I’m sitting here perusing the “Awards Show Special” edition of People Magazine. (Okay, so I’m a tad behind in my magazine reading). How interesting it is to see the glitz and glamor; to applaud, or vilify, the various gowns worn by those women who serve as our role models in the “epitome of physical perfection” department. This issue of the magazine, along with numerous similar media pieces could be great fun if not for the hurtful stereotypes they proffer to the women and young girls who are ready to fall prey to their toxic messages.
The first things I notice, of course, are the beautiful, tall and svelte bodies that are stuffed into those fabric works of art. With nary a woman on these pages with a BMI under, hmm, 12, our body-obsessed culture is sending the message loud and clear that slim is the only way to be beautiful. This particular issue of People even has an article which details the all-liquid/starvation/bordering-on-anorexia diets adopted by many of the stars prior to their red carpet foray. Of course they can pour themselves into those skin-tight dresses; their bodies are now 98% liquid!
Yes, I know, there are women strutting down the red carpet who appear to have “real” bodies; women like Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis. But they are not the ones chosen to epitomize “beautiful” in the sections specifically devoted to the gowns, makeup, hairstyles and overall exquisiteness of the women who grace the awards spectacles.
And to add to that insult, when I came to the article dubbed “Glam at Every Age,” I soon discovered that the fashion guide-lines presented are for women in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties. Does that mean that, as a woman in her 60’s, there is no earthly way in which I can be “glam”? What a shame, for at this age I am now more comfortable in my skin, am more joyful and appreciative of every day of my life. These are the qualities that radiate out from within our souls and make us truly beautiful. Where in those magazine pages are Faye Dunaway, Goldie Hawn, Mia Farrow, Sigourney Weaver or Helen Mirren?
I am fortunate to spend much of my working life with women and teen girls as together we explore our own self-images, negate harmful stereotypes, and learn to embrace our individual and unique beauty. I am short of stature, long on years with hair of grey and a body that is not as slim or firm as it once was. Yet I hope to inspire others to recognize that there is still a beauty within me – as there is in all of us – that transcends height, weight and age. And in doing so, help to perpetuate a new definition of “glam”, one that will allow women of every size, and in every decade of life to be represented in the pages of our contemporary media.