National Eating Disorders Association
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Music Speaks: The Latest Beauty Revolution/Revelation?

Christina Colon, Communications Intern

Every song carries a message, and many artists have been relaying an important one: Embrace your imperfections. With this new wave of hits exploring the implications of idealized beauty, listeners are being urged to dismiss society’s demand of obtaining a “perfect’ appearance. While this definitely calls for celebration, one must wonder, what exactly sparked this outbreak of empowering anthems?

Let’s face it: People are constantly bombarded with images that set unreasonable standards. Pictures of celebrities in magazines practically glorify transformation-seeking behaviors, and many are pressured to believe that they can (and should) rely on cosmetics and dieting to look a certain way. While it’s no secret that photoshop reconstructs these photographs, superstars such as Colbie Caillat make it a point to showcase the deception firsthand. In her newest video “Try,” she dismantles her image, removing makeup and extensions as other featured women do the same. Audiences are exposed to a practice that has been used in an industry for decades, and is unraveled within a matter of minutes.

But if this has always been a tool for famous folks to use, why the sudden interest in advocating natural beauty? According to NEDA’s Helpline Supervisor, Jennifer Carroll, the fact that the movement is taking place at all is something to applaud. “Awareness provides a great opportunity to speak out and advocate for change that needs to happen.”

 

It’s no secret that musicians hold a lot of star power, so they have the ability to shed light on the media’s distortions. Despite advertising attempts that aim to exemplify “real” men and women...such representations end up being pretty unrealistic. The fact that certain body frames have long been over glamorized or underrepresented is something that Beyoncé addresses in her song “Pretty Hurts,” which depicts the dangers of trying to conform to a certain size. John Legend’s newly released “You and I (Nobody in the World)” also takes initiative in presenting a wide range of women that differ in color, ethnicity, age, and physique. From transgender advocate Laverne Cox to civilians such as a breast cancer survivor that bares all following a mastectomy, plenty of diverse individuals are represented in his video.

It’s crucial that the public be relayed these kinds of messages (visual and otherwise) in order to debunk misconceptions of what qualifies as “beautiful.” NEDA’S Helpline Manager Lauren Smolar notes that now, “It’s no longer about [portraying] different types...It’s about all types. People are [finally] coming to a middle ground.”

 

 

This branch of diversification stems far and wide. After all, positive role models are a resource that cannot be exhausted, and while celebs attract attention, perhaps credit is due to the civilians that appear in some of these videos. A vast majority include women that differ in color, ethnicity, age, and physique.

“It’s wonderful, the fact that we’re embracing the standard--or, nonstandard, I should say,” Smolar says. “It’s a great leap towards seizing and accepting individuality.”