National NOW Foundation Times >> Spring 2009  >> Article

Love Your Body Campaign Challenges Narrow Beauty Standards

By Madeleine Burton, Communications Intern

BE YOUtiful. Beauty. True you.

The grand prize winner of the 2009 Love Your Body poster contest was designed by Marie Bushbaum.

Every day, women and girls are bombarded with countless media messages. Whether flipping through magazines in the checkout line, relaxing in front of the television after a long day, or noticing an ad on the side of a bus, women can't miss Hollywood and Madison Avenue marketing their products.

Often these sales pitches portray women as vulnerable, pliable objects, while pressuring them to conform to impossible ideals. In telling women that they're weak and their bodies need fixing, companies try to convince women that their goods and services are just what they need to make themselves over so they can attract a man and make other women envious.

This year, celebrity magazines created sensationalistic cover stories deriding Jessica Simpson's natural shape. Fashion advertisements continued to feature models styled and posed to appear drugged-out, helpless or victimized. And women's magazines maintained a focus on weight-loss, make-up and dating.

It is no surprise, then, that the United States is stricken by high rates of eating disorders, unhealthy weight-suppression tactics like smoking, and a fixation on cosmetic surgery procedures.

For more than ten years, the NOW Foundation's Love Your Body campaign has offered a response to this culture of distorted body image. By taking action against the roar of loud and disingenuous media voices, NOW Foundation encourages women to recognize their bodies as healthy, strong and attractive -- and to engage in behaviors that affirm their health and natural beauty. The Love Your Body campaign assures women they are so much more than a collection of lips, legs, and breasts. It encourages women to look at their whole selves and appreciate the hard work, ideas and love that they're capable of doing, creating, and experiencing.

Love Your Body fights back against offensive and unrealistic stereotypes in a number of ways. The campaign publicizes exploitative ads and also affirms those ads that portray women, in all their diversity, as courageous and bold.

This year, the official Love Your Body Day is Oct. 20, when events will take place across the country. NOW has a new action kit that provides ways to organize and celebrate -- whether you have sixty seconds, six minutes, six hours, six days or six weeks. But these actions shouldn't be relegated to just one day out of 365. Every day can, and should, be Love Your Body Day.

The Love Your Body campaign also holds an annual poster contest that draws entries from all age groups around the globe. This year's grand prize winner is Marie Bushbaum from Minneapolis, Minn. See all the category winners and order posters on the Love Your Body website. The 2009 Love Your Body calendar is another way to publicly demonstrate a commitment to challenging society's beauty standards. Order one now! However you decide to take action, the Love Your Body campaign offers a way for you to get involved.