THREAD 2022

Society's Constant Subjection to the Edited Image of Models

BY JENNA LANGDON


As a society, we’re constantly being subjected to images of models.

Globally, 4.48 billion people actively use social media; many of us scroll aimlessly on Instagram or TikTok simply to pass time, an activity that we would assume is harmless. However, the algorithm which works in favour of people with ‘dream bodies’, or perfectly symmetrical faces,  is a threat to our body image and self-worth because without even knowing it sometimes, we become captivated or desperate to have what they see, which feeds the algorithm to show us these videos time and time again. When we look up from our screens, we pass window displays with size 4 mannequins that have some dimensions so abnormal that they could never replicate a real person's body. Then once we get home and switch on the TV, we see a perfume ad featuring the flawlessly edited Cara Delevingne, Gigi Hadid, or Kendall Jenner.

The problem with this is that these select models, all of very similar proportions, supposedly represent all of us. Even when ‘plus-size’ models like Ashley Graham are shown, we see no cellulite or slight neck rolls because they're smoothed over; after all, all our bodies are smooth, aren't they?

Studies show that 88% of women compare themselves to pictures on social media, and according to a2017 Harris Poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans edit their pictures before posting them. Is it, therefore, a wonder that over half of us describe our comparisons against social media posts to be unfavourable?

Subconsciously, this image of smooth skin, thin waists, and long legs can get stuck in our minds and doesn't want to shift. Clearly, social media is shaping our concept of beauty and idealising certain body types, but with trends changing from Kim Kardashian's reconstructed curves, to flat stomachs to allow for the trend of 90’s low-rise jeans, its increasingly important to remember that our bodies are not created as ‘trends’ which pass in and out of fashion. We must fight to accept our bodies and reject the trends and models that try to affect our identity and perceived image of ourselves; after all, anybody can wear low-rise jeans, yet the trends of social media would lead us to believe that your stomach has to be flat.

Incorrect sizing additionally perpetuates this negative image and translates yet another false image of bodies, yet this time it's our own body that they use to lie to us. Pictures circulating Twitter have shocked women everywhere as they show how a supposedly ‘standard size 8’ pair of jeans can shape shift in size from store to store. Often when we try on something that we believe is supposed to fit us , instead of criticizing the store's sizing system we criticize ourselves; but we must remember that our clothes should be made to fit us, we should not strive to fit our clothes. The average UK woman's clothes size is 16 yet that has never been represented in mainstream fashion advertisements and stores, which instead perpetuate the idea that mainstream beauty standards are normal, and our bodies are not.

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Durham University Charity Fashion is a Durham SU student group whose details are: Durham Students’ Union (also known as Durham SU or DSU) is a charity registered in England and Wales (1145400) and a company limited by guarantee (07689815), and its principal address is Dunelm House, New Elvet, DURHAM, County Durham, DH1 3AN