The Internet may be rife with images of models and actresses, wacky diets that promise instant weight loss and the latest trick to melt belly fat, but as much as it may pander toward women’s insecurities with their physical appearance, it has also proven to be a platform like none other to further the movement for promoting positive beauty and body image and self-esteem among women.
“The simple messages on a Hallmark Card, for example, can be beneficial in the moment, but to make a permanent mind shift, I believe we need to have more of a conversation so we can understand what the ‘not pretty enough’ feeling is actually masking and then deal with that stuff,” says Jennifer Tress, author of “You’re Not Pretty Enough.” (Read more about Tress’ inspiring story here.)
The Internet allows that conversation to flow, and more and more women have been steadily joining it, says Patricia Colli, a Philadelphia-based graphic designer and founder of the online magazine “Beutiful.”
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Colli, who battled insecurities with her appearance for years, credits the widespread use of the Internet and social media with helping her find out how many other women felt the same way as she did. “Beutiful” began as a newsletter and a small e-mail blast, but as more and more people began contributing to the conversation, it morphed into a bi-monthly magazine that highlights real people and focuses on encouraging women to break through the barriers that prevent them from having a life of fulfillment and satisfaction.
“We don’t use any photoshopped images and we want to be diligent about what ads we feature because we want to promote the idea of healthy,” Colli says. “It’s not about selling something to someone because they have a flaw.”
The magazine’s Suit Urself swimsuit campaign, which will run until the middle of September and features bathing suit pictures from a cross section of readers, has been a huge success, she says, because “people were so happy to see other real bodies and overcome their fears and accept themselves, and go for the real part of this, which is enjoying the summer.”
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Colli believes that the conversation online is only going to heat up and has powerful potential for not only changing the ways in which women view and feel about themselves, but also for having a broader impact on society and the media.
“One of the most powerful things happening today is people reaching out and talking about what upsets them and the more people talk, the more companies and advertisers will have to listen,” she says. “This is a great time for body and beauty image discussions.”