By Jonathan Reed
Video supplied by abc News©
Too fat. Too thin. Too tall. Too short. Too hot. Not hot enough. On and on it spins, the vicious cycle which women face on a daily basis. The unreachable emblems of beauty which for far too long have resulted in countless women asking, am I good enough? In recent years these constructed and manipulated ideals of ‘beauty’ have tainted the confidence of women and young girls, forcing them into investing hard earned cash towards “antidotes” or “quick fixes” for something that was never a problem in the first place.
With the introduction and explosion of Social Media these themes and their toxic messaging can now infect society on a global scale by the simple click of a button. But with this reach comes a deep-seated lack of responsibility. There is no care or consideration for the effect this messaging has on young impressionable minds. Going forward, this must change.
Social media’s part to play is a large one, and it emerges in the form of posts for ‘meal-replacement’ shakes. The name itself is unsettling, so why would anyone endorse it? Well, they do and like most things in the world, there is money to be made and a lot of it.
You don’t have to look far on platforms like Twitter or Instagram to find a post showcasing a model posing in workout gear beside a tub of “meal replacement powders”. And the description beneath each of these images is always the same. “I feel so healthy and look at how much weight I have lost from simply drinking this sickly-looking shake.” Now, whilst that statement may be imaginary, shockingly it isn’t far from the truth. What’s even more outrageous is the simplicity of these posts and quite honestly, they lie.
The perpetuating rhetoric that to lose weight, or gain a body seen in these types of posts and magazine covers is achieved by merely drinking a “healthy” milkshake is a fantasy, and a dangerous one at that. When scrolling through images like this, which are trying to sell you a product that ultimately is nothing more than a glamorised laxative, ask yourself four questions.
One. Where is the diet plan they also use? Two. Where are the names of the personal trainers they have paid for? Three. Which filter on Instagram did they use? Four. Have they included the name of their Plastic Surgeon?
These four simple questions are vitally important. Why? Because none of the social media stars, celebrities or models you see have achieved the physical shape they have by simply replacing meals with a shake or downing a few diet pills. There is an army behind each post, and one, many women would be unable to afford. It is also a guarantee that for each of these four questions, there will be no answers featured in these types of posts. Why? It breaks the money-making fantasy. The quick-fix is replaced by the long slog and stressful maintaining of a “kerching” body. Doesn’t sound as appealing does it?
But what is the most damaging aspect of these types of Social media posts?
Sadly, today a messaging has emerged which is consuming the environment of young women and it is rife on Social Media. Despite how a woman looks, including the flaws we all as human beings share, they will never be deemed “good enough.” And what’s worse is the pomposity that for women to be successful, or popular, they must fit an image type, they must look like the women they see in the magazines and on social media accounts.
Now, there is nothing wrong or shameful in women wanting to get in shape or change how they look. But what is wrong, is the pressure placed on them to do all these things. It should be a choice. A woman should be able to choose either way what she decides to do with her body. If she wants to hit the gym, great. If she wants to stay at home and eat a pizza, also great. These social influencers who pose next to these products, who ignorantly post a fabrication of attainment, feed into shaming woman who don’t look like them.
They expose and then manipulate the insecurities we all face, the flaws in all people’s physical appearances and then extort them for financial gain. And whilst the same is happening to men, the atmosphere isn’t as obsessive. Women are subjected to photoshopped images, beauty campaigns that lack diversity or different body shapes. And unlike men, women are consistently placed beneath the microscope, with some photographs of models becoming so heavily altered that even their baby hairs on their arms and legs are erased.
It is insanity and can, in cases, be destructive. But finally, we are seeing women begin to fight back. Actress, Jameela Jamil is brilliantly exposing the absurdness of the pressure’s woman are forced to face in todays society. She endorses body positivity in a way that doesn’t patronise or misinform, she mocks the ridiculousness of selling a woman’s insecurities to the highest bidder. Through her own experiences, which she highlights on her social media pages, she has created an effective environment whereby she clears the ‘meal replacement’ fog and allows the sunlight of body acceptance to shine through.
We are also beginning to see a healthier approach on Social Media platforms for those looking to change their bodies, making the choice to get in shape. One such example is the ‘Centr’ App. Scrolling through the accounts Instagram posts, there is no ‘meal replacement plan’ insight, no declaration that to be better than you already are, “here drink a brown clumpy shake.” Instead the focus is on the reality of achieving a healthy mind and body and embracing your own definition of those two things.
The app is the brainchild of Thor actor, Chris Hemsworth, and along with the team who have countless times transformed him into the God of Thunder, there are no lies here. He has actively created a space where the illusions of ‘quick fixes’ and fantasies aren’t even on the radar. The app embraces the uniqueness of us all and our approaches to exercise and attitudes.
If only more within the social media world would embrace the positions taken by Jameela Jamil and Chris Hemsworth and others around them, then surely our modern society would be a healthier place.
The need for women to look a certain way is a spinning wheel that has gathered pace across decades. The faster it has spun the more blurred the details have become and with that so has the messaging. Women, and especially young girls, should be celebrated for who they are, not for what society deems is a cause for celebration. Tall, short. Curvy, slim. Introvert, extrovert. Who cares? Accept who you are, embrace the flaws, embody your body and then, like an earthquake, shout it from the rooftops, so that even those ‘meal replacement’ powders shake.