Monday, August 6, 2012

What I REALy think of REAL Beauty

Below are some images you may recognize, along with my responses to them, in pictures.  I just joined Pinterest so I'm all about the visuals these days!

#1: Dove's concept of "Real Beauty"
Image found here.

My response:
Image found here.

#2: An image circulating the web at this very moment.
Image found here.

My Response:
Image found here.

If you like what you're seeing, check out my new 
Body Positivity Images folder @ www.pinterest.com/kjerstingruys/body-positivity.  I'm collecting body-positive images and messages that inclusively celebrate the variety of bodies out there. I'd love help gathering more amazing and inspiring images for my growing collection!

27 comments:

  1. I have to say, I've been a fan of the Dove campaign, but I did notice, in looking at the picture above, how white all the women appear. Is dark skin not part of their vision?

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  2. Dear (I assume you're Mrs. Gurys?),

    I'm 14 and recently watched a TV special featuring your "OFF the wall" blog. I thought your idea of giving up mirrors was brilliant. I looked into the site and felt so glad your doing this. You have inspired me. I'm not poppular, skinny and tall like other girls my age they show in magazines. I'm the opeset. Short, average sized and geeky. I try and be positive about who I am but like every other 14 year old girl, I'm unsure on how I feel about my looks. After reading your posts and watching the tv special I can't help but admire you. You are very beautiful and I am so inspired by this blog. I just want to say thank you and to remember that you are very beautiful no matter what others say. Once again thank you for the inspiration!!!!

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  3. I too found your blog courtesy of the 20/20 segment. I was inspired by your story and your mission to teach positive body image. I must confess this particular installment cut me to the quick because it is a bit of a slap in the face on how I, despite my best intentions otherwise, have helped perpetuate the myth women are inherently valuable based on their falling into a specific size.
    As a plus-size woman, who has been plus-size my entire life, I carved out a particular niche for myself in romance fiction by writing "Rubenesque" romances. These star women of varying sizes, particularly larger sizes. One: I tend to "write what I know," but more importantly I felt this was an underrepresented group of women featured in the romance genre.

    I used to feast heavily at the buffet of writers like Danielle Steel until it occurred to me that not only were fat women not represented as heroines, fat was also used as a ginormous negative. The instance that stands out the most is when Ms. Steel tackled the serious nature of domestic abuse and felt the need to describe her heroine's reaction to an overweight victim as less than sympathetic because of her size/unattractiveness.

    As such I began writing to "even the score." I was sick of seeing all the stories on talk shows where overweight women were shaded in as lonely and pathetic and always yearning for a love they could never find unless they actually lost the weight. My "Real Woman" romances were written to prove that no matter what size you wear you can find love and romance, since this was my own personal experience.

    The reason I called them "real women" romances was because even though the average American woman is a size 12, our culture has this underlying (and sometimes quite overt) message that the true ideal is one of fiction. Models are photoshopped. Mannequins and Barbies are unrealistically skinny. Anytime you see a fat actress on the cover of a magazine is on a tabloid out to exploit her “misfortune” of being the worst thing any women in our media can be. We are continually force-fed this idea that the more digits you add to your dress size the more invaluable you become. Because of this you’ll find women like the one also featured on 20/20 willing to live off of a feeding tube just because her daughter (!) called her too fat.

    This plastic sense of perfection is making us fatter and unhealthier and certainly unhappier by the generation. These are mindsets are subtly an subconsciously reinforced that even those of us who have never been perfect nor will ever be a size 0 end up buying into The Big Lie.

    In 1996, when I tried to sell a romance featuring the same type of prototype I'd always read throughout the years, I was told by publishers that my heroine was "unrealistic." She was too perfect, too desirable. She wasn't a three dimensional person. I was unwittingly perpetuating the very same negative message I'd subconsciously accepted over the decades as an inevitable fact of life.

    Now my heroines are deeply faceted and as flawed and imperfect as anyone of us. This is what makes them "Real." I only mention weight if it pertains to the story, otherwise I leave that information ambiguous. I’ve found that whether my heroine is a size 4 or a size 10, she can still think, feel, reason, fight, cry and transform. (However I do tend to favor curvy heroines for my romances. I consider it a calling to give the average American woman a heroine who looks more like they do.)

    But thanks to this blog now I see that my usage of the term "Real" was just as exclusionary as the media message it was supposed to challenge. Imagine my chagrin! I'm in the process of changing that reference thanks to your very valid point.

