Challenging Body Norms through Media

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post 
Bahadur, N. (2017, December 7). How Dove Tried To Change The Conversation About Female Beauty. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dove-real-beauty-campaign-turns-10_n_4575940

Bodylore is an integral component of our lives and social interactions. As humans, we understand ourselves and engage with other through the use and acceptance of our bodies. In order to understand what bodylore encompasses, we must learn about who we are as individuals and how we live in our bodies. There are many intersections to our bodies such as shape, skin, height, weight, and fashion. In our society, there is a message that has developed to define the optimal body image. For example, in various forms of media, the producers or those who are on display are generally thin framed white women with small features. The consumers of media such as the audience of diverse women who engage in these platforms, view these images and often feel they cannot connect or relate with the women who are on display. Having limited examples of body positivity and acceptance within mainstream media creates the idea that not everyone is accepted in society and the belief in social structures through image. Social media has played a large role in how women and men view their bodies. Recent research has shown that women are heavily influenced by social media in the way they view themselves. In fact, “88% of women compare themselves to images in the media.” The social structures that are created through the lens of one’s perception of the perfect body leads to the development of body stereotypes such as a “large angry black woman” or “thin white lady” and the mistreatment of those who do have the “normal look.” 

As a woman who has career interests in working as an entertainment journalist, bodylore ties directly to my discipline. As a child, I always dreamed of working in television, having a voice to inspire and impact many people. The only problem with my dream is that I did not witness many examples of black women who were the face of large television platforms except Oprah. The ideal image of a television personality was and still is a slender, white woman. It is rare to see an African American woman, specifically or a larger size to host a television show or work in television news. The stumbling blocks for uniquely sized individuals or those of color to serve as the face of media networks are the inability to be taken seriously as a public figure due to preconceived notions toward that person. Recently, there has been a movement toward body positivity and acceptance among all intersections of women. The voices who speak out against this oppression critique the notion that larger women cannot be viewed as attractive on television while walking firmly in their truth. One plus-size journalist, Nina Parker is constantly breaking barriers and reaching new plateaus with her bold personality and body confidence. She uses her platform to empower her viewers to understand that it is acceptable to have curves and feel beautiful. Having more public figures who go against the grain of normal beauty standards set the tone for consumers that they can empower someone as well. 


Taylor Simmons is a graduate student in the Humanities MA program at Old Dominion University. She received her undergraduate degree in Communication and hopes to fulfill a career in the television industry. In her free time, she enjoys shopping and watching reality television. She believes that her leadership has enabled her to succeed through her matriculation thus far. Her goal is to one day have a talk show where she can use her platform to continue to inspire and empower others.