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A Note About Body Acceptance

The focus of this page is ending animal exploitation in the fashion industry. However, after spending several months involved in fashion, I have something to say about body acceptance as well.

Time and time again I observe that the fashion industry- along with many other industries such as the beauty industry- contribute to people feeling that in order to be worthy they must look a certain way. That they aren't good enough just yet. That their value will be determined by how well they fit into an outfit or how many likes their post gets.

Comparison and insecurities fuel consumption, and this benefits industries. But does it benefit us? The images we are constantly shown- in magazines, social media, television, advertisements, etc- are not representative of reality. They aren't even representative of the people they supposedly portray. Model Marygrace Tropeano shared the process that both her and her photograph went through for a beauty advert she was featured in to achieve the end result (1). She did this in order to remind us that what we are shown in advertising images and long for is not actually real.

These adverts are photoshopped to hide any "imperfection"- aka deviation from an unachievable beauty standard- a model may have. Have you ever seen cellulite in a magazine photo? I certainly have not- which doesn't make much sense, since between 80% and 90% of women have it (2).

A New York Times report shows that people in a city see 5000 adverts in a day (3). In most of the fashion ones, only one type of body is usually shown: a very slim one, without any cellulite or scars or acne. According to the Better Business Bureau, fashion models must be between 5’9″ and 6′ and weigh between 110 and 130 pounds- which is considered or very close to being considered medically underweight. Moreover, Ohio State University reports that these models are constantly told by their agents and fashion executives that they must be even slimmer (4).

A recent study found that 90% of women respondents used filters to edit their images before posting them "to even out their skin tone, reshape their jaw or nose, shave off weight, brighten or bronze their skin or whiten their teeth" (5). Ninety percent. If all of us do that, it clearly perpetuates the lack of diverse, realistic images shown. It reinforces an artificial vicious cycle of insecurity in which nobody wins. No one- except for certain brands and industries that thrive on said insecurities.

Constantly showing these unrealistic, photoshopped bodies, along with hiding the most common ones, further fuels the individual belief most of us have that we are alone in not looking a certain way we should. A Glamour Magazine survey showed that 97% of us have at least one negative thought about our bodies everyday (6).

Eating disorders, which are among the deadliest mental illnesses, have been on the rise since the pandemic hit (7). Said disorders are brought by an extreme lack of self-acceptance.

Fashion should be a place of art, expression and inventiveness. Not one of self-doubt.

This is not a fashion I like.

We should be aware of the discourses that surround us and interfere with our sense of self worth and well-being.

Fashion should be a place of art, expression and inventiveness. Not one of self-doubt.

I believe fashion can be a great resource to find our style, communicate and increase our self-confidence. Fashion should come from a place of acceptance, to ourselves and others. It should spring from a joyous exercise of freedom. It should be something beautiful and fun, which doesn't include fear and judgment. It should NEVER go against our mental health.

Today I share this because I believe it is indispensable.

If all of us truly began accepting ourselves, and not being so scared to show ourselves as we are, less people would feel alone and insecure. We are so much more than our looks.

In regards to body acceptance, I would like to share a helpful concept from Lindsay Ronga, from Outshininged (8). She suggests we work on "body neutrality", which means that we don't necessarily have to "love" our imperfections, such as our stretch marks, but we should not hate them. I recommend reading this article to learn more about that.

With love,

-Maggie Stilman

Founder, Editor & Writer

Photographs by Alena Shekhovtcova & Ron Lach.


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