Shocking Bodies? Body Image and The Press

Today's post was all scheduled to be a light hearted look at the year that's gone, but yesterday a tweet by Lili la Scala  made me write this instead. I can honestly say I never thought I'd be sharing some of these moments with the world, but this story has made me want to push myself out of my comfort zone. Right out of it....

I'm tired of walking past magazines and seeing 'papped' images of women (and men) who are exercising in the park, messing around on the beach or doing an activity where they are actually just going about their business. 

How many of us would want to be photographed running down the beach and then have those motion shots splashed all over the press? A Now Magazine  cover this month promised 21 'shocking' bodies that will 'make you feel normal'

Thank you Now Magazine, thank you for this, don't we all feel better now? Thank god I'm 'normal' in your eyes, what shocking images indeed! .....Oh but hang on.......maybe I actually relate more to some of these women you've added to the shocking body list than the 'normal' you speak of? Whatever that definition of normal actually is....

Maybe you're reading this and think you do too? Does it make you feel good to know that someone has effectively pointed the finger at many of us and basically told us our bodies are 'shocking'?..... As shocking as the bodies on this cover which are so disgusting, that ridicule is actively encouraged? 

I could ask for some clarification on what is normal? However I think the question should be - What is the real shocker here? 

Is it the bodies on the cover or is it the attitude of this magazine?

We're too fat, we're too thin, we're not toned enough, we're too toned, there's no thigh gap, omg there's too much thigh gap! Our rears are too big, too small, to flat, too saggy and then there's the constant 'exposing' of stars with cellulite and stretch marks. 

Now I'm not going to lie, I've seen the photos of celebrities with stretch marks and have felt almost relieved that they have them too. 

Yes I said 'they have them too' ........I have them......... Something I feel completely uncomfortable saying. I still don't accept them as part of me even though there's some I've had more than half my life. I've known them longer than the I did the smooth skin they invaded. I high five any woman or man who has a positive relationship with theirs, but I don't like mine. I don't see them as 'stripes' I've 'earned'. I wish I could be that positive about them, but I can't. 

 I hope this confession of dislike for my own stretch marks isn't received with negativity. This how I feel about mine, and I don't think I'm alone on this but I repeat I high five any woman or man that has them and has a positive relationship with theirs, be that a sense of acceptance or even appreciation of what their body is capable of. They might not even be a big deal to you, your hang ups may lay with other body parts, but these are mine.

But although part of me may feel a slight sense of relief when a celebrity seems to have skin that can't stretch whilst maintaining flawless perfection, I don't think it's right that the press 'outs' these people. If someone wants to talk about their body (as I am now) or they want to pose those scars or dimples to the camera then that's up to them, yes? Do we need the paper to point out in a picture that Lady Gaga has stretch marks on her breasts with implied gasps and shock? All that does is give society a totally unrealistic view of what bodies 'should' look like. 

I was once out with a friend and a man commented about stretch marks on her breasts, yes he was a total pig and he has probably forgotten ever making that comment at all, but that will stay with her forever. A waiter on holiday once commented on some stretch marks on my hips. I'd just told him I wasn't interested in him and this was his reaction to rejection. 

Again, he probably got a 100 knock backs that season. He won't remember me at all. But I remember him, and the heavy, pounding feeling behind my eyes as I refused to give in to tears and shock whilst hoping the ground would open up and swallow me - I was young too, too young to call him out. If someone said that to me now, I really don't know how I'd react! 

Don't get me wrong there's other parts of me I'm more than fine with,  but there are certainly areas I dislike and I wouldn't want a magazine editor, or anyone else for that matter deciding it's their duty or right to label my body 'shocking' for public mockery.

Now I don't want to go too far down the whole airbrushing road - most people who use instagram will add a filter, including me, and that's really a form of airbrushing, but that's a different post....... But it's not fair for these magazines to spread such body hate with a feature like this because those are human beings on the cover. They are made of flesh, they are REAL people regardless of whether they have fame to their name. 

Feeling that you have imperfections is one thing, but having someone point them out in public is a totally different matter. Hating on yourself is bad enough, to be hated on and to actively see others encouraged to hate on you is even worse. 

What's shocking and what's ugly? Well let me tell you what I think is shocking and ugly. This magazine.

To the Now Magazine Editor - I invite you to explain why you think this feature is acceptable?  

I'm not for censorship of the press, but this has got to be tackled, if that means talking with your purses then do it. Don't buy the magazine and go tweet and Facebook about how you feel about this too. Use what ever platforms you have to be heard, even if that means writing a good old fashioned letter! 2014 could be the start of something more positive when it comes to body image and the press. 

This is NOT a 'real women have curves' story. This is a 'real women have a heart and a vagina story'. There's beauty in diversity and it matters not whether you have curves or are straight up and down, we do not deserve to be ridiculed because we don't fit a magazine editors idea of 'normal'.

To those those who feel all this is just giving Now Magazine more publicity and that all publicity is good publicity I have four words for you...

News of the World


  1. I was enraged by another magazine earlier in the year, I find it shocking how much focus is put on image rather than health. My really big annoyance is when certain magazines run stories where someone is suffering from anorexia, mention how they're only eating 1200 calories a day yet will suggest a diet with the same amount of calories. I'm all for health and fitness, I started losing weight the sensible but slow way after gaining during illness, and after suffering from anorexia myself it made me realise how ridiculous a lot of these publications are. I think all that these magazines do is embarrass others and make women ashamed of their own bodies. These days I tend to avoid magazines that run ridiculous stories about celebrity weight gain/loss, or those that try to push faddy diets.

  2. I think these bodies are absolutely normal, nothing wrong with them at all. I get really tired of these magazines and websites that bash how we people look. I think if others didn't buy them or look at them and just reported them more, maybe they'd be forced to shut down, but we need to fight back to them, because it isn't. One minute they say skinny is in and then it's out, other times curvy is in and then it's out and then they criticize you for being one of those things. They need to be banned, it's cruel and disgusting and why should someone make money off of tearing someone else down. We need to love and accept ourselves as we are, not some size society thinks we should be. Happy New Year doll xx

  3. When are we going to start building each other up instead of tearing each other down? I find it very sad seeing others mock others especially over appearances, I find it even sadder when it's women doing it to women - we should have each others backs, we should look out for each other - the world is a cruel enough place as it is without being nasty, spiteful and bullying.
    Great post by the way. x

  4. I was guilty of buying these magazines for years, however I haven't read/brought one since leaving my job in April. They're hatful magazine that have nothing nice to say….. so I don't know who Jordan is married to now but hey I survived!

  5. When it comes down to it, this sort of 'journalism' (and I use the term loosely) is nothing but plain old bullying. It's not freedom of the press, it's playground style name calling.

  6. God I hate magazines like this, especially when these articles are written about other women hiding behind their computer screens!

  7. I wonder what the people who write these articles look like. I bet they aren't perfect and have stretch marks and wobbly bits.


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