This post is my humble contribution to a meme started by Historiann. I’m also going to riff off another post of hers on Brooke Shields. Now, my adolescent self would hardly have put these two together. I both hated and emulated her for those Calvin Klein ads — they were one of the (many) reasons I disliked my body. I dieted strenuously and got real skinny so I could fit into my pair of CKs. Other girls in my high school went further and were hospitalized for anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders.
In graduate school, I worked with Joan Jacobs Brumberg, and found that what she calls “bad body fever” has been a problem that has plagued women for at least a century. Now that I’m approaching middle age, I’m more tolerant about what my body looks like, even though women of a certain age — like Brooke — who still look fabulous have raised the bar considerably.
Well it turns out that Brooke also had a negative body image as an adolescent and young adult. So, to help out girls today, she works with the SMART girls program, sponsored Tupperware’s Chain of Confidence campaign (and before you start dissing Tupperware, keep in mind that this company started as a way for stay-at-home Moms to make their own money My Mom sold Tupperware — it pays pretty well, plus you get lots of freebies. I still loves the ones I got from her). Between that and her campaign to raise awareness and reduce stigma about postpartum depression, I now really like and admire her.
Another, non-corporate initiative that I like a lot is Love Your Body, sponsored by the National Organization for Women. It gives great advice on how to protest offensive ads and promote healthy body images. Organize an event on your campus — we do it every year at CCSU.