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Motherbird vs Advertising

August 21, 2012

I have a younger sister and for all her shortcomings, including taking the largest bedroom in the house and hijacking the remote control, is a huge reason I try to be a good person.  I haven’t lived at home in 4 years, but whenever I spend time with her I make sure that I am the same person I was when I left: silly, childlike, and never too cool to be her friend.  I do this mostly because despite how much older or cooler they get, you can just tell when younger siblings simply miss you.

That said, as my sister has aged, she has became a little grown up.  She has a larger wardrobe and a competing social life, but the other day, when the Jonas Brothers were in town (New York City that is) she and 4 of her friends met at midnight to sleep on the side walk for their chance to meet the brothers.

I met them to say hi and take them out for crappy mid town pizza.  As we walked through Manhattan we passed all different kinds of advertising: Rihanna’s sultry profile, Potted Potter, and a life-sized Gap window displau with beautiful models running about a Gap Land where everyone has great outfits and a tiny waist.

This small pack of zesty 17-year-olds had very different shapes, skin colors, and hair colors.  They looked nothing like these models in Gap Land, but in a good way.  It wasn’t the most outrageous advertisement but something about walking by it with a group of real girls struck me as ironic.

We admit that seeing digitally altered perfection sends the message that perfect body shapes are possible and anything less is a work in progress.  In that mindset I thought to myself how upsetting to think that girls who did nothing but grow into what they are now, may feel the slightest bit of shame about what they looked like.  The thing is, obviously, this happens every day.  This life sized window display wasn’t traumatizing or special to them, because they see it all the time.

For some reason in that moment, on that block, I felt protective (I really have no idea why).  It’s fine if media and advertising hurts me, I’m handling it, but if it tries to tell my little sister that she’s not good enough or skinny enough- that’s another story.  If there is any reason to oppose the airbrushing and super thin models of the fashion industry it would be to protect girls who, despite their growing independence, are still children.  If we could eradicate the sense of self loathing of puberty and airbrushed perfection then maybe we could keep children’s focus on things like learning, playing, or friendship.

Maybe not all my sister’s pack of Jonas-loving friends felt the sting of comparative anatomy like I did when I was that age.  Yet, having felt this kind of pressure I can say I only wish young spirited girls wouldn’t have to walk by perfection through a window display.

When we think of issues and whether or not we want to stand up to them sometimes we should choose to do so not so much for us but for the people we care about.  Even if we know enough to reject digitally altered images, so many young girls and boys don’t know that they are perfect looking just the way they are.

Peace and Love,

M

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