This weekend, the city of San Francisco saw some skin as protesters stripped down to promote diverse and realistic body images.
The protesters hailed from About-Face, an organization geared toward teaching young women how to "understand and resist harmful media messages that affect their self-esteem and body image."
And where better to stage a body-image protest than Victoria's Secret? The protesters — including one male participant — gathered in front of the storefront and striped down into bras and underwear; their message was that "not everybody needs to be like that in order to be attractive, in order to be awesome in general," said Jennifer Berger, Executive Director of About-Face.
To understand the misleading and distorted body image that About-Face is protesting against, look no further than the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show. The televised event is a spectacle: models Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio and Candice Swanepoel dance down the runway to live musical performances sporting lingerie too ornate to be sold. They flaunt washboard abs and toned limbs that seem humanly unattainable. It is the exact message that the About-Face protesters are acting out against.
These protesters revealed their bodies — curves and all— in order to counteract the unrealistic and harmful body images portrayed by the media. Some held signs reading "I pledge to love my body," while others offered "tips for body-love," but the message was clear. Images presented by the media, including the Victoria's Secret advertisements, are not realistic and they are not the norm. If young women can understand and accept that such flawless figures are not a standard to be attained, they may begin to embrace their bodies.
The protest strikes a chord with the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty that the brand launched in 2004. Both are firm reminders that the image presented by the media is often unrealistic. More importantly, there is not one way to define beauty.
The About-Face members organized themselves proudly and without a trace of self-consciousness, testifying to the fact that beauty comes not only in all different shapes and sizes, but also from within. It is not jean-size or how one looks in a bikini that defines character, and confidence is the key to loving oneself.