Real figures and the Barbie ideal: has Barbie shaped our wedding insecurities?
Life is full of contradictions. We are expected to grow into balanced and healthy adults with a positive body image, yet all around us the media is telling us we don’t quite measure up. Every day we are assaulted with images of perfect looking women – women with long flowing hair, flawless skin and teeth so white it should be illegal. We all know these images are not completely real. We know they have been photo-shopped to within an inch of their lives. We know all of this and yet every time we open a bridal magazine or walk past a bridal couture shop, these images work their way slowly under our skin. And the next time we look at our imperfect selves in the mirror and contemplate just how we are going to fit into our dress, we start to wonder why our hips refuse to match those of the mannequins and why our skin doesn’t look half as dewy as the skin of the brides in the magazine. And slowly, over time, we begin to perceive the images we see as reality and our own bodies as something that have to be changed or manipulated. If you are a bride and have battled similar feelings of body-related inadequacy, this article will aim to debunk the body image myth and offer insight into ways of combatting it.
To begin with, it’s important to remember that the majority of the media images we are exposed to are not as authentic as they may appear. Forget photo-shopping, every single image we come into contact with was constructed under an ideal setting, a setting that included professional hair and make-up artists, lighting, backdrops and photographers. It’s not possible for anyone to look that flawless without a team of professionals working to achieve that effortless look. Add photo-shopping to the equation and you’ve got a recipe for perfection – perceived perfection. Unfortunately we only see the end result of these images. We’re not privy to the image of the model waking up with bed head and arriving at the studio with pale skin and no makeup. And it’s because of all this that we consistently feel as if we are not good enough.
So we’ve identified the problem, but how to combat it? How do we wear our wedding dress with confidence, knowing our bodies are imperfect and loving them anyway? The answer lies in the changing of our perceptions. If the media is constantly barraging us with false images we must remind ourselves that the women depicted are a mere smokescreen, on the exact same level as Barbie herself. If Barbie was a real woman she wouldn’t be able to physically exist in those proportions. Which brings us back to our initial point: she’s not real. The real women are the women we see daily – in the streets, on the bus, in the doctor’s office, and yes, facing us in our own mirrors. So instead of casting your body under a magnifying glass, reflect on the fact that your body is normal and healthy and exactly the way it should be. And when it comes time to your next dress fitting, let go of the criticisms and practice viewing yourself through rose tinted glasses.
To conclude our argument we must return to our original question: has Barbie shaped our wedding insecurities? If we take Barbie to mean the media in general, then yes, Barbie has helped shape the context for which we view our bodies. One would have to be living alone on a mountain top for the media not to have affected our perceptions in some way. But since we are constantly surrounded by images of perfect looking women, we must build our own defenses, construct fences around what is real and what isn’t. We should endeavor to train ourselves to perceive the everyday women we come into contact with as the landmark for our own personal reality. And once that has been achieved we must begin to view ourselves as beautiful. Why? Because we’re worth it.
Image: Bella Rosa Bridal