By Itzel Gomez
Growing up, I was obsessed with teen fashion magazines. Every month I would look forward to the next issues of Seventeen and Teen Vogue that were filled with fun recipes, monthly horoscopes, and the latest fashion trends. I even had an “inspiration wall” in my room that I would fill with pictures of beautiful models wearing clothes I wish I owned. Slowly, my wall became filled with beautiful models with perfect bodies: no blemishes or scars, no body hair and certainly no muffin top. Puberty was a very difficult time for my body image, as I’m sure it was for many people.
I was constantly comparing myself to the models I admired in the magazines and was jealous of how happy and comfortable they looked in their skin. The thought of even wearing a short-sleeve shirt in public scared me because I’ve always been teased for having hair on my arms. Even on the hottest days, I would wear long sleeves because I didn’t want to be made fun of. I was also overweight growing up, so anything even semi-revealing was an instant “no.” At one point, I was so self-conscious about my weight that I would try to deprive myself from food.
However, that only lasted a day because my mom started noticing that I was turning down my favorite Mexican dishes and she became suspicious. It wasn’t until I got to college that I began to realize my “perfect body” was the one I had all along.
In 2014, Aerie launched a new body positive campaign featuring un-retouched images of models wearing lingerie. This bold move in fashion was a powerful statement about loving our bodies just the way they are. So often we’re told something’s wrong with the way we look and we need to fix it.
In March 2017, Target decided to shift the direction of their summer swimsuit ads to include a body-diverse group of women. Like Aerie, these images were not retouched and showed what a body truly looks like in all of its beauty.
Seeing models in magazines who realistically represent the diversity in our world is extremely important, especially for those of us who have struggled with body-shaming. They show us that we are beautiful too and there’s nothing wrong with us. Tank-tops and swimsuits should not be clothes we dread wearing, and they belong on every body type.
We’re constantly bombarded with images that distort our perceptions of ourselves. More companies need to follow in the steps of Aerie and Target by using their platforms to change the stigma of being uncomfortable with our bodies.