It’s no secret that we are all obsessed, more than ever before, with’ beautiful people’ and many of us go to drastic measures to achieve what we think is the picture perfect image of a beautiful person.
‘America the Beautiful’ is a film that exposes how this has happened, and how the media has played a massive role in this obsession that is sometimes destroying lots of young people’s lives.
No one can deny, that most women’s magazines (and men’s too!) will have articles on new diets and also stories about building self esteem with titles like’ Learn to love yourself’, yet, they will have glamorous ads with young girls who are as young as 14, who are more often than not, dressed as sexy women.
This Film, by Daryl Roberts is a must see for all young girls and even young males.
The film mainly revolves around 12 year old Gerren. She is a runway model who works in LA and New York. With her mother’s permission (and more than that, she pushes her too!) she tries to make it big in the bright lights of these huge cities known for their fashion industry.
You get to see her on the catwalk, and let me tell you it’s quite shocking because she does appear to be just like Naomi Campbell, with that similar sexy strut.
Its only when you see her off the catwalk that you realise she is no where near a grown women, she really is 12. She still plays with dolls and jokes around like young girls do.
In the Fashion Industry, she is quickly swallowed up and spat out. One year she was 'in' with all the designers wanting to work with her, then the next year she was 'out'
Gerren begins to see herself as ugly because the fashion world, who once gave her praise, now don't want to work with her.
Gerren's natural instinct was to think, 'I am no good, fat and ugly.' The question is, how was her self esteem formed in the first place?
HOW IT ALL STARTS:
Young children these days are bombarded more than ever by sexy images. In the film, many young children are interviewed about how these picture perfect images in magazines, on TV and in movies, makes them feel.
Its very sad to see these cute young girls, who are not even hitting puberty, saying that they think they are 'horribly ugly' because they do not look like these models in the magazines.
I can really relate to this myself, and find that I am in a strange situation now because I can relate to this, yet I am part of the problem because now I do model and I am an 'Eco Campaigner' Well, the word 'Eco' to me means exposing the truth and doing the right thing and being kind to people and the planet.
So, I am telling the world, the lengths I went to fit into this beauty obsessed world.
Growing up, I was super skinny and with the name Anna, I was called 'Anna Anorexic' or 'bones' for years. Even by some of my teachers who pointed out during class that 'some of us in this room have an eating disorder' whilst the students all looked and laughed at me.
I was constantly bullied by kids and even changed schools so that I could find some peace. That didn't really last though as the girls at my new school were horrible as well, teasing me constantly, seemingly knowing how to hit me where it hurt the most - my looks.
I did not have an eating disorder, I was just naturally very thin, as it was in my families genetic makeup, but no one ever really believed that. They just assumed that I made myself like this. What is quite wrong with this, was, what if I did have an eating disorder? Surely them teasing would have made it worse?
I grew up hating my body and my face. I hated my nose which was crooked (people thought it had been broken) and I thought it was too big for my face. I also hated my chin because it was very small and my profile was not in balance.
I would feel like I was like Jekyl and Hyde, one side (front on) of my face was quite nice and the other (profile view) was just hideous. I felt like I was trapped in this weird world of being ugly and ok. What was the true me? The ugly version or the ok one?
Despite feeling like this, I always wanted to be a model. Thats all I would think about was that I wanted to be accepted as pretty and that my life would be perfect if I could say that I was a model.
I didn't do very well academically at school, so for me, I didn't really focus on my brain, I gave up thinking that was going to help me get anywhere in life, it was always about my looks and how I could look ok if I changed this or that.
I spent many hours EVERY day for years and years, thinking about how I looked and one day vowed to change my face with surgery.
In 2006 at the age of 28, my 'dream' came true. I saved up for a year and booked in to have the operation done a few days after my engagement party to my now husband, Nat.
I was petrified of dying under the anesthetic as I knew some people occasionally do and that it is a big risk. But guess what? My vanity outweighed that risk. I thought well, I have to just pray that I am ok.
This is me, waking up about 30 minutes after the operation. Not a nice sight is it? I vomited a whole bowlful of blood after this picture was taken. I had swallowed it all during the surgery and as soon as I groggily woke, up, I needed to throw it up.
I felt incredibly sore and for that first night, the nurses had to keep a close eye on me to make sure my blood pressure was ok. It was very very high when I came out of surgery and I remember them coming in to check on me quite a lot.
Years later, after visiting a doctor who specialises in cardiac medicine, said that I have some heart damage and that operations such as these could possibly have killed me because my previous health history showed no signs of this problem.
My fear of dying under the anesthetic could have come true.
The next day, I had to go through another traumatic experience. Removing the packing (which was stuffed up my nose to absorb the blood so that I didn't constantly swallow it) is positvely horrible, I had no idea how much cotton wool was in there, it was literally like noodles and blood came pouring out. It was disgusting and I had no idea what I was in for.
I was in so much pain for about a week. With the chin implant being the worst painful part because to insert it they cut open an area in your mouth, in front of your bottom teeth and slide (shove in I should say its not gentle!) the implant in, under the muscle and stitch up. You can imagine why it hurt! I had bruising all over my face, my eyes of course but I also had bruising on my chest right down the throat. I was very surprised at the length to my bruising. The operation had caused so much trauma and stress on my body.
