By Sally Strickland
While trying on clothes in the dressing room, there is often the makings of a pizza pie. A trace of cheese is found on the thighs. A bit of rising dough pops out from the pants someone hoped would fit. Perhaps a blemish as red as a pepperoni sits searing on the face. All of a sudden, everyone has the passion of an Italian pizzeria owner when studying her dish. Before the sauce is stirred, this pizza needs some work. Too much here, maybe not enough there. Scrutiny is the only companion locked inside the small room that is now an oven, with good or bad lighting depending on the cook’s opinion.
The body is a messy dish when looked at through the eyes of perfection. Campaigns have been launched to debunk this distaste with which people view themselves, and offer an open forum of representation when it comes to body types. Plus-size models have snagged magazine covers reserved for the waif. Anti-Photoshop advertising is attempting to show real bodies. Unfortunately, these efforts are still falling short.
The portrayal of beautiful bodies for decades in industrialized countries with the ability to produce mass media has been thin and fit with clear skin. This strong rooted imagery is not diminished in the current beauty climate. For every single plus-size magazine cover, there are 11 other monthly issues disputing it. For every Instagram picture a celebrity shares braving her stretch marks and acne for fans, she shares a hundred more photos showing her enviable body and professionally covered face. Voices call out from skinny celebrities on social media to love all bodies and be comfortable. Optical interpretation reveals a different emotion. How inspiring it is to look flawless like this photo and be told to spread body love.
The labels of body types and representation have created categories, and categories equal separation. A larger frame strutting a bikini down the beach is looked at by spectators as brave and confident or a bad choice in swimwear. Put a desirable figure in the same situation and it is appreciated without excuses. It is clear that despite the effort of positive messages, the perfect body still reigns from a lack of other examples in the media.
Reinforcement is key when sending messages to the public. Knowing the wonders and capabilities of programs like Photoshop gives comfort to some when flipping through magazines and advertising. This comfort is lost when the same material is rampant in every form of media available from television to advertising. Sectioning the few outliers into something outside of the normal, such as plus-size or untouched, offers a moment of inspiration quickly reversed by what is more prominently displayed. There are not enough mass produced images to enforce the truth. The truth in mass media is that there is still a normal body type and it is still sought after and desired by the general public. The pizza has yet to be put in the oven and baked to perfection.
The reality of life is that flatbreads are not the truth. There are often fuller ingredients. When baking this pizza, undivided attention from media is required to avoid burning it. Cooking the pizza with extra dough, cheese and pepperoni as they come makes an interesting flavor. The sauce may be thick or thin, but the taste is all the same.
Strickland is a broadcast journalism senior