Kids Say: Thoughts on Body Image

Today I heard a funny story. Well, funny in an Omg, you’re kidding, right? kind of way.

My boss lady, who has a son slightly older than my own boy, overheard a conversation between a co-worker and myself and stepped out of her office to join in. The conversation revolved around normality and how normal is relative. (What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly, right?)

Anyway, Boss Lady tells us how her son expressed his desire for “normal” parents. I laughed, of course. (I’m the type to act extra crazy when someone tells me to be normal.) I stopped laughing and reached down to scrape my jaw off the floor when Boss Lady showed us the picture of her son’s idea of “normal” (i.e. how he thinks she should look).

This photo, found in the 2014 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, is the photo she showed us. See that busty brunette in the bottom right corner? That is the image that Boss Lady’s adolescent son thinks she should reflect.

The women in this photo are all beautiful (although I confess ignorance as to who most of them are). It would be impossible to deny that. Besides, that’s not the point here.

The fact that a son would see this photo and suggest to his mother that this level of beauty is what she should aspire to brings to light a battle women have fought for ages: self-image and the shadow media casts on that image. It’s true that the media has diversified its advertisements over the years, and yes, I realize this photo is from a swimsuit edition (of course they’ll be beautiful). I get that. And I applaud these women for their beauty and tenacity. The modeling world isn’t always pretty, I’m sure.

But…

Even with the small expansion of diversity throughout American media, that a young boy would hold this image as “normal” shows that perhaps we haven’t come as far as we think. It’s still all about the beautiful people, and for the beautiful people, that’s fantastic. But not everyone looks this way. Boss Lady’s kid knows that, yet this image of perfection is ideal.

Yeah, he’s a kid with raging hormones and I’d bet that the above definition of beauty isn’t the end-all of what he finds appealing. I’m simply dumbstruck by his idea of normal.

Still, what woman wouldn’t want to look like any of the above women? That, too, is undeniable. Regardless of how confident we’ve grown in our self-image, given the opportunity to morph into this sort of perfection, many (if not most) would take that opportunity.

What do you think? Has the general perception of beauty evolved? How would you feel if your child suggested this image was normal/standard?

Tweet me @PuddledThoughts

Live. Love. Write.

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