The issue of body-shaming is not new in society. Certain unrealistic standards of how one’s body should be have been ingrained by the patriarchy. The ideals of this structure profit many opportunistic companies. Recently, models and actresses such as Jameela Jamil and many others have opened up about how difficult it is to maintain their bodies that is “acceptable” according to the standards of the society. Many a time, they have to starve themselves to fit into a dress or to get into a certain shape which might result in nutrition deficiencies. There is a certain pressure to look good enough for society, which is also hampering the state of mind of the people. It creates a constant fear of being judged or simply not being good enough.
“It just challenges these conventions around the idea that there’s only one way of looking, that everybody needs to look this ‘perfect’ way,” says Rachel Rodgers.
Thus, in recent years, steps have been taken around the world to break the chains of body stereotypes. Many companies and modeling agencies have now promised not to retouch the pictures of the models. The standards of a model’s figure are also changing and women of all sizes and colors can be seen on the ramp, on the cover of magazines, and in advertisements.
Rodgers, who is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Psychology at Northeastern University, has conducted research in this field. She has been looking for an answer to the question, “are these steps by the companies helping change the perception in people?” The answer she found was a “yes”. These companies are creating a comfortable and non-judgemental surrounding not only for the models but also many other women.
“The idea that these models were happy and comfortable and relaxed in their bodies just as they were, with all their ‘imperfections,’ empowered the participants to feel more accepting of their appearances,” says Rodgers, who studies the way in which mass media influences body image and mental health. “We’re at the point that it has become normal for young women to be concerned about the way they look,” Rodgers says.