Vail Daily columnist Linda Stamper Boyne: Images and reality
Vail, CO Colorado
I was standing in the check-out line at the grocery store the other day when I noticed that this year’s edition of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue had just hit the stands. I looked at the mostly naked Russian model on the cover, sitting in the most natural of poses, and several thoughts ran through me head in quick succession.
1. Wow, she’s beautiful.
2. I wonder how long she had to stay in that position? Her elbows must have been cramping up from being hyperextended in an effort to push her boobs together like that.
3. Did I remember chicken breasts?
4. I wonder if my boys think the way this woman looks is normal?
Once I confirmed that I did indeed have poultry in my cart, it was the last thought that stuck with me.
Now, I have a pretty good idea what the average boy thinks about photos of scantily clad women. But how much of what they see in the images that are everywhere in the media translates into what they believe women should look like?
Not an earth-shattering thought, but one that gave me pause. I think my generation of parents is dealing with this issue in a way that no other has had to. Combine the fact that the average American is getting fatter with the increased frequency at which kids see images of these beautiful, skinny, overtly sexualized women, and it has to create a disconnect in what is “normal” to our kids.
Take a look at the shows on TV, the magazines on the stand, advertisements and movies. They’re full of attractive people, well above average in the looks department. That’s not what the real world looks like.
Over the years, I have been thankful that I didn’t have daughters, that I would not have to deal with the same adolescent body image angst that so many of us went through. I wouldn’t have to have the fights about what she could or could not wear. I wouldn’t have to lose sleep at night worrying about eating disorders and crazy diets and the fact that she thinks she’s fat. I wouldn’t have to build her back up after mean girls taunted her for developing earlier or later than them. I wouldn’t have to fight the fight against media to help her to develop a healthy, positive body image.
But now I’ve realized I am faced with a different challenge. I am raising two boys who are living in that same world of issues, but I’m coming at it from the other side. While they will have their own battles with self-image that I will need to help them through, I am also responsible for helping them develop a realistic perspective of women.
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