    All women are beautiful because they are so much more than a dress size and a number on the scale. Thanks for the "mirror" that cautioned me against becoming the very thing I took up the mantel to fight. <3

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  4. I must say that I disagree with your complaints about the dove real beauty campaign. They are very clear that they use real because they want to show women- all women, as they truly are- not over-photoshopped or spray tanned, etc. And if you look for more advertisements associated with their campaign there are a wide variety of body types (also body colours- for Cynthia). It is about loving yourself as you are and feeling confident in your own skin.. I don't understand where you are getting the notion that Dove is calling these women "real" only if they are curvy, their ads feature as many thin women as they do large women (at least from my perspective) and tall women, short women, etc.

    I do agree that we are currently choosing to back one side of the puzzle and say that larger women are more real, and I think it is horrible. As a plus size woman I truly appreciate imagery supporting positive body image, but there is so much around where it seems as though larger women need to degrade smaller women just to feel that they themselves are beautiful.. The second image you posted would be a good example of this if it did not pull from the idea that the media is show casing extremely thin women as beautiful and excluding larger women from that image...

    In short, I agree with your feelings about how all women are beautiful and real women come in all shapes and sizes, but I can not agree on your criticism of the dove beauty campaign, and I feel that your criticism of the second photo is also lacking as it was intended as a commentary on the media, not on personal feeling.

    Much support for this project you undertook.

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  5. SO refreshing to read this. I have had people whisper comments about how grossly skinny I am, I get all sorts of comments like that behind my back, and it's not any less hurtful. I hate the pressure we ALL feel. Even skinny girls feel insecure about their lack of womanly curves. Your stance is such a breath of fresh air...thank you.

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    1. Second! Thank you, thank you, thank you to this blogger and this commenter for standing up for skinny women like me. I have hollows in my cheeks and see my ribs. That's the normal me, not the starved, crazy-working-out version (who doesn't exist, thank you very much!). And while I want women of all sizes to get the respect they deserve, I hate when they do it at the expense of women who are thin. And I get tired of the real women campaigns that make it seem like thin = neurotic, crazy, obsessed. I am the way I am via genes, three healthy meals a day and a moderate amount of exercise, not mental illness. For the record, I'd be thinner if I DIDN'T exercise. I'm not at the gym trying to lose weight.

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  6. I find your blog very inspiring. I have never been overweight, but I have also never been "skinny". I am average. I have always been average. I too wear a size 8. And a size 10. And at times a size 12. All depending on wear I shop. I have gotten to the point now that clothes sizes really do not matter. If it fits, I buy it. Then I cut out the tag so I really don't even remember the size. I have also come to the conclusion that I will never wear a bikini. And I am ok with that too. Thank you for your story and good luck.

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  7. First off I would like to say I'm sorry for all the mean, evil, hateful and negative comments that people have posted on your blogs. I would like to say that it's just because they themselves suffer from their own insecurities, but that is no excuse for their behavior. Second, I would like to tell you about a song that would fit you perfectly. I don't know what your religious stand point is and I don't want this to come across as me pushing my religion on to you, but the lyrics of this song fit perfectly to what you have gone through and the wonderful message you are trying to send to others that actually take the time to understand what you are doing. The name of the song is call "Beautiful" by MercyMe. I really hope that you continue to be strong and stand up for yourself and not let anyone tell you that you are any less than what you are... you are beautiful.. inside and out. No matter what anyone else says about you, always remember that.

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  8. your my hero. Im not overweight, Im underweight. And not by choice. With all of the medication I was on it didnt matter how much I ate, I lost weight, and more weight, and more. Most people I talked about it with said it was a blessing, but to me it was a curse. At 5 ft 4 I was 103 lbs in December of last year. The comments I would get about How boney I was, How tired I looked made me obsess everyday about how much I weighted and the way I looked. I thought people were staring at me, talking about me all the time. Thankfully I am no long on those meds and back to a healthy 126! I understand everything you are doing to make a ealthy lifestyle for yourself and Im so glad you have shared it with all of us. I don't think there is anything more important then for girls and women to feel sexy and comfortable in whatever skin their in!

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    1. Bravo! When we all begin to accept that we are complete in ourselves and put that message out there for the world, perhaps we can start to focus on truly important matters-hunger, justice, freedom, tolerance. You go girl!

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  9. Women are gorgeous, amazing creatures. This is something we understand about ourselves only in retrospect looking back. I was married and divorce, and am married again. In my youth I was everything the magazines said we should be, and I was miserable. After my divorce, I stopped taking care of my hair, gained 60 pounds, and according to society, was at my worst. I met and married the most amazing man, began to eat better foods, which brought the glow back to my skin (and my eyes). I began exercising, and am now a healthy, stacked, SIZE 12 bombshell. Men stop me on the street and women respond well to me. It's because I'm joyously happy and completely disinterested in their opinions. Kjerstin, you are beautiful and amazing, all the way to the bone. Good job.

