Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Price of Beauty

I have to say.. for someone who has undergone SO much public scrutiny, Jessica Simpson appears to have a pretty good head on her shoulders! While I obviously don't know her (and therefore am probably not qualified to make such a statement- ha), I did watch her recent interview with Oprah and I was really impressed by some of the things that she had to say about beauty and the ways that women think about their bodies.

Jessica Simpson went on Oprah to promote her new reality show, The Price of Beauty, that is airing on VH1 (I think it premieres Monday night, March 15th at 10pm) that she was inspired to make after being criticized by the media about her weight and her appearance. I'm sure you all remember (or at least have heard about) the 'mom jeans' incident that occurred this past fall... She was ridiculed for wearing a pair of high-waisted jeans (she described them as her 'mom jeans' haha) and people worldwide were commenting on and writing stories about a photo of her that was taken in this outfit- saying she had gained weight. It was interesting to hear her speak so openly about how this experience impacted her and the degree to which she had to fight to stay strong and confident about her body and her appearance. Her vulnerabilities were real. And to hear someone, who is deemed beautiful in the eyes of the world, share how her self-esteem had severely waivered was sad-- and yet in some ways, relatable for women all across America. It just goes to show that no one is immune to the struggle of body image and self-loathing, and that the media can have a powerful impact on how we feel about ourselves! Simpson shared that she had not spoken openly about the incident until now because she was afraid that by talking about the media calling her fat, she would impress upon other women that they too were fat if they looked anything like her, or happened to be larger than she was (which is most of society!). As she said, and as is true, beauty comes in all sizes, shapes, colors, forms and styles; this was one of the things that motivated her to produce her show.

Simpson's show examines beauty in cultures all over the world. It sounds like traveling and meeting women from different countries was a healing experience for her, and one that she is hoping will be healing for other people as they watch. The way that interacting with women from different cultures and learning about beauty in other countries helped her to gain confidence and a new awareness of the beauty that she had within. Oprah showed a clip from her show (a scene actually where Jessica met with a former French supermodel who was severely anorexic) and Simpson was crying a little bit when the clip ended. Oprah asked her why she was crying, and she said, "It makes me very emotional because the pressure that women feel to be thin or to be beautiful, the pressure that the media puts on women is so unfair and so disgusting, and if i can do something to make it better for people.. that's the reason why I did this show." While the media does not make people anorexic, the media certainly effects the way that we view our bodies and beauty- and it has taken a major toll on too many of our self-esteems and body images!!

Oprah ended the segment by asking her what she had learned about beauty through all of her experiences and how she defines it. Her words? "No one can define it [beauty] but myself. Nobody's words, nobody's compliments, nobody's love. It is all within myself." I think that her message of beauty being within us is an important one. Of course we can have fun with our clothes, our hair, our make-up if we choose to do so, but that is NOT what makes us beautiful- nor is it the size of our jeans, our thighs or our boobs. The things that cannot be seen, the traits and qualities that make us who we are are the things that make us beautiful.

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