Wednesday, December 1, 2010


   I recently came across the following photo, which features Victoria "Posh" Beckham, posed to sell Armani lingerie.

Sexy? More like "scary!"
   I found the photo in an article entitled Victoria Beckham bends over backwards to look sexy in another smouldering Armani lingerie ad. Obviously, the marketing team at Armani believe that Beckham looks the way one would want to look while wearing their lingerie, since it's hard to sell clothing by featuring someone wearing it that looks awful. People tend to buy clothing that looks beautiful and sexy on others in hopes that we will look just as good, simply by putting it on. That fact, plus the title and copy of the article, lead me to believe that more than one person finds Posh attractive in this photo--some even find her "smoldering."

   Count me out. I find this photo incredibly disturbing. After I noticed the lovely contrast of shadows on her skin, the shocking realization hit me: those shadows were caused by the incredibly deep hollows of a human being's emaciated body. I immediately thought of the black and white photos I've seen of concentration camp victims during the holocaust. And of the body of one of my dear friends, who has battled anorexia and won, but still has trouble with feeling okay in her own skin, in spite of the fact that her wrists look like they could be snapped by a stiff breeze. In a word, this photo is scary.

   I shared it with a group of women I respect deeply, with whom I had bonded over a common dedication to losing weight in a healthy, slow way. Since we've expressed similar views on health being far more important than one's weight, I felt sharing this with them would mean sharing it with like-minded people. Much to my surprise, while some found the pose itself to blame for Posh's razor-like hip bones, the majority felt that the photo was not scary, as I believed, but very sexy. Some even expressed that they wish they looked as she does. This was enough to have me sobbing in my nutritionist's office...sobbing for me, for my sisters, for the young girls who are being influenced by this even now, and for these women, who, even in their dedication to health and feeling good about themselves, have been unable to exorcise the demons of media-defined beauty.

   Please know that I'm not saying that I find thin bodies ugly. Naturally thin and healthy bodies, such as my friend "M" has, are both lovely and sexy. I know M well enough to be fully aware that she eats regularly and healthfully, and that her thin body is a natural shape for her. She's an avid runner, and this ensures that she's usually very slim. M radiates health and peace from her willowy frame.

   I think, frankly, that there's beauty in every frame. As Eve Ensler said, we all need to "love our tree," whatever the shape of our trunk and branches. I don't want even Posh to feel bad about how she looks. But I find it difficult to believe that Posh's shape is a result of healthy living. I think, instead, that she's suffering from an eating disorder, and the media has chosen to glorify the results as the pinnacle of beauty. It's a standard which few can meet, and most who try will find themselves ill or even dead as a result.

   I am trying my best to feel good about who I am and who I will be when I reach my goal weight. I'll have hips--juicy ones, at that--compliments of my Eastern European ancestors. I'll have high cheekbones and chubby cheeks. I have large "curves" above and below. And though I'll have hipbones, they are unlikely to cut like a knife. I'll have thick, powerful legs with defined muscles, and my arms, though slightly flabby underneath, will be muscled too. I'm almost there in some areas and still working on it in the meantime. But I hurt when I think about how others feel about their own bodies as a result of photos like this one of Beckham. I wish there were some way for me to flood the industry wth images of beauty that show women's shapes in all their glory. Here are two images that do that...though the first is more inspirational (the second is just funny...):

Nike "Big Butt" Ad

Curves "Motivational" poster

   What do you think? Are you able to escape the media's definition of beauty? How can we deal with this issue? I'd love to talk about it!


  1. Victoria Beckham definitely has an eating disorder. I watched a documentary about her with one of my friends. I do not think that the initial intent of the film maker was to focus on Victoria's body throughout various stages of life. However, that is what the end result turned out to be. If you look at pictures of her when she was with the Spice Girls she looks healthy, energetic and beautiful. When you look at her now she is completed emaciated. What makes someone who is skin and bones sexy? If anything I feel bad for her. When I think of sexy I think of a woman who radiates confidence, likes herself, and is proud of who she is and what she will become. Thin does not equal sexy.

  2. I love what you wrote, Alli! SO true about a woman who is sexy: it has to do with confidence and self-love. I'd add that she's healthy. It's hard to find someone sexy if they look sickly. (((hugs)))