I love seeing ad campaigns that use women of different shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities. It's refreshing and uplifting after so many years of stick-thin, rail-straight models schilling products. And professionally, I've benefited from them as a plus-sized model. But even these new, diverse-bodied ads are sending an incomplete message.
Changing our perceptions about body image shouldn't be about "bigger is better." Rather, it should be about encouraging acceptance of all body types ... Skinny-shaming isn’t any less offensive than fat-shaming.
This idea that "real women have curves" misses the mark. We're all real; there are many ways to be a real woman. It's an idea I care deeply about, as a model and also as a woman who spent years agonizing over her appearance.
Models and advertisers telling us “You’re beautiful just the way you are” only reinforces the idea that our appearance is all that matters. The message is still that beauty is all about what you look like, and therein lies the problem. We're taught as women that beauty determines our value, that beauty is power. And while that may be true for some, what happens when your physical beauty begins to fade? Are you unworthy because you don’t measure up physically?
For me, it isn’t about trying to change society’s standards of beauty. Rather, it’s about choosing to change the way I see myself and redefine what it means to be beautiful. It is up to each of us to lessen the importance we place on physical beauty and instead acknowledge and embrace the notion that looking beautiful isn’t the most important thing a woman can achieve.
You know what is beautiful, sexy bombshell, girl-next-door gorgeous to me? Empowerment. Kindness. Authenticity. The courage to be who you truly are.
While I do believe in keeping up with your looks if it makes you feel good, appearance alone shouldn't be what defines us. We have to begin to look at ourselves differently — with more compassion, grace and acceptance, knowing we're so much more than what we look like.
My friends say they love me because I am compassionate, funny, genuine, honest, loyal and fun to be around. I’ve never once had a friend tell me they love me and want to hang out because of how I look. Even men I’ve dated have said what makes me beautiful to them is my personality and heart. Now that is sexy!
It hasn't always been easy for me and I'd never pretend that I've always loved myself unconditionally. In fact, one of the biggest challenges I've ever faced is trying to love myself in a world that's constantly telling me not to. But I think our time can be far better spent cultivating these characteristics rather than working on “problem areas” to attract a partner, win approval from others or try to conform to society’s very narrow view of beauty.
My biggest beauty secret? Value yourself for something other than your appearance.
You don’t need “real models” with your same skin tone or body type to reassure your self-worth. Placing all our energy on physical beauty sets us up for failure. Instead, focus on what else you can offer the world.
What makes you feel beautiful?
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