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Friday, June 26, 2009

Mixed messages don't get more confusing than this

I just came across a Fox newsflash about a Shape Magazine article, called "Country's Leading Ladies Discuss Body Image, Confidence and Jessica Simpson!"

In this piece, Martina McBride, Julianne Hough, and LeAnn Rimes talk about their concern for young women who base their beauty ideals and self-esteem on "what they see in TV or in magazines." They also talk about how hard it is to maintain self-confidence and be a star under scrutiny.

But wait, yup, their photo on the cover of the magazine shows them in bikinis, looking teeny and flawless (next to other cover article headlines about losing weight and looking good). These women are famous because they are *musicians,* yet their appearance is just as important to their success as a model's. While they recognize that being ostracized over appearances can be really hurtful, they also contribute to the social norm that being worried about 'being beautiful' is important: “I’m 26 and I’m still a little self-conscious about my looks," Rimes admitted. "When I was a kid, I had psoriasis over 80 percent of my body. Luckily, I’ve found a medicine that helps control it, but I never know when it will stop working or if I’ll have to deal with it again. It’s still a struggle, but as you get older, I think your perspective changes."

So while the stars try to be candid and encourage women to feel confident, they are simultaneously icons on the front of a magazine who fall into the same shape and size as the prescribed ideal.

Is there any way for celebrities to break out of this mixed messaging? Is there any way for everyone else to stop our collective obsession with looks?

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