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by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
Since June 2014, 539 million people have watched Meghan Trainor’s catchy music video "All About That Bass," which tackles some of these issues with sass, verve, and a sense of humor. We hope that some of the people watching the video have been women and girls who take to heart her message: "Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top."
We also hope that men who, sadly, criticize women for their weight and, per appearance have watched it too, and have realized the error of their ways; and what’s more, that some media and advertising types who perpetuate a destructive and unrealistic portrayal of what "the ideal woman" looks like will make greater efforts to reverse this trend.
Happily, there is a growing chorus of women and women’s advocates who are joining in. We recently posted about Keira Knightley’s admirable and courageous nude campaign.
We’re not saying the message contained in the video is perfect. We’re still advocates of mostly avoiding the Technicolor cupcakes in the video. And we don’t think that women and girls should base their self-esteem on whether men desire them based on certain physical characteristics. Still, it’s a music video, a fun one, and it has the right message, and we applaud Meghan Trainor and her producers for singing out.
Of course, not everyone is a fan of pop music. We appreciate this refined version of "All About That Bass" by the talented musician, Kate Davis.
by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
Since she first appeared on the pages of All-Star Comics in 1941, Wonder Woman has been a paragon of a strong, heroic woman. She stands for truth, justice, and peace. She is widely described as a feminist icon—and with good reason. Wonder Woman was designed by psychologist William Moulton Marston to be the type of woman who could "rule the world."
Marston was not only a noted psychologist and professor but also a prominent women’s rights activist.
This paragraph comes directly from The New Yorker article: "'Wonder Woman' was conceived by Dr. Marston to set up a standard among children and young people of strong, free, courageous womanhood; to combat the idea that women are inferior to men; and to inspire girls to self-confidence and achievement in athletics, occupations, and professions monopolized by men."
Marston was of the belief that women were the best hope for future civilization. In fact, in 1937, he predicted that women would eventually rule the world. He himself admitted that Wonder Woman was designed to be a propaganda for this "new type of woman" who would lead this new world.
Wonder Woman’s back-story is deeply rooted in the suffragist movement of the late 19th and early 20th century. Wonder Woman’s real name is Princess Diana of Themyscira and she’s one of the Amazon warriors. According to Greek mythology, this all-female band of fighters formed their own matriarchal society. The suffragist movement borrowed from Amazon imagery for use in pro-feminist novels, poetry, and artwork.
When Marston was approached by Superman publisher M.C. Gaines to work as a consultant, he suggested creating a female superhero. Marston borrowed heavily from the suffragist literature while developing Wonder Woman’s origin story.
Wonder Woman first appeared in December 1941, on the eve of World War II, in All-Star Comics No. 8, when she flew to the United States from her mythological homeland to fight for truth, justice--and women’s rights. The next spring, publishers asked readers whether Wonder Woman should be allowed to join the superheroes’ Justice Society, which at the time was composed only of male heroes. Almost 89 percent of the nearly 2,000 first responders voted for her inclusion.
During her first few years, Wonder Woman encouraged women to join in the war effort as Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs) or Women’s Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Services (WAVES). A regular four-page feature called "The Wonder Women of History" included biographies of important women and their accomplishments. Did you know that Wonder Woman ran for president in 1943? A year later, she became the third superhero after Superman and Batman to have her own daily syndicated comic strip.
Marston died of cancer in 1947, just as American women were returning to their domestic roles as housewives (after spending the war working in factories to support the war effort) while men returned from war and went back to work. Wonder Woman followed suit, working more feminine jobs. The "Wonder Women of History" feature was replaced with a feature on wedding trends.
Although Marston’s dream of a civilization led by women has yet to come to fruition, Wonder Woman’s image is still in many ways synonymous with female strength and wisdom. Soon, she’ll be coming to the big screen. In 2016, Israeli actress Gal Gadot will play the Amazon warrior in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. This new Wonder Woman may be a new way for a new generation to engage with Marston’s vision of confident, courageous women.
by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
How do you feel when you flip through the latest copy of Vogue? If you’re like many women, opening up a fashion magazine is like opening up Pandora’s box. The glossy pages unleash a fury of negative emotions that range from shame to envy. The models seem naturally glamorous and effortlessly beautiful. But, as one model is telling the world, looks can be deceiving.
Sara Ziff, a 31-year-old model who has worked for Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, and other big names in fashion, revealed some of the industry’s ugly secrets in a recent interview with Salon. She tells lurid tales of sexual coercion, exploitation of minors, and the great lengths models go to be thin enough for the industry’s notoriously unrealistic standards.
Starvation. Liposuction. Eating disorders. Models have done all of these things to remain competitive in the world of fashion. What’s more, Ziff said, the industry often hires models of 14 or 15 who are pressured into trying to maintain girlish figures, even as they develop into women.
Through these extreme measures, many women are doing long-term damage to their health. Some no longer get their periods due to prolonged malnourishment or eating disorders, Ziff reported.
Her organization, Model Alliance, seeks to support working models and make positive changes to the industry. Model Alliance has uncovered some startling statistics. In an anonymous survey of 85 women in the industry, more than two thirds reported suffering from anxiety or depression, while nearly a third report a history of eating disorders. Six in ten of the models have been asked by their agency to lose weight.
The negative impact of the fashion industry on the body image of women and girls has been well documented. When women see pictures of ultrathin models in magazines, they experience a measurable decline in self-esteem and overall mood, according to research. Meanwhile, the gap between the average American woman and the average fashion model continues to grow.
The truth is, the beauty of fashion models is anything but effortless. These women often suffer mentally and physically to be thin. And sometimes, when these efforts aren’t enough, they are made even smaller through liposuction and even photo editing software.
So what can you do to avoid the ugly affects of high fashion? Unfortunately, many of these images are unavoidable as they are seemingly everywhere: on billboards, television, magazines, online ads, to name a few. But there are simple, healthy ways to feel good about yourself and boost your self-esteem. If you want to lose weight, do so through balanced eating and enjoyable exercise—and rope in a family member or a friend for extra support. Try the PMS Balance Diet to improve your health and reduce your premenstrual symptoms. And practice self-compassion and self-acceptance.
It’s not easy to learn to love yourself in a culture where even famous beauties are told they’re not good enough. But by rejecting fashion’s norms and pressures, you will be happier, healthier, and more at peace. So what can you do today to love yourself as you are?