In which we take a brief respite from shilling my work as a young adult author to consider body image issues and representations thereof in the popular culture.

First up,  via, Why Do People Read Magazines that Make Them Feel Bad?
A very good question indeed! It’s no big secret that women’s magazines are essentially advertising tools, and therefore, making us feel not [BLANK] enough is sort of their stock in trade: we hate ourselves, their advertisers promise us tools for improvement, we buy the advertised products. And so on and so on. And while I support (almost) anything that sells the written word and contribute my fair share to the ladymag industry, it’s been a process, hardening myself from the mixed messages most of these glossies send out.

Apparently those of us with body image issues (are there any of us without? Call me – I must know your secret!) spend 50% more time looking at idealized body images if the images accompany advice on improving our own bodies.
While I guess it’s a good thing that we’re more critical of ourselves in the context of self-improvement, the fact is that often these prescriptions for fitness are little more than a regurgitation of the latest fad. Furthermore, it’s crucial to keep in mind that these ideal bodies haven’t necessarily been attained by the prescription in question – or even, for that matter, at all. Almost every single photo that makes it to such an article has been retouched, and heavily.

As I head toward my mid-thirties, I find I’m in a place where I can usually read a fashion magazine and enjoy it for what it is without spiraling into self-loathing or existential despair (though I *do* wish I could afford more of the fashions!). Teen and twenty-something me put in her dues, and then some, so I think this seems as “fair” as one might hope for.

What about you? Do representations of idealized bodies affect your image of your own?