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Body Image? It’s in the code

June 30, 2010

This week the Australian government announced that it was going to back a voluntary ‘body image’ code that aims to encourage and support magazines and fashion retailers to adopt a healthy body image standard. The code is pushing for more diversity in body shape and ethnicity within the beauty industry and hopes to ban the use of dangerously thin models and that is all good. But will it help?

We have all been there, all felt rubbish after seeing impossibly good-looking girls and boys gracing the fashion pages with their legs up to their arm pits, their fab skin and their flat tummies. We have all felt inadequate and we have all agonised over these emotions. However, for most of us the realization that we do not fit the tight requirements of the modelling world is no big surprise, we had an inkling that was the case when our school friends told us that our hair was rubbish.  This shard of thought penetrated deeper when we didn’t get picked as the lead in the school play and the nail went into the coffin when our clothes hit double digits.  Our destiny is not in fashion modelling, we weren’t going to be princesses and live in a castle and we certainly couldn’t fly. 

Fairy stories 0, adulthood 1

But not everyone trod that path.  Many of us carry  emotional baggage that weighs more than those poor old models, models that are now ‘out of fashion’ and I am not sure that our load will lighten any with this news.

You see the problem with body image is that it is a projection of ones sense of self. If you feel vulnerable, fake, old, fat, skinny, tall, small, round, flat or just plain a ‘code’ will remain just that – rules that require translating, rules that need understanding and rules that don’t immediately fit.  What I mean is this,  the mindset of ‘self hate’ is not likely to dissipate just because it is harder to find pictures of skinny models. Yes you may find it less stressful to read a magazine or look at a billboard but that’s it. Your hunger for comparisons and your need to ‘measure up’ will most likely find another muse on which to focus its attention. Shape shifting! 

So it won’t work?

Well that’s not all wrong as we are affected at one level by the images we see and the culture that surrounds us so setting a more realistic and healthier bench-mark is a move in the right direction – especially for those within the modelling industry. However that alone will not solve our problem.

Positive body image does not come from without, it comes from within and self-esteem is best learned by doing, feeling and understanding in a deep and connected way.  Models in magazines, on runways and in adverts are just a veneer albeit a very one-dimensional one and you can’t learn about the heart by picking at the skin.  A code is a great start but let’s not sit back with a ‘job done’ smile on our faces. If we really want men and women to indulge in a bit of self-love we need to dig a bit deeper and when we do we will be able to enjoy beauty in all its forms without prejudice and without our baggage trolley.

Will the Barbie look go out of fashion?

68 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2010 12:12 am

    Well said! Furthermore, a code for models in adverts seems to place all the emphasis on the worry that people (read teen girls) will develop unhealthy body images to the skinny side while the stats on obesity are on the other side of the problem. Healthy/unhealthy can only be fixed on the inside, and I doubt that chubbier models will have much impact (though I think greater ethnic diversity is very important).

  2. June 30, 2010 1:10 am

    I wholeheartedly agree! I recently did a survey of females ages 18-50, almost all had low self-esteem, but most importantly, every single woman who took the survey wanted to change their body. It’s a shame that this is how it is, but I guess at least one government has good intentions. But yes, it is absolutely the sense of ‘inner-self’ that is required to change to make us all happier in our skin. Great blog 🙂

  3. June 30, 2010 1:16 am

    Awesome post!! 🙂
    You said it well. I totally agree with you.
    If they start using this ‘code’, it probably won’t help out too much. Low self-esteem is something that goes on on the inside. Just because they have this code now, people will still compare themselves to those same images that they did before. Most likely, they already have a set frame of ‘perfect’ in their heads, and from that point…it is pretty hard to convince them differently. But who knows? Maybe time will tell that this really could work…

    • June 30, 2010 11:57 am

      I put up a new post, recommending readers read this article. I linked the page and your site. ❤

  4. squirrelsloveacorns permalink
    June 30, 2010 1:19 am

    I enjoyed this article quite a bit. I was a babysitting for a family for 8 years, and they had a little girl. They never let her have barbies, or any doll that made her think that she had to look a certain way. I loved it! She now has “bratz” and other random dolls that are truly dumb looking but she’s now old enough that it isn’t really getting to her. For a while she didn’t wear nail polish, or be interested in make up until one of her other babysitters put it on her. I was a paled when she asked me why I don’t wear nail polish, or have a cell phone that took pictures. She was doing so well until she was influenced by another girl who made her think she had to do that stuff. I really wish that girls would get it out of their heads that make up, weight, and material items make you pretty.

