Proud2Bme | Urban Outfitters and the "New Normal"

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Urban Outfitters and the "New Normal"

By Amanda Jones--When I first read the latest article on Urban Outfitters’ most recent body image blunder (TRIGGER WARNING: THIGH GAP AHEAD), I was outraged. Another clothing company using sickly looking thin models to display their product? Don't they know that impressionable young adults and teens will see that? But then the picture of the model loaded. I paused. Is this the right picture? I scrolled down to be sure, and then I looked at the picture carefully. The longer I looked at it, the more I noticed the tiny legs, the narrow waist, the shading of rib bones, and the blatant thigh gap. And hey wait, why are her legs apart like that? 

So I began asking my friends and family what they thought about the picture. One by one, they all came up with similar responses, completely unfazed by the strikingly thin model.

How is it that so many of us have become so desensitized to unhealthy media images that it doesn't even phase us?

The infuriating answer is because we see it all the time. And the more we see it, the more it becomes ingrained in us, the more it becomes the status quo. When influential, culture-shifting stores like Urban Outfitters perpetually use underweight and thin models to advertise their products, it works. We buy into it, and it feeds our shame. Unrealistic media images prey on our vulnerability and insecurities, creating an ideal of beauty defined by thinness, breast size, and flawless skin.

But here's the thing. We know nothing about the girl in the picture. We don't see the Photoshop. We don't see the airbrushing. We don't see the lengthy diets, exercise, and unhappiness that may accompany her. When we use unrealistic and unattainable pictures, we glorify something most of us cannot have. We glorify a standard of success that leaves us feeling incapable, inadequate, and insecure.

Sure, we could sit and argue about why major companies continue to use dangerously thin models, despite knowing the potential risks and dangers associated with it. We could even split hairs over whether or not the model is actually underweight or if that is indeed her natural figure. But, I think the real question here is what can we do about it?

Here are a few things you can do:

1. Question and talk to a trusted individual about your own beliefs, misconceptions, and thoughts about healthy body image and normalcy.

2. Boycott companies that continue to use underweight models and images that glorify the "thin ideal".

3. Support companies and product lines, like Modcloth, Asos, and Dear Kate that use diverse models of all weights and sizes.

4. Start a petition and report unhealthy media images when you see them! Spread the word on social media!

5. Avoid participating in behavior that promotes this type of media propaganda (e.g turn off the tv, toss the magazine, end unhealthy conversations, etc etc.)

6. Spread awareness and enlist others in the war on body image in the media!

The more we take a stand against a limited view of societal beauty, and celebrate body diversity instead, the more we build self-perceptions of capability, adequacy, and security.

About this blogger: Amanda Jones is a recent Marriage and Family Therapy graduate from Lee University. She enjoys yoga, nutrition, softball, writing, and playing the guitar. Inspired by her own recovery, Amanda is currently working on eating disorder research within couples therapy, and hopes to further develop an equine assisted psychotherapy program. 

For more on fashion and body diversity:

Hey, Lululemon CEO: Women's Bodies Aren't the Problem. Your Attitude Is.

Model Cameron Russell on Beauty Privilege and the Construction of Perfection

Memo to the Fashion Industry: Using Diverse Models Increases Your Sales

For more fashion-related body activism:

Activists Ask H&M to use Plus-Size Mannequins for their Plus-Size Line (Makes Sense, Right?)

Really, Abercrombie & Fitch? Why Aren't You Making Your Anti-Bullying Shirts in Plus Sizes?

Victory! Seventeen removes BMI Calculator From Its Website

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

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