Cindy Crawford Makes Me Feel Inadequate

Cindy CrawfordI recently asked my students to write down their thoughts on a nude-ish picture of Cindy Crawford to see if attitudes had changed since sociologist, Beth Eck, studied reactions more than a decade ago.

Dr. Eck found that these images made women feel bad about their own bodies.

Do they still?

Yes. But less so than a decade ago.

Young women seem to have a bit better body image these days. Maybe improved self image has been helped by increased questioning of beauty ideals and awareness of Photoshop, etc.

But still, Cindy made nearly half of the women feel bad about their bodies.

Cindy Crawford on Esquire

Cindy Crawford on Esquire

Around 40% said the picture made them feel insecure, or wish they were thinner, or wish they had bigger boobs, or wish they looked like her.

But about one-third also thought the image was unrealistic and probably Photoshopped. It’s possible that the women were noticing a sense of insecurity and working to overcome it by remembering that even supermodels don’t look like supermodels in real life.

A couple of women thought marketers wanted them to feel insecure in hopes of selling stuff.

I’m glad that things are improving. But we still have a ways to go.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on January 27, 2016, in body image, feminism, psychology, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 28 Comments.

  1. I guess it is good that body image is improving, but I tend to avoid magazines full of models because I just wind up feeling like shit.

    • They say looking at magazines full of models is one of the best ways to feel like shit. So best to avoid them!

      • A couple years ago I spent a week with a rather intense religious commune/farm in Spain. Most of their message was a bit much for me (I was just digging the free food, accommodation, and work, no pun intended) but I remember them saying something about how “The mind feeds through the eyes” so that when their kids went into town, with all it’s nudie magazines and topless beaches, they should basically just watch their shoes. On the one hand it smacked of sexual repression, but on the other…they were definitely onto something. (At least until the magazine industry finds its soul.)

      • It’s interesting how images can provoke a wide range of things like repression, low self-esteem, excitement…

  2. ​I was surprised but also very happy to read that women are having improved body image. As the media has expanded over the years so has our understanding of the tricks of photoshop. We understand that this photo was made to look perfect and in real life this person really isn’t what this picture is showing us. Over more recent years women have become more aware of body image being unique. I feel that more young women are understanding that we don’t need to have the perfect body. Another important factor to our improving body image is that even the supermodels are speaking up about this now. Saying even they have insecurities and are not as perfect as we all think. I think women are becoming more aware of body image issues because now men are experiencing the same issue. Before body image was mostly an issue for women but now that men are posted on magazine covers just as much they suffer too.

  3. “Around 40% said the picture made them feel insecure, or wish they were thinner, or wish they had bigger boobs, or wish they looked like her.

    But about one-third also thought the image was unrealistic and probably Photoshopped. It’s possible that the women were noticing a sense of insecurity and working to overcome it by remembering that even supermodels don’t look like supermodels in real life”

    In your last post, I was referring exactly to this. This feeling of insecurity and in an endeavour to overcome it, some women do make harsh comments on others.
    The obsession with physical beauty, the mindset that, that is what makes a woman superior, should be changed…it’s high time.

  4. The thought of progress, now that’s beautiful. Can’t photoshop it, either.

  5. I personally sometimes get pulled into how society indicates how a woman’s body should look, making me feel very insecure. Usually I feel this type of way after watching a music video or looking at a magazine. I do however know that most of these women’s bodies are unrealistic and are edited with photoshop to help sell some type of brand. Sometimes the woman’s body on the magazine or on tv may not be photoshopped but it’s unnatural and is usually enhanced by getting plastic surgery. Knowing this makes me feel a little better about myself I’d rather be natural and workout to get to where I want my body to be rather than become plastic and ruin my body with fillers and other nonsense. I think so many women around the world have fallen into the trap of getting these surgeries to look like these women who don’t even look like they do in magazines just to impress men or other women. The spread of word that all women are beautiful naturally would really help in the world we live in today.

  6. Although I do find her quite beautiful, this ‘nude-ish’ picture of Cindy Crawford doesn’t make me feel bad about my body. It’s probably because the times are changing, the sense of beauty is different today, I’m not saying Cindy Crawford wouldn’t be considered beautiful, but it’s not just about the body anymore, for me anyways. I can’t deny that there have been a few magazine body shots that did leave me completely insecure about the way I look (Beyonce in Shape Magazine, 2013) but what always get’s to me is how I can better my life to be like them rather than look like them.

    I’d like to think that others feel this way too; that having one hell of a bod is what will make you an amazing person but rather the drive and even the confidence to get one, and more, is what makes you a beautiful person.

  7. I actually loved how she wasn’t all skin and bones and even enjoyed her workout for awhile. I do think a lot of the insecurities she inspired stems from a culture that encourages women to be competitive with each other over being desirable to men. Another way to keep us separate rather than united.

