For Anyone Who Feels Misrepresented In Mainstream Media... | Emily Bashforth

For Anyone Who Feels Misrepresented In Mainstream Media...



The media is a powerful, influential, remarkable tool which has advanced drastically over the past few years thanks to technological developments in the form of things like smart phones and social media, and thanks to social attitudes changing and becoming more accepting.However, despite the wonderful ways in which our society has evolved and despite the fact that the media has had such a positive impact on the way we live our lives, I don’t think any of us can deny the fact that there is a dark side to everything we see advertised in the media.

I know there are always exceptions but I am sure you will agree with me when I say that pretty much all of the models we see up on billboards, on our TV screens and on magazine covers look a certain way. The models we see walking on runways all look a certain way as they display the clothing people who look nothing like them shall be wearing next season. The models who have millions of followers on Instagram and who are hired by the world’s biggest brands all. Look. A. certain. Way. And there is nothing wrong with the way these models look, but do you not think it sad that when I said “They all look a certain way,” you all knew exactly what I was talking about? I can guarantee that a particular image popped into your mind instantly, particular models popped into your mind instantly. It is no secret that the vast majority of models we see fronting huge campaigns are selected for their jobs because they fit a certain mould. With women, they are slim, tall, they have blemish and acne free complexions, typically they have healthy looking hair, they have straight teeth, perfected eyebrows, sometimes thigh gaps, a figure that they work so hard to achieve it almost kills them. With men, they are muscular, but not too muscular, they have abs, big biceps, perfectly coiffed hair, sparkling eyes, once again, straight teeth and perfect complexions, they all dress a certain way, they don’t try to be weird or stick out, they are presented as cool and what we should aspire to be. These people are all presented as perfect. And I am by no means suggesting that there is anything wrong with the way these people look. I couldn’t tell you how many times I look at people like Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Joan Smalls in magazines and think “GOD I WISH I LOOKED LIKE HER.” I think “Why aren’t my legs as thin as hers?” “Why isn’t my waist as small as hers?” “Why isn’t my skin as flawless as hers?” “Why isn’t my tummy as nice as hers?” and if I was male, I would undoubtedly be jealous of the appearance of all the male models which I see posing on posters in shop windows. I don’t want to say that the models who we all know and love don’t deserve their positions, because I don’t believe that. I don’t want to say that they aren’t beautiful, because they are. There is nothing wrong with the way they look, nor should they be made to feel as though there is. These people are brilliant role models and do exceptional jobs of representing the people who have similar appearances to them. They are great ambassadors for those in society who have the features they do. They are perfect. However, there is not just one definition of perfect and I hate the world we live in each day for the fact that we have been convinced that there is. Those models are perfect, but so is every other living person on this planet. Not everyone fits into the moulds crafted by the biggest names in beauty and fashion that they do, and that’s okay, and I wanted to write this blog post for the people who do not look like the models being portrayed as perfection.

Our world is filled with so much beauty. There are so many skin colours, nationalities, religions, body sizes, hair colours, eye colours, no two people look identical, even when it comes to identical twins, you will always find on slight dissimilarity, whether it be an extra freckle or a birthmark. I love living in a world which is filled with so much diversity but it saddens my heart that there are people feeling like they aren’t good enough because they don’t look like the people in the modelling industry. It just seems so wrong to me that people are going about their lives, hating how they look, because someone their shape or size isn’t plastered over the cover of Vogue. We have come so far in such a short space of time and I understand that the representation of minorities in the media has improved. Women and men of skin colours, weights, heights and races who wouldn’t even be considered to be models a few years ago, have finally been given their big break but there is still a long way to go. There are marginalised communities who feel misrepresented in the media every damn day, so if you are part of one of those marginalised communities who do not fit into the mould created by the big shots, this is for you:

You are enough. Just because someone with your physical features is not walking the catwalk, that doesn’t mean you are not enough. Those people who you see all over social media and all over your TV screens are beautiful and they deserve to have their beauty celebrated but their beauty is not in the absence of your own and, just because they are praised for looking the way that they do, that doesn’t mean you should not be. They are not the only definition of perfect and I want you to get the idea that they are out of your head right now. Yes, we should admire them and yes we should look at those models on those billboards and think “Wow, they are stunning,” but we should not allow them to take anything away from us and we should not allow them to make us question our self-worth. I do not look like any of those girls who I see every time I open up Instagram and I probably never will. It breaks my heart that I do not look like them and I suffer every day because off it. I wake up each morning wishing I had skinnier legs, a flatter stomach, whiter teeth, better eyebrows, a spot free face and a smaller waist – I know a lot of you do too – and that is sad because millions of people would not think this way had one set body type been so glorified in the media for so long. The models up on those billboards have, a lot of the time, next to killed themselves to be there. They’ve dieted, had surgery, and stopped doing things they loved because they know that the only way to get on those billboards and the only way to be accepted by the people in power is to slot into their ideal little moulds. And people who, realistically, will never fit into those moulds are killing themselves too, as we speak, because they think the only way to be happy, the only way to succeed, the only way to be loved, the only way to earn money, the only way to fit into society and be worth something is to either be a tall, slim female or a muscular, toned man. That is wrong because we can all be accepted, regardless of whatever we look like.