    Thank you for this article!

  5. June 30, 2010 1:20 am

    This post is really well stated. I see things like this all the time and get upset. Good article!

  6. PeacockWings permalink
    June 30, 2010 1:25 am

    acturally I believe that chubbier model will have a great impact honestly. Because I suffered from eating disorders because I was a loyal fan in watching “America’s Next Top Model” and the problem with it would be I would see these very small girls and then their coach was telling them how they needed to get better in shape and lose MORE weight. I think that is sending a bad message out to girls. Girls believe that the skinnier the better, which isn’t true many models .. Even barbie kinda looks sickning ya know. But I believe that chubbier models should also have a chance because lets face it-we aren’t all size 0.

  7. June 30, 2010 1:36 am

    Thanks for bringing this up- I’ve no idea about the magazine code. So will it work like a points system? Whichever magazine uses more models with ethnic diversity, etc. has higher points? And how will the public access the information in a mag’s code? A person is beautiful when he or she is healthy, there is this fixed image that the thinner/ skinny population and it’s opposite- the chubbier population are both unhealthy but some people are just naturally that way. There is no normal weight. There is only an average. And the BMI is unreliable. I would use other words to describe the Body Mass Index if I could…

  8. June 30, 2010 1:46 am

    Agreed, well said! It was bad enough when only “perfect” people were portrayed in the media. Now, with computerized imaging, even those “perfect” specimins are airbrushed into oblivion. Our standards have become people who don’t exist in reality, only on the computer screen of some techie. And to complicate matters, food manufacturers (and the US government, in my case) continue to feed our children unhealthy, fattening food. As long as we perpetuate this schitzophrenic situation, young girls will struggle with positive self-image.

  9. June 30, 2010 1:47 am

    Dove had the Campaign for Real Beauty to address these issues – the Evolution vid really opens eyes to the problem

  10. June 30, 2010 1:50 am

    I think this is a great post and I do agree with you that for someone to embrace themselves, they need to love who they are as a person. I also think that by making these steps forward, by having more diversity in the media, it will help. I am a “plus” model, by definition, the term “plus” in the modeling world is any size over 6. Now, I have friends who are a size 2 and they are very healthy, but I am a size 1o and I am also a very healthy woman. Everyone is built differently and to have models in the magazines who are mostly sizes 0-2, I just think is wrong. What kind of example does that set for our children? But I do think that every little bit towards supporting diversity helps! We have a blog Check it out! We ask women what they love about themselves, we interview models, stay at home mothers, and women from all over the world to help promote healthy body image and self love.

  11. June 30, 2010 2:34 am

    my thoughts exactly when i saw it on the news
    i have suffered with low self esteem since i was pretty young , and the problems started from two places myself always comparing myself to others or just hating myself , and also from people around me eg brothers teasing which is bad when you have low self esteem,

    magazines did not start it , i had low self esteem way before i started reading magazines and i am sure a lot of others did too, sure they don’t help when you do get older and look at models but they aren’t the big issue

  12. June 30, 2010 2:36 am

    Body image and self-esteem do go hand and hand.

  13. June 30, 2010 2:39 am

    I really like what the Australian government is doing. I believe that promoting a healthier body image will help alleviate some of the issues dealing with weight and body images.

  14. June 30, 2010 2:44 am

    At the end of the day, we cant worry about others regulations, codes, and the other. We are the people must take back out minds and stop beind duped by those who have never had our best intrest in mind, only their bottom-green lines. When will we stop believing their lies and start believing in our own truths. Parents play a huge role in this modality, and if it means turning of the television,or keeping certain magazines out of our homes then so be it. We are charged with raising our children, not Disney, Cover-girl,Cosmo, or Glamour! Until our children can fend for themselves, armed with our love, nurturing and positive education and make clear decisions on what is best for them, we must protect them like Lions! Its so sad that in 2010 when seemingly we have it all together, its the cracks in our self-esteem armour that continues to bring us down, and devestate us. Focus on the inside! Stand in your SKIN! Realize that God made you perfect, and last time I checked….he was the master of some of the best creations on this Earth, so why not YOU TOO!!???

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      April 10, 2011 9:20 pm

      Dear Souls Journey,
      I would like to talk to you about featuring this comment in a book that I am writing. Could you contact me with an e-mail address so that I can send you more details please?

  15. June 30, 2010 2:54 am

    Interesting article. I am, however, glad that the body image code is ‘voluntary’. I fully agree that constantly pushing unrealistic and border-line unatainable bodies in magazines etc. is abhorrant but, at the same time, any state control of the media is an even bigger evil.