On the 3rd day I cried my eyes out, as I just kept looking worse and felt more pain, I kept saying why did I do this?? It hurt so much and the painkillers were not helping at all, I would take some, and the pain wouldn't ease yet I couldnt take anymore and had to wait it out. After a few days, my mum and Nat were getting sick of me whinging because they felt I had chosen this and should deal with my choices and to stop moaning. But I couldn't the pain was just immense.
A week after having the surgery, I had to get the stitches taken out which was quite uncomfortable. They were in the bottom of my nose, between the nostrils. Pulling them out made my eyes water to the point where I had tears running down my cheeks.
After seeing my new nose, I was quite happy, the difference actually was amazing. But, thats not to say it was a perfect job. I have a bit of bone on the one side of my nose (near the bridge on my cheek) that needed to be chiseled (they do this with tools that look like what a carpenter has, yes a hammer!) more. I also feel a bit of bone that sticks out a bit in my right eye socket.
And for me to fix those things, I would have to go under the knife, again! So that is another risk too, that you don't get what you think you are going to get and it may leave you with another problem!
I am also very lucky, that nothing went majorally wrong for me. Because, it IS possible to die under anesthetic. For any operation yes but I guess why risk it just for your looks?
When we are little, we don't even think we have faults. Its only when someone points them out (or makes them up!) that we start and focus on that and think, 'something is wrong with me because they said so, it must be true!'
Maybe for me, it was because that mean boy back in grade 9 who I had a huge crush on said to my friend, 'Anna is a nice girl but she has a horrible nose, is way too skinny, I couldn't go out with her'. I also remember one boy who I liked said, ''Tell Anna to go away, and come back not so ugly.''
As you can imagine, those comments stuck with me and were part of the cause with my obsession of being 'pretty'.
I spent years focusing on wanting to be thought of as attractive and obsessed with the whole modeling dream.
Now that its come true, I could say that the '`law of Attraction' helped for this to happen because I imagined myself doing this, but at the end of the day, I paid money to cut and chisel and implant my face so that I could be more 'acceptable'.
What worries me today is that people don't realise that many of these women we see in movies, magazines etc have had procedures like I have had done to look the way that they do. Some women are naturally beautiful but the large majority of celebrities have had a bit of help!
People need to know the extent that some women will go to be 'socially acceptable' and also in the public eye and thought of as perfect. They aren't. No one is!
On another note, in defense to some people, models that I know, they are born with amazing features and a great figure. Not all models are anorexic! Many are, but lots aren't so its not right to assume that all skinny girls have an eating disorder. It's actually not fair to them. They were just lucky.
What I think should happen is that advertising and fashion pictures should be labeled 'model is heavily airbrushed' if they have had major photoshop work done.
I think its a big ask to actually ban airbrushing, as some people want, but to at least label something is a start.
I want to share with you some of my own personal pictures.
Have a look at these two pictures below the post of me for examples of before and after.
Whilst I dont think the picture is photoshopped as much as some images are that end up in magazines (where they move peoples facial features around), in that you can still tell its me I guess, but it is still very distorted. My face is no where near as chiseled as that and I had some arm skin hanging out the back which has magically been removed.
Some of you may think of me now as a hypocrite. Here I am as 'Miss Eco Glam' talking about all things natural and now I have just admitted that I have had plastic surgery, and not just once but twice. I also had my breasts enlarged almost 4 years ago, two years after my facial surgery. And my god, the pain for the boob job was way worse. Three days of not going to the toilet as least as possible because to get up off the bed would make me cry and cry with pain. It was absolute hell.
The reason why I am 'coming out' is that I just want people to realise, that rarely is someone, 'what they seem' in the beauty and fashion industry. Even if someone has not had surgery and are in ads or on TV, you can all bet that they have been retouched or filmed through special flattering film (think Ugly Betty style film where everyone glows!)
I also am quite ashamed, since becoming very interested in knowing about the horrors of animal testing, that my implants were tested on animals so that women like me could have them done. I did not know this till last year and it makes me sick!
I get a lot of nice compliments about certain pictures that my facebook friends see and sometimes it breaks my heart to hear that a girl will say, "oh Anna I wished I looked like you, you are perfect''.
That girl does not see me when the makeup comes off, and when I am just the normal girl at home who really is quite plain and not perfect! If I went out without make up and nice clothes, no one would notice me one bit!
I wanted to do this because I am a very honest person, and I feel like its time to tell the truth about my looks. I still regard myself as a 'natural girl' at heart but thats only to do with my eco views and ways of the world. I realise that my body and face have been manipulated and I look like a relatively new person.
I got sucked into wanting to fit in to society as well, I was bullied because of my looks at school, felt ugly and therefore always aspired to change my 'faults' so that I could tell myself 'I am ok now'.
The only problem is, for women like me that have developed our self esteem through compliments, what will happen to our self esteem when those compliments dry up and men don't look at us anymore and we aren't given attention for what we look like?
Well its the cycle continued again isn't it, these older women, trying to look young with MORE surgery and they usually end up looking like freaks because they can't just age naturally. They become addicted to surgery like its no big deal.
I want to try and stop that from happening to me and I want YOU to care about and value yourself more than what you look like.
We need to find other ways to help us truly love ourselves in the right sense, from the things we offer the world, how we treat our friends and family.
That's what I am working on these days, trying to learn to love myself in the right way and developing a sense of achievement by doing things for others. This will help me to build better self esteem, rather than getting attention and praise by focusing on my looks.
My wish for everyone is that they are not so hard on themselves and see the beauty inside, this is whats important!
Check out the movie's trailer below