  8. Slowly things are changing and maybe women will feel better with more attention to women of different sizes and bigger sizes in ads and media. I saw this on social media and think it’s cool and hopefully a step in the right direction and progression of appreciation for other body types. Ashley Graham is officially a sports illustrated magazine Swimsuit Issue model and is feature in a big part of the swimsuit edition this year I guess. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ashley-graham-sports-illustrated-swimsuit-issue-plus-size_us_56ae66abe4b00b033aaf8a06

    http://www.si.com/swim-daily/2016/01/20/ashley-graham-si-swimsuit-2016-rookie-reveal

    She’s a plus sized model I think you know this and I’ve said it before in case you haven’t. But I have to admit, I do think she has a sexy body, so I think it shows bigger women can be sexy and sex symbols too and plenty of men find bigger women or thick women sexy and skinny women sexy and in between. I’ve seen her interviews and she’s also sexy because she has a very outgoing, intelligent, playful, charming personality too go with her outer beauty. It’s interesting because while they are plenty of beautiful women who you know are smaller as models or entertainment etc, I think as far as her face goes, she’s prettier than many of the “hot” thin models shown, and she’s just really pretty.

    • Cool! Thanks for sharing this.

      • So not only is she in the sports illustrated magazine swimsuit issue, but even more so. I guess she is on the cover of the magazine. Her and two other women, I think depending on the region. Like some parts of america will get Ronda Rousey as the model on the cover, another region the other model and Ashley Graham for the other one. They do this with athletes on the cover sometimes with different ones based on different parts. Maybe it’s split by the west, mid west and east coast as far as the three models.

        But I thought to add more to this that you’d be happy about that. It shows like you’ve said how women feel about their bodies, because I see it from social media. The fact I even knew of this is because it was posted on my facebook newsfeed from a girl I’m friends with and she’s in my circle of friends and she liked it and shared the post showing ashley graham as the model on the front cover page, which is a big deal for a swimsuit model. And I’ve seen other girls liked and post it or similar stuff. And I read the comments and, unfortunately there are some “trolls” and d bag guys, but I’d say there were definitely more men that liked or though she looked sexy, and how they love women who look like real women or saying how she was sexy and women are varying sizes are sexy. I knew there’s still more progress needed but I thought I’d share some optimism which I think is always good to see positive steps taken. Here’s the link.

        http://www.si.com/swim-daily/2016/02/14/editors-letter-how-we-chose-2016-si-swimsuit-covers

  9. http://www.si.com/swim-daily/2016/02/11/ashley-graham-si-swimsuit-2016-cover

    I guess this was the actual link of just her, my bad. Though the other one was fine too as it did talk about her or show her, but also the other women too. It’s cool Ronda was picked too, because people see her as empowering since she’s headling women’s sports and brought main stream attention back to women in sports because of her dominance in mma. So a non model, but top female athlete is good too to go with a full figured woman as ashley graham.

  10. Women tend to be very critical of their own body image. I’m not surprised that seeing Cindy Crawford makes many women feel inadequate of themselves. I don’t feel that way about myself. I did not grow up in USA, and was not exposed to too much media during my childhood. In my younger adulthood, I was exposed to some but I think because since I was not exposed to all these media during childhood (1 – 18 years old), I do not feel the need to compare myself to other women, what their body shape is like, their faces, their hair, clothes and much more. I do believe strongly that the environment one grows up in affect how they feel about themselves, the cultural that was passed down from the generation before to them could affect how one view themselves. And since gender roles and identity is socially constructed, one cannot get away from how others view them especially in America where media is mainly manipulated by male-dominance society. They used what sell the best, women as a sex object to lure men and women included to their products.

  11. I don’t think that when women were saying it may have been photoshopped that they were feeling insecure about their own bodies. I know a lot of times, for me, I know that these magazine and pictures of models are photoshopped and I don’t think of anything other than, “thats fake”. It’s not me trying to brush off my insecurities but rather acknowledging that no one really looks like that and that there is no true definition as to what it means to be beautiful, hot or sexy. I think it’s all a state of mind. And because they are photoshopped, I believe that even models like Cindy Crawford, wished she truly looked like that!

    • I guess it could go either way. Some do and some don’t. In my own case I notice that I do feel a little insecure and then think about the fact that they are probably Photoshopped — which makes me feel better.

  12. I definitely agree that covers of magazines such as the one Cindy Crawford was featured in does indirectly pressures women to an expectation that being thin is beautiful. Although over the years we have learned that magazines as such do Photoshop these images, I feel it still has not stopped the mentality of young women living up to that expectation of looking like a models. The persistence of one particular beauty ideal in fashion and mainstream media, as well as social media that one can rarely accommodate a roll of fat, bulge of muscle or a pinched of aged skin has a great deal to do with it. Even though one third of people think it’s unrealistic and know that models do not look like the covers in real life. It’s amazing to me that in 2015 the US there were 15.9 million total cosmetic procedures that included, breast augmentation, liposuction, Rhinoplasty, eyelid surgery, and tummy tucks all to improve body image. I personally think it had has gotten way out of control. What puzzles me is why would someone change what makes them unique about themselves.

    One of my favorite Images this year was of Amy Schumer and Serena Williams who was photographed by Italian tire-maker Pirelli has releases an annual calendar full of photos of supermodels in pin-up poses wearing skimpy lingerie or nothing at all. Both Amy and Serena had had been targeted by body-shamers on Instagram over the past year. Their gorgeous images do more to turn that shame around on their bullies than any Instagram comment war ever could. I think it’s the bravery of these women that celebrate natural beauty is what helping women not be ashamed of their body and ignore superficial criticism. I agree that even things are improving we do still have a long ways to go.

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