty products industry, the cosmetic doctors and the designers – are conspiring to make us want to attain the unattainable. I know and understand this, and yet I have to admit that I’ve succumbed to the pressure. I look in the mirror and find myself pulling taunt the skin around my face, wondering what I might look like without all these wrinkles. And I’m forever cursing at my muffin top and the excess flab around my back and arms (though I am careful not to do this in the presence of my daughter). I truly want to love and accept myself as I age, but it’s hard when the images I see in the media don’t look anything like the image I see in the mirror.

J- We can thank Coco Chanel for releasing us from bondage back in the ’20s, literally, when she redesigned women’s clothing and got rid of the confining and claustrophobic corset. But with the good comes the bad. Where clothing used to be tailored to a woman’s figure, now the figure was being tailored and conformed to the clothing. The era of the flapper, the bobbed hairdo, the streamlined dress and the stick slim figure came “roaring” in, which led to an increase in body image awareness and hence anxiety over fitting in with what was considered attractive and culturally acceptable. We still battle with these issues today, every time we look in that mirror or pick up that magazine. It is human nature to compare and to contrast, so at least give us a fighting chance in this war that we girls wage against ourselves. Let us duke it out with a real person for God’s sake and not a computer- generated image.

M- And those “real” girls, the size 0 runway models, look more like an elongated alien species than humans. They might as well put the clothing on hangers and rotate them around the runway. A friend on the inside tells me that when models don’t make weight before an upcoming show, the “reputable” modeling agencies will suggest they swallow cotton balls to suppress their appetites. And for the most part, we’re talking about very young teen models, the majority of whom are Eastern Europeans, whose parents trusted that the agencies were looking out for their daughters’ best interests. Hardly. The sad truth is that Anna Wintour, with the incredible power she yields as editor-in-chief of Vogue, could easily put an end to this cruelty and brutality. But she appears to have no interest.

On a more proactive front, I highly recommend that every woman and her daughters watch the documentary “Miss Representation” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom (missrepresentation.org). You will be shocked to learn of all the ways media negatively affect women and girls. This is critical, because in one week American teenagers spend 31 hours watching TV, 17 hours listening to music, 10 hours online, four hours reading magazines and three hours watching movies, which amounts to 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day. Truly scary.

Wag Up

Those brave, defiant, forward-thinking, fashion houses that refuse to use dangerously underweight models to represent their designs (J)
The Cove at Atlantis (pictured). With direct flights from Westchester County Airport, you can’t find a hipper place to beat the winter blues. Rock out at the adult pool during the day, grab some delicious sushi at Nobu afterwards and then dance off the day’s indulgence at Aura Nightclub. (M)

Wag Down

Boutiques that have clothes exclusively in sizes 0, 2 and 4. (M)
Designer ads that use 16-year-old girls to sell clothing and creams to women (who are usually older than that and are the ones that can afford to buy the darn things). Come on. (J)
Email Class & Sass at marthaandjen@wagmag.com. You can also follow Martha and Jen on Facebook at Jennifer Pappas Wag Writer.

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