No doubt some of us have heard by now about Lizzi Miller. For those who haven’t heard, Lizzi is a model whose photo in a recent edition of Glamour Magazine caused quite a stir. The nude photo wasn’t airbrushed and caught her in a normal pose. Within hours of the issue becoming available positive feedback came flooding into the editor.
As I was reading about this the other night my four year old came up next to me. He looked at the photo and happily said “Mom, she’s laughing!”
That was all he found remarkable about the photo. Not her state of undress, not her belly, her thighs, or arms, not her hair. He looked at her and saw a person, a happy person. I hope he is always able to retain that sort of empathy, especially for women.
Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping my critical eye closed when looking at other people. It is harder to keep it in check when I’m looking at myself. Since I’ve stopped reading magazines and cancelled our TV service it is much easier to feel comfortable with how I really look. I’ve also worked hard to remind myself that exercise is for health not for fashion. That skipping desert is for well-being not for dress-sizes. That I am not just the facilities manager for my body, I live here.
I guess that is what makes me feel uncomfortable with the buzz about this particular photo- we’re still fixated on the body not the person inside it. It is certainly laudable to run a photo of a woman whose body is more realistic, if only because it helps us create a more reasonable definition of ‘normal.’ Despite that the discussion has still centered around the body, the shape of it, the presence or absence of flaws. It has been compared to other photos favorably and unfavorably.
This continued focus on the physical doesn’t change the discussion, just flips it over. Some who look for a more realistic beauty are quick to condemn the gaunt models as ‘too-skinny.’ Unsatisfied with the current ideal they create a new ideal that can be just as narrow.
I think the discussion needs to shift away from the states of our physical bodies to those things that differentiate us from dolls or mannequins. We have minds, feelings, goals, dreams. The best photos aren’t of bodies, they’re of people. The best way to feel good about your body is to like the person that lives in it.
I hope to more fully retrain myself so that when I see a picture of myself I can look past the faults that will always be there for those who care to search for them. I want to be like my son and look at a picture like this or any other and see nothing but a person, preferably a happy one.