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  10. I am really of you. Not that your idea will work for everyone, but it works for you. While I agree that no one should pressure woman into being a size zero. Zero is not a size. But I feel that it would be a bad idea too encourage woman to follow the growing trend of obesity. Don't get me wrong you are not obese and while 99% of woman are beautiful people, all people men and women should be encouraged to be healthy and happy. I would hope that people would be happy with who they are and simply strive for improvement everyday. I believe I am beautiful and that it is only my opinion that should matter, but I have been the anorexic and morbidly obese. I wasn't happy either way. I am somewhat happy now being just in the middle. I would like to see role models who teach young woman that zero isn't an appropriate size, but neither is 20. Image and health as well as self esteem have to be balanced. We go too far in one direction and then boomerang too far in the other. The woman I admire and I want my 3 daughters to admire aren't 12 pounds but they also aren't 312 pounds. I want my daughters to be content with who they are, but not be so unhealthy that they have trouble walking.

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  11. That first sentence was supposed to be I am really PROUD of you. Sorry for the misprint.

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  12. I have to say "way to go". So many people are judged on looks or speaking out. You are very brave for speaking your mind and hats off to you for sharing on 20/20. We need more people for the girls/women of the world to hear from. This world is cruel and tough at times and things aren't getting easier. Please keep expressing and reaching out to people. If they don't appreciate it they don't need to keep reading. That is why I don't understand the negative comments. "If you have nothing nice to say" then don't bother and move on. Isn't there enough negativity in the world without posting more hate to someone trying to make a positive impact for herself and others. Again thank you for sharing your experience.

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  13. I just saw your story, and I cannot tell you how much of an inspiration you are. I thought to myself, could I do this? And the truth is...I'm not quite sure. See, I'm 15, in high school, and well...you know how that can be.EVERYTHING revolves around image. Maybe I'll try it out? See if I can be as strong as you are. Believe me, you are Strong. Thank you so much for the inspiration.

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  14. Wow what an inspiration :) This really means alot to me being the plus size girl that I am ... I wish you the very best. You are beautiful inside and out !!!!

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  15. I just watched your interview with Robin Roberts. Your commitment to your plan is awe inspiring. Being healthy and happy is more important that having that stereotypical model body. I used to be a size one, then middle age bulge took over. I just call it my "pouch" and my husband says it is just more to love. I am healthy and very happy at age 57. That is what is important. Bravo to you for finding that contentment in yourself. If you can't live with your inside, you have a hard time accepting your outside. You are an amazing woman and don't forget that.

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  16. First of all i would like to say how inspiring you are to me. Literally i think i have had tears in my eyes just from watching your story, you are most definitely a great role model in my eyes. Secondly I think you are a beautiful woman who had no reason to be self conscious to begin with. Thirdly, (not that you are pluz size; you most definitely aren't) beging a plus size girl myself i know how hard it is to look at your self and find things to love. You have definitely given me a new way to look at myself and love myself. Thank you for that. I hope you continue in your endeavors with the populations self image! I know you can make a huge difference!

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  17. I became anorexic at 23, recovered 3 years later, but fought those negative, poisonous self messages for most of my life-since early childhood. Now, at 62, I've found my way out of the cycle-I like myself at last-just as I am. If your story can help other young women from wasting valuable time on worthless self loathing, you have truly made a worthwhile contribution. Best Wishes Always.

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  18. I don't think there is one woman in this world that can say they have never battled with their body image. Your story made me very emotional and excited for what I hope the future holds for a younger generation of women. Young girls today have to have strong, empowered women to be their models otherwise they are going to get sucked into the media craze of beauty.

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  19. I love this. Our problem is feeling the need to judge everything, instead of just accepting everything.

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  20. you are a great woman and a truly one.i think society needs a lot of woman like you.you are beautiful:)

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  21. i'm guy and i can confirm for you that some women are actually much hotter than others, but it is all based on the preference of who's watching. objectively, people are neither beautiful nor ugly, they just exist. to give someone the idea that he/she is nice looking is dependent on a whole slew a factors, but most of all on the superficiality of modern civilization. e.g. people should be valued based on skills exclusively, a statement that is just not true in today's society.
    anyhow, it's a great attitude you're having, but try not to get into the whole beauty/ugliness aspect too much.

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  22. I have to say, I've been a fan of the Dove campaign, but I did notice, in looking at the picture above, how white all the women appear. Is dark skin not part of their vision?

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