There is no doubt that our society is image conscious. According to http://lovemybody.org, “One out of every four television commercials sends out some sort of message about attractiveness.”

Beyond that, look at how many makeover shows are flooding the airwaves. One that sticks out in my mind is “The Swan.” Season one launched in April 2004. On each episode, two “ugly ducklings” faced off to see who could achieve the best overall transformation, also known as, who looked the best after massive amounts of surgery.

As one would come to believe after watching this show, the only way these women were going to be beautiful was after a new nose, cheek lift, chin implants, brow lift, face lift, porcelain veneers, collagen injections for lips, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, liposuction and counseling from an unlicensed professional so that they would be able to readjust and find their new place in the world once they became beautiful. Why is it that society is so focused on plastic perfection as beauty?

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders Web site comments that “Many people in our cultureare concerned with how they look, what they weigh or how to change the body parts they don’t like. We can be great in a lot of things, but if our thighs are too big, well then, we are just not good enough.” How many of us can look in the mirror right now and honestly say that we are beautiful?

If all the statistics are true about anorexia, bulimia and plastic surgery, I would have to say too few see beauty in themselves – that is a shame. It is estimated that seven million women suffer from eating disorders. In 2004, eight million women underwent some form of cosmetic surgery. Think body image is only affecting women? Think again. One million men suffer from eating disorders and 1.2 million men underwent cosmetic surgery in 2004.

Whose ideal of beauty are we trying to attain? This unrealistic idealization is unattainable for most and, as clich as it sounds, we need to learn to celebrate our differences and find beauty in ourselves and others just as they are.

Love Your Body Day was recently started in 1999 by the National Organization of Women as an effort to voice the concerns of women that were, “fed up with the pressures to fit an ‘ideal,’ emaciated image which is unhealthy and unnatural for most women.”

This year, Women’s Caucus and Alpha Phi helped our campus celebrate Love Your Body Day on October 19. A table in Wilson Commons offered ribbons and tips for healthy eating, as well as information on how to conduct self examinations breast and testicular cancer. A large body cutout was provided for students and the community to sign, signifying their favorite part of their body and, upon completion, will be hung in Wilson Commons for all to see.

The definition of beauty does not involve any numbers. Recently, the Rochester community and those across the country were able to step off the scale, put away the measuring tape and love our bodies!

Smith can be reached at msmith@campustimes.org.



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