The media's obsession with women's bodies
Updated: Jun 3
Billie Eilish and Jesy Nelson, formerly of Little Mix, have spoken out about how their body image has been affected by social media, fans and mental health.
Have you ever looked at yourself in a mirror and thought horrible things about your body? Yes? Well, you are not alone. We all have dealt with body image issues at some point in our lives. I have been in a love/hate relationship with my body for most of my life and I’m constantly comparing myself to what I see online. I am nearly 6 feet tall and a bit on the plus side.
Growing up, I was always the tallest girl in my class at school, being constantly put in the back for school pictures. Coming into adulthood, my body changed and I became curvier. I also have a rare genetic condition that means I look slightly different to others, in that I have had to have reconstructive surgery to my skull. I also have scoliosis, which is a curvature to the spine. There are parts of my body that have been affected by my health, which I can’t control. I never really saw people like me on TV, film or even social media. All the girls that were my age on TV or film were always petite or skinny.
Now, though there are still parts of me that I don’t like, however, I am learning to love other parts of me. From my long legs to the freckles on my face and arms. We all need to be accepting of ourselves and each other, whether it be on social media or in our day to day lives. Celebrities need to take more responsibility because their fans can be vulnerable and possibly naive in believing that what they see is real. However, it is often a distorted and filtered image without any reality.
Olivia Louise, a UK based artist, recently released a song about body image called “Body”. The song is about womens’ body image and how every body is beautiful both inside and out. Olivia told Cactus City that she would rather be her own beautiful and powerful self than be someone who only changes their image to please others.
‘What a shame that we only find beauty in the things that are prescribed to us. How limiting that is.The thing is, we try to contort ourselves to fit these beauty ideals, but the box is continuously shrinking. The game is already rigged and who will see you when you’ve reduced your mind, body and self esteem enough to finally squeeze into that box? What will be left of you? Let me tell you there is nothing more beautiful and powerful than taking up the space that you stand in. Phuck the box.’
Like most women with body image issues, this can have a massive impact on mental health. Two amazing artists; Billie Eilish and Jesy Nelson have spoken out about their own experiences to show that celebrities are human just like the rest of us.
19 year old Billie Eilish, who won Best International Female solo artist at Brit Awards 2021, had heads turning with her recent British Vogue Magazine cover. She went from a girl in baggy clothes to a glamorous goddess in a blink of an eye.
“If you want to get surgery, go get surgery. If you want to wear a dress that somebody thinks you look too big wearing, F**k it- IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU LOOK GOOD, YOU LOOK GOOD.”- Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish is well known for wearing baggy clothes and her signature black hair with green roots. Earlier this year, she made a drastic change to her appearance by going platinum blonde. With her new look, Billie wants to remind girls they can be “exactly who you feel you are and want to be in that moment”.
She’s chosen to sexualise herself rather than let the media sexualise her. This means she took control of her own narrative and sexuality by being her own unique self. Billie recently came out with a new song called ‘Your Power’, where she sings about her experience being abused when she was younger. In her interview with Vogue, Bille explains that the song acts as an “open letter to people who take advantage” of vulnerable individuals. In the end of the interview, she says “even permanent things can be undone”.
“Now when I look at trolls being nasty, I feel a bit sorry for them. The only way I can understand it is that being nasty makes them feel better in themselves.”- Jesy Nelson.
Jesy Nelson, formerly of Little Mix, filmed a documentary for the BBC called “Jesy Nelson: Odd one out” in 2019. This documentary focused primarily on her mental health and body image. Out of the four girls in Little Mix, Jesy was seen as the ‘fat’ one, even though she was skinny. The media always compared Jesy unfairly with her former bandmates.
In an article published by Vogue Magazine UK, Fiona Campbell (controller of BBC 3) said “BBC Three has a rich history of delivering impactful films and we’re really pleased that we can provide a platform for Jesy to tell her story. As a young female in a successful girl band where intense scrutiny from the public is the norm, Jesy offers a unique perspective on the impact social media can have on an individual and their mental health. It promises to be an eye-opening watch, full of universal themes which will no doubt resonate with our audience.”
‘Jesy Nelson: Odd one out’ highlights how positive and negative the relationship between social media and mental health/body image can be. In the documentary, Jesy says “I find it really sad that society is just so fixated and obsessed with the way people look.” Social media can take control of what people perceive as beautiful.
We need to take back control and know that everyone is beautiful, both on the inside and out. If you feel affected by your mental health, then please do get help. Here is a list of great organisations that are always there to help you:
Music Minds Matter 0808 802 8008 (24/7 helpline, free of charge).
Music Support 0800 030 6789 (Open 9am - 9pm on weekdays, 10am - 8pm on weekends)
Mind 0300 123 3393 (Open weekdays 9am - 6pm).
Heads Together https://www.headstogether.org.uk/get-support/