If you’ve ever done a glamour photo shoot you will have some idea of the real power of professional make-up, hair styling, lighting and photography. With a team of experts transforming us it can be hard to recognise the person in the mirror afterwards. When it comes to women in magazines, many of us mere mortals compare ourselves to these images as if they are some sort of beauty ideal, but how attainable are these looks? If you’re lucky enough to have a team of beauty professionals following you around everyday you might have a small chance of looking like you just stepped out of a magazine, but what about the post photoshoot editing? The airbrushing to get rid of flaws, the resizing of the waist, the enlarging of the, ahem, ‘assets’? Unless you’ve got a wizard to follow you around as well, you’re probably out of luck!
Whether you’re an avid magazine reader or not, these images of beauty are pervasive in our society – on TV, in advertising and on billboards, so unless you make an effort to question how realistic these images are you are probably being affected by them subconsciously at least to some degree. As a dietitian I come across many people who have unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of what they feel they “should” look like. This breaks my heart. We are all individuals and we aren’t all made to be the same shape or size. A healthy weight for one person may be very different to a healthy weight for someone else.
Beauty is not a number, it’s not a certain dress size or a particular BMI range. Beauty comes from the inside. It is confidence in your own body. It is health glowing out of your pores. And it is a loving, inclusive, nurturing attitude. I think it’s high time we stopped placing so much importance on outer beauty (especially the fake stuff we see in magazines) and started looking at the bigger picture. It’s time we stopped comparing ourselves to others and started focusing on ourselves and what we can do to be healthier in our own skin.
Don’t get me wrong – if you are overweight you can reduce your risk of many health conditions by losing some weight, but I think it is important to have realistic expectations from the start and for your motivation to come from within rather than externally. You need to want to lose weight for yourself – to be more comfortable or be able to do more of what you want to do, rather than wanting to get to that idealistic view of beauty. Because if you’re chasing that, you’re going to be chasing a mirage.
This week is Australia’s Healthy Weight Week, an initiative of the Dietitians Association of Australia. Throughout the rest of this week I will be focusing on how you can go about being healthier and getting to a healthier weight, without getting bogged down by the number on your scales. Come back tomorrow to read my post on what ‘healthy weight’ means.
Original image of woman courtesy of stockimages on FreeDigitalPhotos.net