Get off the Bus

(NPR program aired originally in 2009)

I was listening to NPR radio on the way to an appointment.

The commentator spoke of how individuals in Spain are trying to pass legislation regarding advertising:

Advertisers would have some restrictions regarding how they can portray women’s bodies. More fashion models are extremely thin but there is now a discouragement against this anorexic “Ideal.”  Even the thinnest mannequins in shops are being closeted in order to display an average, “normal” body type.  Maybe they should keep a sampling of all sizes, since there are some very thin women in the world, you know, mix it up a bit.

The potential legislation is due to the increase in eating disorders and other social problems such as depression and suicide.

At least someone understands advertisements aren’t neutral; they are meant to shape thinking and behavior, and this may have a negative or positive result for the one buying in, depending on how they use the information or product.

While I believe the advertiser should have the freedom to work, and ultimately it is our individual responsibility to weigh the worth of it’s message, this freedom does not release an advertiser from responsibility  for what it creates, nor the effect.   No man is an island, and yes, we are our brother’s keeper, at least in civilized society.  Everything matters.

Let’s face it-  The media “machine” have a huge role in creating personal dissatisfaction, because it has a product to sell.  In order for a business to exist, they need you to buy.  For you to buy, you must have a want or a need.  They have marketers to “create” the want and/or need through advertising. Some products are worthy, others are not.

Unfortunately, there is a huge drive to create dissatisfaction with our bodies in order to sale product.

Ever flip through the TV Cable guide?

“Get the hard body you’ve always wanted…”

“Return to your youth…”

“Rid yourself of wrinkles, age-spots, cellulite, freckles, acne..”

“Look years younger…”

One of my favorites:  “If you are not whitening, you are yellowing.”

Now that’s clever.  Kudos to you, whoever thought of that one.

Another favorite: “The Brazilian Butt lift.”

First, the ideal breast should remain 17; Now our butts must become buoyant  And the rest of our bodies, well, it should be as thin and sculpted as possible.  My local gym is selling t shirts with this motto: “Strong is the new Skinny…”

It’s not that we don’t appreciate said breast and butts, either.  its just that unless we want to do the mental equivalent of driving toothpicks under our fingernails, we need to be accepting of who we are, and focus on being the best that we can be.  There’s nothing wrong with working hard and making that rock hard body a reality;  Nothing wrong with anything you want to do to improve your life or your looks;  that’s a personal decision.  But hopefully do so while knowing your personal worth is not at stake should it not be completely possible, or your standard unobtainable.   There ARE a few  people in our world who will reject us because we don’t look a certain way;  The question is, will we participate?   Isn’t acceptance and contentment much more appealing?

There comes a time when we have to decide when we need to “get off the bus.”

That’s an expression I use when I need to change direction in my thinking,  actions or attitudes in general.  Religious circles call it repenting:  when you are going in one direction; simply turn around and walk in the opposite.   It starts with a decision.  Just pull the cord and get off the bus already.

I’ve had to get off the media driven bus many times.  While I have a healthy view of myself, and a sense of humor in tact most of the time regarding my imperfections, the messages of dissatisfaction still work their way in and whisper how maybe, just maybe my life would be a little bit better “if..”  If maybe I would simply throw down 100 bucks every two month and thicken my thinning eyelashes.

Maybe I just want to recognize the woman I used to see in the mirror again.  It’s a powerful motivation.

Maybe Instead I can be content with using one of the body-building mascaras flooding the cosmetic counters.

Maybe I can accept that I am growing older, and my body is changing.

So many choices…

What’s so ironic, and tragically dichotomous, is all the food advertisements sandwiched (pun intended, I couldn’t help myself) in between these beauty enhancing ads:

“Be Skinny” on one channel.  The next demands: “Eat this food!”

“Get rid of Cellulite” but “Upsize your Meal!”

What’s interesting is to study the standards of beauty throughout history and in various cultures. 
We are multifaceted beings-  We each have personal  interests, qualities, talents, and gifts to develop.  If we are lacking in talents, we can choose to do things in life that enrich ourselves and others around us. Life is a gift, and we can choose each day to make the most of the time we’re given.

Have you ever met a person who may not have caught your eye immediately, but the more you got to know them, the more beautiful they became?  Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.  Not everyone has the same definition of what beauty is, so if someone isn’t “taken” with you, that’s okay too.  Everyone is different.  Hopefully they will not reject you as an individual because of it.  If they do, don’t make it your problem.

As a teen, and this is typical of teenagers, I was always so dissatisfied with my body, and even at my smallest, I was convinced I was fat.  Later on, I realized what I called “Fat” was actually the normal movement of my body.  Once I developed a real problem with weight,  I could see the difference.  I can look back at my younger days, and sad that I spent so much time dissatisfied.  We can’t go back in time- all we can do is make a decision for each day and live  life to the fullest.  It’s so much richer when you are at peace with yourself.


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