  16. June 30, 2010 4:21 am

    Nice post. It’s true, we’ll find something else to compare ourselves against.

  17. June 30, 2010 4:30 am

    Well said. A topic I feel passionate about (as do many women). I blogged about it today as well – calling it “Wasted Beauty” (

  18. moriahbethany permalink
    June 30, 2010 4:32 am

    Sure, we should expand our ideas about what beauty looks like. But more importantly than that, we should be teaching our kids not to focus on that stuff. Give your kids complements that focus on their talents and their minds. My parents raised me to believe that I could do anything I put my mind too, they helped me to focus on myself from the inside, that your personality and gifts that you have to offer are the most important thing. I look at girls in magazines whose whole world is built around what they look like and I feel a little sorry for them. Teach your daughters to be smart and independent and maybe they will be able to look at a picture of someone like Kate Moss and appreciate her beauty without feeling like they need to focus on their own physical flaws because of it. The deeper desire is to be loved, and the best way to be loved is to love yourself from the inside and find someone who is the same way.

  19. lawyergal permalink
    June 30, 2010 4:33 am

    I think policy-makers have a lot more issues in obesity than distorted body images. Obesity makes insurance sky-rocket, and is arguably an expense that could be lessened by a healthier lifestyle.

    I do, however, wonder why magazines and such sport thin models when it really does not mimic everyday women.

  20. June 30, 2010 6:47 am

    I’m grateful to have found this blog on the WP home page. I know the frustration and misunderstanding that magazines bring to its readers! Many study the tips and tricks and think they’ll become the model on the page simply by following their routine. It took me many confusing years to see that I was average, and that average was ok.

    I agree that this code is a great start and that we’ll always want for comparisons, whether or not they have to do with physical attributes. Blog on, I’m anxious to read more!

  21. June 30, 2010 7:14 am

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  22. June 30, 2010 7:45 am

    Great stuff! I think that the highly overlooked and underreported side of this (beauty) debate is how the models feel. I won’t use names because really, we’re dealing with archetypes, but anyhow. . . Model X is in the news because of how ‘great’ she looks (at least to “popular” opinion). As a result of this, she then feels pressure to continue to look like “this,” even though it’s not something she feels is the best thing for her. People tell her she might be gaining a few pounds and we’ll see pictures that are “unflattering.” Slowly but surely, this begins to contribute to Model X’s lack of self-esteem and before we know it, she’s gained 30 pounds and there are articles out there saying that she looks like a ‘whale,’ and ‘oh no, what happened to Model X!?’


    My point is that it’s not even that the models and celebrities are driving this unhealthy image, but they, too, are slaves to it (if they choose to be).

    With Love and Gratitude,

    The Intentional Sage

  23. June 30, 2010 8:02 am

    So many women, of every size, age, and ethnicity, needs to read this and take it to heart. I think the fashion designers enjoy playing upon our insecurities, as it adds to their wealth. The thoughts of, ‘Oh, if I buy that shirt, I’ll look like the Victoria’s Secret model wearing it and I’ll be happy,’ play through our minds and every designer knows it. I’m proud of the Australian govt. for encouraging healthier models and hope other countries will follow, but won’t hold my breath.

  24. June 30, 2010 8:47 am


  25. June 30, 2010 9:01 am

    I think that women of all sizes (who take care of themselves) should be considered in the modelling industry, as it shows girls they are capable of being pretty in different shapes and sizes. Although it doesn’t help the HEALTHY decision for things…it does help induce the beauty thoughts that girls CAN be, and ARE, pretty no matter what.
    Girls should be supported in their looks, as long as it is healthy. A girl who is thicker (naturally) is never going to be skinny because her body is meant to be a certain way. Enforcing beauty at a certain size is uncalled for when they cannot meet those standards, no matter how hard they try.
    Everyone is built differently and showing that versatility as beauty is a wonderful thing.

  26. June 30, 2010 9:12 am

    “Positive body image does not come from without, it comes from within”

    I couldn’t agree more. The code is very interesting and I will be following up to see how it plays out.

  27. blackwatertown permalink
    June 30, 2010 10:10 am

    I know such government action may seem tokenistic and a pointless waste of money. And to some extent that is true.
    However, anything that nudges designers towards making clothes to look good on normal sized women is welcome.
    Designers say they prefer the stick women because clothes hang better on them. Well, work harder at your craft. Design clothes for the real world.

