“Most American women are plus-size, but they make up less than 2% of the images we see.” This appears in big, bold text on the page for Refinery29’s 67% project. They aim to change the stock images that we see on web pages and advertising everyday so that they represent what the population really looks like. And it’s about damn time.
67% of women in the United States are a size 14 or higher, hence where the project gets its name.
The fact that we rarely see those types of women in advertising or as actresses just makes these higher sized women feel worse about themselves. The body positive movement has become more and more widespread, but how are girls supposed to believe in it when they still never see bodies like theirs represented?
When you look around a classroom or a workspace, it’s pretty unlikely that everyone in there wears a size 2. But that’s what you see when you look through a magazine or watch TV. That gives women unrealistic expectations of what they’re supposed to look like. Not everyone is meant to be smaller than a size 2, and it can lead to eating disorders and seriously unhealthy habits if girls are trying to make themselves look like the models they see.
The Aerie Real campaign is a great example of having models that represent actual people. If more companies would be like Aerie and Refinery29, maybe some eating disorders and other mental issues that result from body confidence, or lack thereof, wouldn’t be so prevalent in our society.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America, often as a result of untreated mental illness. Eating disorders can often go undiagnosed because girls try to keep them hidden. This can lead to substance abuse, suicide and mental illnesses that need to be treated.
Society has taught us that it isn’t okay to have curves. It isn’t okay to be anything but skinny. This is a huge problem and is most definitely a reason why so many women have body image issues. Even little girls are having this issue and calling themselves fat when they should be carefree and not be worrying about these kinds of things.
The 67% Project has the potential to start reversing this.
If this becomes as widespread as I hope it does, generations of women growing up will be able to see themselves on billboards and in magazines. They’ll be in the stock pictures on web articles and magazines. They won’t have this damaging view of themselves, because they’ll finally get to see that it’s normal.
Women shouldn’t feel the need to be whatever the media has deemed to be the “correct” body type. They shouldn’t be shamed for being bigger and they shouldn’t be shamed for being skinny, either. Normal bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Women shouldn’t feel pressure to be anything but what they are – a healthy, natural woman.
We never should have felt pressure to be a certain way. If the media had always celebrated all body types and natural beauty, we wouldn’t need movements like these. If Photoshop wasn’t constantly abused, women wouldn’t feel pressure to be perfect.
I wish that we could’ve grown up in a world that was like that. But since we didn’t, movements like these need to exist. We need to make a change so that every girl can grow up knowing that she’s beautiful.
And it starts here.
Feature image via Refinery29