Being pretty and being smart do not have to be mutually exclusive traits, but sometimes we’re made to feel like they are. I liked playing with Barbie, but I never wanted to grow up & be her. We all have self-esteem issues, but all for vastly different reasons.
One of the harshest fields is modelling. When you realise that today, Marilyn Monroe would be considered too big for a plus sized model, it puts into perspective how beauty is being viewed and presented.
As a self-proclaimed Top Model junkie, I was taking the question to Jay Manuel. Unfortunately, my nerves got the better of me and what I blurted out instead was “When is Top Model coming back to Canada?”
Apparently, I need to direct that question to CTV.
Fortunately, Jay’s friend, colleague and Top Model judge Stacey McKenzie was on hand. After un-tying my tongue, I asked her: Would you say that how media is portraying women is damaging to young women & their self-esteem?
“Yes, I agree with that.”
“You have to have a thick skin, you have to know you, love you and own you, for you to be able to be a part of a business that basically tells you you’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough. Even the media in general tells you what the mass considers pretty to be, and this is what you need to be in order to fit in.”
So how do we get out of that?
“In order for you not to get caught up in that, and not get caught up in all that, a person has to love and own who they are.”
I look around the room of fashionistas and incredibly thin women who clearly haven’t eaten since the ’90’s, and direct my focus back to Stacey.
“I was always told that I would never be, because I’m not the conventional type”
I interject -but excuse me, you are absolutely stunning.
“Well thank you but to this day it’s hard for me to hear that.”
Well, it shouldn’t be.
“You know what? I know me and I love me, but it’s still weird for me to hear people say that because I’m so used to people telling me I’m not. It was very tough when I wanted to be in this business that’s all about your looks first and foremost, and I was always told “look, don’t waste your time’. But I had this perseverance and I felt that this was meant for me, that this was my path and I had to keep going. And I would make my mark, and prove to everyone that I could do it and you can too/anyone can. As long as you believe in yourself and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”
“No matter what, we’re not going to be able to change that; all of that sells. So that’s why it’s up to the person to keep positive people in their lives that love and appreciate them, for me that’s the best way and the most for them to go. You have to love and own you, so you can go out there without being swayed. And it’s really tough.”
“It’s up to the person to realise that this is what god gave you to work with, make the best of it.”
That’s why I find Stacey fascinating. Because as sure as she is of herself, there’s something very self-defeatists in her last statement. Can’t we change it? Or is the truth that we don’t want to? In a time when obesity is escalating at an alarming pace, the size and shape of models is decreasing in matched proportions. We as a society are sending such mixed messages to ourselves, I sometimes find it staggering.
Stacey has a company called Walk This Way. She does modelling workshops, but she also does something more: she teaches you how to build self-esteem.
Maybe, we can start there.