The Keep it Real Challenge is a 3-day internet event hosted by Miss Representation and other social organizations to hold magazines accountable for poor self-image among women and girls. Today’s challenge is to share a blog post about why showing real, photoshopped women in magazines matters. Read on as GladRags employees weigh in, and share your own thoughts about Keeping it Real in the comments!
I’ll admit it: I love a good lady magazine. I’ve had a subscription to at least one women’s mag — from Teen People at age 12, to Cosmo at 17, to Allure at 21 — for most of my adult life, and I still read Glamour religiously.
When I read that 3 out of 4 teenage girls feel depressed, guilty, and ashamed after just three minutes of looking through a magazine, the Keep it Real Challenge really hit home: I don’t feel better about myself when I read a magazine.
As a teen, I struggled to reconcile my own experiences with my body with what I was seeing in the media. My self-esteem has improved vastly since then, and I no longer feel like a miserable outsider who was somehow doing “being a woman” incorrectly. And although things have changed for me, I still don’t feel like the powerful, beautiful woman I am when I’m reading the latest fashion magazine — because no one in the pages looks like me.
So lady mags, from a long-time reader and fan of everything from your embarrassing stories to your do’s & dont’s, I’m asking you to Keep it Real. Keep it Real for the teenage girls who don’t feel like they fit in, and are turning to you for guidance. Keep it Real for your readers of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Keep it Real for women.
I’ll admit it: I’m afraid of having The Talk with my daughter someday. Not the birds and the bees talk — I may blush, but I’m pretty sure I can get through that one without sounding like a gibbering idiot. What I’m afraid of is the talk about body image and unrealistic standards of beauty.
I mean, How exactly do you explain to your daughter that while it’s damaging to be obsessed about weight and to starve yourself to be thin, it’s okay to care about your health, and taking care of your body?
Unfortunately, this is where my own ingrained double standards rear their ugly heads. I’ve caught myself simultaneously thinking “I need to lose those last five pounds of baby weight” and “I kinda like the look of myself with some honest curves”. Not to mention “I really don’t like the perfectly-unblemished-skin overly-makeupped look” and “Man, I wish my pores weren’t quite so enormous”. If I can’t even make up my own mind, how do I explain it to a young and impressionable someone else? And how did I start thinking like this in the first place?
So if anyone thinks of a clear and elegant way to explain all this to a child, please let me know. In the meantime, I’m asking magazines for women and girls to Keep it Real: pictures of people in magazines should actually be of real people. If you’re going to photoshop every picture, why pretend you’re taking pictures of a real person at all?
Sometimes it is easy for me to forget that the “ideal” woman is still represented so poorly in the media because I’m so disconnected from it. Surrounding myself with women who represent all different shapes, sizes, ages, and races who are proud, loud, and so awesomely positive about themselves and each other it’s easy to forget that this is not the reality for everyone. We are being lied to, forced to navigate our life experience being told what we need, want, and should be. It’s important to me that magazines Keep it Real so that everyone has the opportunity to live surrounded in truth. It is out there, after all. It will set us free.
What do you think about the Keep it Real challenge? What does Keeping it Real mean to you? Let us know in the comments!