Plus Size

Challenging Beauty Standards: The Role of Plus Size Representation in Media

Challenging Beauty Standards: The Role of Plus Size Representation in Media

For centuries, society has seen beauty through a one-dimensional lens – thin and athletic – with only a handful of celebrities being praised as the ideal of beauty. But as generations transformed, so did beauty standards. Plus-size models and influencers started appearing front and center in the media, challenging and redefining the traditional view of what it means to be beautiful. It’s time to take a look at how the inclusion of plus-size representation has revolutionized the way we view beauty.

1. Breaking the Mold: Examining Plus Size Representation in Media

As society evolves and becomes increasingly more aware of different body types, the roles of plus size people in media have grown dramatically. We’ve moved beyond the days of one-dimensional characters, clichéd tropes, and token representation. Here’s a look at some of the trailblazers in plus size lending representation and debunking the stigmas associated with it.

  • Rebel Wilson: From her breakout role in Pitch Perfect to her more recent projects, Rebel Wilson has become one of the most visible plus size actors currently working in television and film. She is unapologetic in her mission to redefine the standards of beauty and shift our perceptions of plus size while paving the way for other members of the community.
  • Lizzo: An groundbreaking artist, one of Lizzo’s most visible goals is to break down the stereotypes about plus sized people and normalize beauty for everyone. Her award-winning music not only encourages body positivity, but acts as a reminder to society that plus size people are to be celebrated instead of judged.

As the roles of plus size people in media become more prominent, we’re starting to see more acceptance for those of different sizes and shapes. Iconic figures like these are proving size doesn’t dictate self-worth or beauty—and the industry is finally catching on.

2. Breaking Free From Stereotypes: The Impact of Positive Role Models

We all look up to role models; those figures in our lives who motivate, inspire and encourage us to make positive changes. Positive role models have an amazing impact on our lives because they push us to strive for something bigger and better. They can help us break free from limiting beliefs and predetermined paths.

When it comes to breaking free from stereotypes, having positive role models can have a ripple effect. Seeing someone achieve something tangible outside of the norm motivates us to do the same. It shows us that just because “X” is expected from us, doesn’t mean we have to do it. As a result, more people are encouraged to follow their passions and dreams, despite what they might hear from their peers or family.

  • Inspire – Positive role models push us to strive for something bigger and better
  • Growth – Seeing someone achieve something outside of the norm motivates us to do the same
  • Achieve – Prompts us to take action and put our goals and dreams into action

3. Denouncing Discrimination: The Role of Brands in Challenging Beauty Standards

Beauty standards have been around for centuries, but in the age of media, the beauty industry has been more brazenly promulgating the concept of an “ideal” look. Perpetuating these unrealistic expectations can have a damaging effect on people’s self-esteem, causing concern at all levels in the fashion and beauty industry.

An increasing number of brands are standing up to discrimination and tackling the beauty standards clung to by society. Here are some steps they are taking:

  • Celebrating inclusivity: Brands are eschewing traditional standards of beauty and instead representing a broader range of ethnicities, body types and genders.
  • Showcasing diversity: Brands are actively seeking out a wider range of models and celebrating individual identity.
  • Encouraging acceptance: Brands are ardently against the airbrushing of models and celebrating individual quirks as normal.

Consequently, the fashion and beauty industry is no longer solely about selling products. It is now about selling a concept of self-acceptance and embracing differences.

4. Reframing the Conversation: Moving Toward Equality in Media Representation

Media representation has been an ongoing issue, from the days of the earliest films to today’s digital content. What defines an accurate, diverse portrayal of the world in these mediums? How can inclusivity and equality be truly achieved through them? It’s time for us to reframe the conversation and consider how best to move forward.

We should start by recognizing that media representation isn’t only about representation of marginalized groups, but of all kinds of people in a way that’s both accurate and sensitive. Here are some elements that need to be a part of this representation:

  • A true representation of diversity, taking into consideration gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, physical abilities and more.
  • Strategic choices that showcase curtailed stereotypes. We have to put an end to the perpetuation of tired tropes and tired characters.
  • An effort to eliminate problematic story lines from our screens and create new, more ethical ones instead.
  • Encouraging powerful female characters and narratives that defy patriarchal norms and tropes.

By taking these points into consideration, we can strive towards a more equitable and respectful approach to representation in media.

All in all, challenging beauty standards is a hard fight, but it is becoming more and more mainstream – thanks to the courageous plus size representation we’ve seen in the media. It’s clear that there are still steps to be taken to reach true acceptance, but the journey so far has been encouraging. We should continue to celebrate those who choose to liberate themselves from traditional beauty roles and redefine happiness with their bodies.

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