THE BLOG

Body Image - Why We Need a Red Carpet Revolution at the Oscars This Weekend

27/02/2014 11:33 GMT | Updated 28/04/2014 10:59 BST

One evening my husband and I were watching a film in which Zoe Saldana plays a bereaved assassin. In the opening scenes she wears a skin-tight bodysuit, every ounce of her slim frame available for inspection. As she slipped through an air vent I shrank back into the sofa. I have a BMI of 21 and had never felt so fat.

As the movie continued I thought about other celebrities I considered attractive and they were all women described by my husband as 'too thin'. But these slight frames that I could never have were the ones I wanted. Why is that?

Media's role

Women portrayed in the media today are getting increasingly thinner. There are models who are clinically anorexic, literally killing themselves to fit fashion's demand for the ultra-skinny, human coat hanger. Today Cindy Crawford would be considered far too curvy for the catwalk.

Indeed the media's relentless portrayal of 'perfect' women has a negative affect on our body image - bombarded with images of flawlessly thin women it's no surprise we eventually feel inferior.

Cindy Crawford summed it up when she said "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford"

Advertisers get paid to play on this insecurity and create a need for the product they represent. They say we should aim to look like [insert name of any model] who is flawless. The reality of course is that this model isn't flawless, but is airbrushed and photo-shopped before being offered up for public consumption. No amount of said product could make her look like her flawless media image.

No matter how thin we get, how wrinkle-free we become, we are never allowed to say "I'm happy with myself", because we are conditioned to believe there is always room for improvement. And our biggest critics, aside from ourselves, are other women!

The rise of Ana

Ana is the affectionate name given to anorexia by a growing number of young women who, on websites and social media, encourage each other not to eat. With hashtags like #thinspiration they share images of emaciated young women, thigh gaps and hip bones and declare they would rather be dead than fat - what are we doing to our young women?

And what about the children?

When I was ten years old I didn't know what a diet was, I was climbing trees and building dens and wonderfully oblivious. Today almost half of ten-year old girls (and perhaps surprisingly 34% of boys) have already dieted. Tragic.

Bombarded with images of Disney princesses and Barbie with their anatomically impossible body measurements, and 'role models' that can only be happy when, as the most beautiful, they have bagged the handsome prince, they learn that appearance is what counts most at the end of the day.

A woman's worth

How sad to see Rebecca Adlington OBE, double Olympic gold medalist and world record holder admit on a reality TV show to feeling inferior to Miss Universe Great Britain after constant remarks on social media criticising her weight and appearance.

And when news broke about Prince Charles's affair with Camilla, the media and the public were outraged. Not because of his betrayal or the shame brought on the monarchy, but because Diana was beautiful, and Camilla, in their eyes, was not.

This is the world we live in; a world where a woman's worth is directly linked to her beauty, and perhaps even more so, her dress size.

The fight back

There are hopeful signs of a small but significant fight back in Hollywood and the threat of a "red carpet revolution" ahead of the Oscars, but unless an industry-wide revolt is underway that we're not aware of, it's down to us to change things for ourselves.

"Be yourself, everybody else is already taken" said Oscar Wilde

It's not luck that we're all different - it's a crucial aspect of genetic diversity, necessary for the survival of our species. We are tall, we are short, we are apples and pears and everything in-between.

No amount of calorie restriction or exercise is going to make me look like Zoe Saldana. I don't have the bone structure to attain that level of thin, so if I aspire to look like that I can never be happy with what I have and never get what (I think) I want.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and the young women (and increasingly young men) in our lives to promote a healthy body image.

We need to aspire to what is healthy for us. Reach and maintain a healthy weight that is right for us and get on with living our lives to their fullest potential.

Now stand in front of the mirror and repeat after me: I LOVE MY BODY! And don't stop until you mean it!

What is your healthy weight?