  28. June 30, 2010 10:51 am

    Just love your selves because God makes no mistakes

  29. June 30, 2010 11:24 am

    People do need to love themselves! It will help to have different people to look up to! Government interference IS NEVER the answer! TOO much Gov’t is BAD! People themselves should realize an unrealistic body image is ridiculous and I believe are beginning to! Models who are TOO skinny and either flat chested like the 70’s or too busty like now are crazy it’s just not realistic and mothers and fathers need to tell children that is not how REAL people look. The Fashion Industry NEEDS to STOP designing clothes for people who DO NOT EXIST!! Models NEED TO EAT!!!!

  30. June 30, 2010 11:36 am

    Good health is the most important goal for the body. There is nothing wrong with skinny bodies, or any other natural size/shape/form, unless good health was sacrificed in the process.
    One day we might realize that we are not our bodies.
    Great post.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      June 30, 2010 11:49 am

      Hello everyone,

      It has been fantastic to read all of your comments as it shows just how many enlightened and empowered men and women we have out there! The idea that we are NOT our bodies is very powerful and it is encouraging to see so many of you embracing that. When our minds and bodies are healthy we can see photoshop, barbie and fashion for what they are – toys for our pleasure, not for our pain. It is not a crime to want to look good but it is a crime to be lied to and cheated. This code goes a little way to fixing that.
      Love your work people!


  31. June 30, 2010 11:57 am

    hiya 🙂

    i think the biggest problem is body dysmorphia – women see themselves as ugly (and fat/imperfect) when they look great. I have known models (including Miss World finalists) who were not carrying an ounce of fat, who used to whine incessantly about how gross and fat they were. Often, it was men telling them they were fat/ugly/needed surgery. (I also got to know a bunch of manipulative Svengali boyfriend types, that so many of these women with low self-esteem seemed to sport like the latest designer handbag – though women can be as critical).

    I saw a Hahn beer ad (in print), which hasn’t been repeated – perhaps not as well-received as their others – a short fat hairy man in Y fronts, and a beautiful lithe woman in nice undies, are looking into the mirror. We see what they see…. the woman sees a dumpy unattractive woman. The man sees a hot bloke with a washboard stomach. And there, i think, is the rub.

    Until quite recently, men were left alone – now the beauty myth is beginning to bite there too, with the pressure to be metrosexual. Men are starting to get the same body issues and eating disorders, are starting to have the same plastic surgery. Women have been suckers to the beauty industry – now men are going the same way.

    As you say, until we ALL learn to love ourselves, this isn’t going to stop, no matter what the government legislates – though i do think it’s a step in the right direction – i’m sick of anorexia aka size zero being promoted as something to aspire to.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      June 30, 2010 11:54 pm

      Can’t beat beer ad philosophy. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  32. June 30, 2010 12:13 pm

    “What I mean is this, the mindset of ‘self hate’ is not likely to dissipate just because it is harder to find pictures of skinny models. ”

    I would think the idea behind the code is to make it harder for such mindsets to nest in a young person’s mind. We’re, unfortunately, already scarred. But do our children have to share this outcome?

    I”m usually not big on adding more rules to the world, but just wondering if the industries that perpetuate the stereotypes shouldn’t be held a little responsible about the consequences. It’s the opposite of the medical industry, they knowingly make money off of our displeasure.

  33. June 30, 2010 1:23 pm

    Great post. Discussion is always great. Self acceptance is the goal and while a code is not going to solve the problem on its own… it certainly has opened up a dialogue. And that is a start.

  34. June 30, 2010 2:01 pm

    I absolutely disagree.

    The “industries”–or, to put it more directly, the businesses–which “perpetuate” these stereotypes are, indeed, businesses. Their goal is a noble one: to make money.

    The “consequences” result from people’s idealized sense of beauty, and from their pursuit of that beauty. They don’t result directly from the businesses. In the end, it is the women’s (/men’s) decision to conform to that “ideal” or not.

    These businesses are not exploiting the women. They are merely using models–who participate of their own free will, I might add–to sell their product. The women (/men), not the businesses, are ultimately responsible.

    Any government’s attempt to prevent these businesses from such an action, whether noble in purpose or not, is excessive, unwarranted, and overbearing.

    (That said, I respect your statements and your opinion. It’s clear that many people agree with you, too.)

