‘Surely, the advertising reality is that women want to buy garments that are worn by someone more attractive than they are’…. Err nah. Exactly two weeks ago I found myself speaking to Jeremy Vine live on air on BBC Radio 2 regarding the issue of air brushing images which were brought on by model and fashion blogger, Stina Sanders. Stina stated that she decided to make her social media images more real and chose not to air-brush or use filters on her photos instead choosing to take pictures of her everyday life i.e. defuzzing her facial hair (which I am also guilty of) to make her more relatable. She found that women of all ages from 16 to women in their 60’s were emailing her and ‘coming out of the woodworks’ about their secrets when it comes to their appearance. My take on this? BRILLIANT!
I think the thought of media platforms using airbrushed images or one type of woman to market their products or services creates quite a negative and dangerous culture that is rather unsettling. When I look at things that used to influence my perception of beauty as I was growing up to the age I am now, I think of my perfectly formed, white, blonde Barbie doll that travelled with me everywhere until I traded her in for a BMX bike. To me, I thought that is what the world found beautiful and without the blonde hair or light skin, I was not considered beautiful.
Now the world has moved on from I guess Barbies and my little pony (good old days) to iPads with more influential games. Like Stina mentioned in her interview, she stated that what influenced her change was her younger cousin who brought her a picture of a model and stated that she would never look like that (sad right?). Well a similar experience influenced my decision to ensure that I love myself for who I am (facial fuzz and all), plus making sure that I help others to feel the same way. My niece who was seven at the time was playing some sort of makeover game on her iPad and when she asked me to get involved I was shocked at what the makeover entailed. It required her to remove the body hair on the model’s legs and arms, edit out elements i.e. tummy fat and put make up on the model to cover spots so she can get on to the next stage. This all seems innocent when she is young right but paired up with the millions of airbrushed images we are fed every day at tube stations, on billboard and even on social media, it is bound to do some damage.
As she is growing up she is basically being told that body hair is not beautiful, acne is not desired and being skinny is the only way your body can be. I am using the example of a seven year old but if you look at your own perceptions of things such as cellulite, stretch marks, acne or body fat, it is met with some negative views or fear (from my experience anyway). It is somewhat a brave move for you to show all of this off but this is because for a long time we have been fed that it is unattractive to have these elements when some of these marks have beautiful or strong survival stories behind them.
Stretch marks on the tummy to some women represents a time when they created life or tells a story of your growth from a young girl to a women. Scars for me on my legs represent my best childhood memories from when I cut my hair bald just so I could play football at school and got kicked about left, right and centre or when I fell off my bike from pressing the brakes too hard in order to avoid riding straight in to a beehive (I got stung 6 times in the face).
My body hair represents a dominant gene I inherited from my dad which gave me thick, strong black hair on my head but this also spreads across my body (too much information? oh well). Although we were barely in contact when I was a child, his hair was always a talking subject and it was something that I felt tied me to my dad and I am proud of it still up to this day.
Anyway, what I am trying to say is, if we continue to accept the way images are presented to us because it just a simple picture. We are wrong. It is teaching both us and future generations that those images are the real definition of beauty when each one of us represents our own type of beauty that the world should see, appreciate and represent.
Jeremy Vine asked how Mymilla models feel about us not airbrushing our images so during our recent photoshoot, I asked our model Macala how she felt:
Previously our other model Jasmine stated that initially she was insecure about her size but one day decided that although she wanted to change it, she was going to start loving her body in the state it was in because there is nothing wrong with it. Her mission to change her body image to being slimmer changed to a mission of her just being fitter and I personally think that is the best mind set to be in.
Skinny or not, your body is yours and you should just own it. If you want to change it, change it on your own terms and do if for reasons that has nothing to do with looking like someone else. In terms of images, to individuals - just keep it real, learn to appreciate what you have and what your body can do… soon the world will learn to love it too. To companies marketing their products and services- it is time to represent everyone, there is not just one type of person that is beautiful and we don’t have to be airbrushed to be beautiful either.
Lastly to Jeremy Vine - thank you for having people such as Stina Sanders on your show to raise awareness on these issues. Browse through our website and I am sure you will see how beautiful our ladies are without being airbrushed or sexualised :)
If you missed the radio show, you can listen in again via http://bbc.in/1ZeK3Hj and let us know what you think!