If you do not look anything like those people who we call ‘models,’ then you should know that that is okay. If women of your weight are not on magazine covers, if men of your height are not being photographed for designer brands, if people of your religion are not verified on Instagram, if people of your sexuality are not starring in commercials, I can only apologise on behalf of the people in charge of such a corrupt modelling industry and I can only pray that you will be represented in the way that you deserve some day but, until you are, you should remember that you deserve to be on a billboard just as much as the people who are already there do. If you want to be a model, there is no reason why you should not be and I encourage you to keep pushing and pushing until you are given the recognition you deserve. No matter how many times you are turned away from castings because you are not the size, shape, skin colour, whatever they want, if you allow them to defeat you, then they win. We have to keep working for change in the media and the only people who can bring about change are the people who want it. The big bosses, they are fine how they are. They rake in millions each year casting the same people with the same looks, but you should challenge them and make them see that there is more to society than slim girls and ripped guys. Or, if you don’t want to be a model, that’s fine too, but you should still refuse to accept that those who are models are the only ones worthy of self-love and respect. It is easier said than done but, with baby steps, you can come to realise that you do not have to look like those men and women in the adverts in order to get somewhere in life. Just because you don’t have a thigh gap like Jourdan Dunn or just because you don’t have a six pack like David Gandy, that doesn’t mean you are not attractive.

If you do fit into the same mould as those models, if you are thin, white, tall, muscular, healthy, toned, etc., then you ought to celebrate that too. I hope you feel well-represented in the media and I hope that you realise how privileged you are. I also hope you recognise the fact that there is a whole other world of people out there who are not in the same position as you and who have to live every day feeling rubbish because they aren’t as “pretty” or “handsome” as a model.

It sucks, the whole world really does just suck. Hard. This year, a guy lived up in space for six months yet we still only have thin women walking for Victoria Beckham on the runway at fashion week. I’m not ‘skinny shaming,’ or whatever anybody wants to call it because I know some may interpret this as me just bashing models, but I’m not. You just can’t win. You cannot say anything without it being interpreted as slander against a particular group. I just want to speak up for the people who are so misrepresented in the media that they are not taken notice of when they try to speak up for themselves. Everyone has a voice and they should not feel like they don’t have the right to use it just because they do not fall into a certain category.

If you do not look like those models which casting directors choose to promote some of the biggest brands in the world, you are still allowed to love yourself, you are allowed to feel beautiful, you are allowed to succeed, you are allowed to get top jobs, you are allowed to carry out your favourite hobbies, you are allowed to spend time with who you like, you are allowed to eat what you like, you are allowed to speak your mind and you are allowed to live your life in exactly the same way as the people who are presented to us every day as “perfection.” Perfection is such a vague word and I do not believe it can be defined properly because, just because someone tries to tell you one body type or one race or one gender is perfection, that doesn’t mean they are true and you should not give them that power. Who are modelling agencies to decide what is perfect and what is not? Who gave them that right? It’s a cliché but everyone really is perfect in their own way. It is something which is said so much that we no longer believe it, but we should. So, next time you see a model in a newspaper, on a website, on a bus shelter or on the big screen, praise them for their beauty and celebrate their looks but don’t allow them to take anything away from you. You are more than enough and you deserve to get everything you want out of life. The media can be a really cruel place and so you shouldn’t allow it to rule your life. Those models are there to sell products, nothing more, but as a society, we have given them so much more power and, the more we feed into the idea that they are perfection, the more we allow these bosses to think they have created a whole other species who are way above us, then the more we separate ourselves from them. Models are human beings, beautiful, amazing human beings with a lot to offer but you do not have to look like them. You deserve every happiness and you deserve to wake up each morning feeling glad to be alive, no matter what your weight, height, skin colour, religion, race, sexuality or gender. I do hope that one day, sooner rather than later, we shall see men and women of all different shapes, sizes and physical appearances up on billboards in places like Times Square, it seems ludicrous to me that this hasn’t already happened and that I even have to write a blog post like this, until then, though, just remember that you are just as perfect as a six foot, slim, toned, “perfect” model. They are no better than you and you should appreciate and love the way that you are. No divine being would have created such a diverse range of physical appearances if only one of them was allowed to be celebrated.

Let me know your thoughts on this! <3

Love, Emily :) xx

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