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      June 30, 2010 2:28 pm

      Thanks for the thoughts. It is true that these businesses are out to make money but one has a choice of how that money is to be made. A business or an industry can be built on fear – ‘if you don’t have this then you are not complete’ or it can be built on love ‘you love your body, you may like to celebrate it like this. I have not yet given up on the latter being realized. Very interesting and always good to be challenged.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      April 10, 2011 9:47 pm

      I would like to discuss with you the possibility of featuring your comments in a book that I am writing. Would you be able to e-mail me so that I can send more info by return e-mail? Thanks

  35. June 30, 2010 3:47 pm

    I love the blog and i onlyfind myself asking where does these products come from and then I realize we can only expect this to happen…………HOW CAN THESE GIRLS NOT HAVE BODY IMAGE ISSUES WITH THE AVAILABILTY OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN THE COMPETETION IS RIDICULOUS!

  36. lookingforsomethingtofind permalink
    June 30, 2010 4:21 pm

    Men will always find beautiful women beautiful, women will always find handsome man handsome. Fit looks better than fat, it always will, our brains are hard wired to have certain preferences. We will always show a preference for the good looking. The media cannot change that, it is a reflection of what we want. Having posters of average girls up, doesn’t make average better. People will still have to choose, if they are ugly, and yes there are ugly people, we all know this, to better their inner-selvs, and compensate, and find someone who cares more about what is inside.

    Also the biggest myth in dating, is that you have to be good looking to date good looking people, wit and charm, can make that big of a difference. I know guys uglier than me, who date better looking women than me, I know guys better looking, who aren’t as good with women. I am sure it is the same for ladies, I have fallen for women less attractive, over more attractive ones and visa versa.

    Great looking people, have other traits too, I have been with great looking women primarily for their personalties, and found myself not paying attention to their face or body, but their words.. It is unfair, that some people are better looking, sexier, but so is life, it takes more to succeed if you are not attractive. Attractive people have their own problems, either way there are pros and cons. Deal with it, do what you can, and be the best person you can be. Exercise, read, go out, move on.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      April 10, 2011 9:49 pm

      Hi there, I would like to speak to you about using this comment in a book that I am publishing later this year. Would you be able to contact me via e-mail so that I can send you more information:

  37. June 30, 2010 5:06 pm

    Its is absolutely true that positive body image is greatly influenced by self esteem. The confidence you have within your self is the confidence others see in you! That being said, you demonstrate positive body image when you show your inner-confidence.

  38. June 30, 2010 5:26 pm

    The core problem is that both these magazines and women tend to have a distorted view of what men find attractive: Yes, there are many men who want very thin women—but there are also many men who prefer slightly thing women, average size women, or chubby women. There are even some who like fat women. In general, healthy and sporty goes far longer than thin, and women with a bit of muscle tend to have the better figures, while those who are thin are thin in the wrong places while still having problem areas. Want to be attractive to men? Skip the diet and take up sports! (And not just endurance, fat-burning, whatnot, but something that actually builds up the body.)

    • lookingforsomethingtofind permalink
      July 1, 2010 9:17 am

      100 percent true, I never liked the arms you see on models, that have no muscle on them what so ever. Most guys I know would agree with that. Also while have personally never been attracted to curvier figures, I am the minority in this amongst my male friends. Healthy does equal attractive.

  39. sayitinasong permalink
    June 30, 2010 5:33 pm

    Yes! You so eloquently wrote exactly what I have been thinking and have not been able to put into words- sense of self translate directly to what you are. You change that- and you change yourself. I have always been one of those girls and now women, who has had such a difficult journey to accept who I am. That I am not a size zero and never will be. And I am still struggling, even though I am in my fourties….

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      June 30, 2010 6:28 pm

      Thanks for your sweet comments. Being comfortable in your body is not always easy – just when you think you’ve got it, things change, you get tired or sick, a new wrinkle or a bit wobblier and you have to fall in love all over again. That is until you find a way to love what’s underneath. Be kind to yourself, be your friend.

  40. June 30, 2010 7:46 pm

    A propos of your comments, I’m also an Aussie and was listening to an interview on the radio with a magazine editor who admitted that it’s not just the models who are ‘digitally enhanced’.
    She said every single image in the magazine is …
    Which leads me to wonder how these perfect pictures affect our expectations of, well, everything?

    Great post …

  41. Marjie permalink
    June 30, 2010 11:46 pm

    Perhaps what the Australian Government is actually aiming for is truth in advertising. Why should the “anti-ageing” skin care industry be allowed to misrepresent what their products will actually do for the vast majority of people? Why should the hair care industry be able to misrepresent what my hair will look like if I use a particular brand of shampoo? Why should the fashion industry use models who don’t represent what the clothes will actually look like on most people? Why should any industry be allowed to disciminate against the natural process of ageing?

  42. soratothamax permalink
    July 1, 2010 12:40 am

    We definitely have to get to the root of the problem. Where does the hate come from? Is it rejection from others? Other people can make one feel bad about themselves. Teens like to try to ask one another out, but sadly in such a superficial world, people choose what they feel “looks good” rather than how much they know the person and how nice the person is. I’m not saying just with body, but who wears the nicest clothes and has their hair done the best or the cleanest shaven…things of that nature.

    All of these lower people’s self-esteem. Other people can bring you down, especially people you have a crush on or love. But the root as to why people are so superficial is a hard root to uplift.

  43. July 1, 2010 1:29 am

    you wrote: “…you can’t learn about the heart by picking at the skin. ”

    Well put.

  44. July 1, 2010 3:56 am

    I love that they have done this.

    It makes life a bit more livable, not only for teenage girls with self esteem and body perception issues, but for the adults that have been beaten by these types of editing in their teenage years and grown up feeling self conscious.

    I know I’ll never look like the guys in the magazines.

    But I also know I don’t have people deleting parts of my body.

    You want to love me, love the whole of me.

    x Action Wolfe

  45. July 1, 2010 6:20 am

    I agree that using healthier, more realistic models are a step in the right direction but I would still be concerned with the notion of setting a standard. I’m curious to know this “code” plays out and how the industry will “diversify” the models’ shape and looks. This post reminded of when Jennifer Lopez’ butt became the fashionable body type, curvy. Women everywhere were so happy our society was beginning to aspire to realistic standards but it was still a standard and not all women are that curvy either. You’re right, it’s about working within.

  46. July 2, 2010 7:40 pm

    Body image has always been an issue for me since my mother always told me I was fat since I was young when I wasn’t. The idea of my imperfect body has been etched so deep into my mind that I have to live with it for the rest of my life. This has caused me a lot of grief and lead me into a vicious cycle of eating disorders. Although, I should have learned by now that as long as I am healthy, I shouldn’t worry too much or feel bad about how bulges appear where they didn’t used to.

  47. 1sttime2010 permalink
    July 13, 2010 9:27 pm

    It’s true that it comes from within, but that within is also shaped by what’s outside. I hope that this body code doesn’t just create another system of regulation for women’s bodies.

  48. July 18, 2010 12:11 pm

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    4 – Last but not least, while using a lipstick, you should always make sure to apply correctly so not to get lipstick on her teeth. Always use a lip pencil to outline lips. Even if you put lipstick, start the application from the center of the upper lip and move outward toward a corner and repeat the same procedure for the lower lip too.
    Therefore, make sure before wasting your money on expensive makeup end, test your knowledge about the basic steps of applying makeup to develop. If you are not satisfied with this advice, then I suggest you find a makeup artist if she would be able to explain a number of other recommendations as well on apply make up.

  49. July 24, 2010 2:05 pm

    Here’s an interesting thing to ask yourself: have you ever been complimented for gaining weight? In our society we just keep on having this push to lose weight, we get positive reinforcement when we lose weight but extremely negative if we gain it back. If we gain weight we are lazy, irresposible, and we don’t care about ourselves. If we lose weight we are hard working and it’s seen as a positive. I don’t know if the Barbie look will ever go out of style because women will always have a hard time accepting our bodies and being happy with who we are without changing ourselves.

    • July 26, 2010 8:11 pm

      While that is a good point from the POV of how we internalize what is a good thing and what is a bad thing, it is also somewhat misleading: The reason that weight-loss is complimented, while weight-gain is not, is to a large part that most of us could stand to lose some fat (for long-term health reasons, if nothing else)—and those who actually would benefit from gaining weight are usually people who have tried very hard to become that thin (which implies that they will tend to react very negatively to a compliment about weight gain). Similarly, weight-loss is often deliberate, while weight-gain is usually accidental, and it makes sense to compliment successful efforts, rather than accidental developments.

      Notably, I have seen a number of entries like this one on fmylife: Woman makes giant successful effort to lose weight—and finds that people find her less attractive than before. The last sentence about the boyfriend is atypical, but considering the extreme weight-loss, it need not mean anything: He may well have had his mind on set on a fraction of the actual number. By analogy, if a man likes his steak well-done, he can still dislike steaks that have been on the grill for half-an-hour—and this is exactly the point where so many women go wrong.


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