(Yes, I still have this magazine after all these years.)
How important is it to have people in media that remind you of yourself? As a teenager, this was more vital to me than I realized. If you remember the fashion of the mid to late 1990’s, the very thin body was in. It was even referred to as “heroin chic,” as if a person that looked like a drug addict should be the epitome of fashion. This was a backlash to the healthy, All-American look of the 1980’s and early 1990’s. Even at my tiniest, I was never thin. I’ve always had a bubble butt and round face (and later large hips and boobs). I looked nothing like the women in the magazines that I constantly read. I thought there was something wrong with me. Why couldn’t I be as skinny as these women?
This led me to what I now realize was an eating disorder. I skipped meals, in fact, I never ate lunch in school between seventh and twelfth grades. I would exercise for hours at a time. I was 112 pounds, but I was still curvy, not skinny. I still felt like some lumpy, irregular creature who never achieve her dream at the time, which was to be an actress in film and television. Then, finally came along two women whom I still admire to this day, Tyra Banks and Jennifer Lopez. (I’ll talk about Tyra in another post.)
I remember Jennifer Lopez dancing on In Living Color and acting on the short-lived television show, South Central (which was ahead of its time). She really captured my attention with her role in the movie, Selena. I remember her saying at the time that she was proud to flaunt her body in spandex and did not have not cover up like she did for other roles. Jennifer’s body was very anti-heroin chic. In fact, when I looked in the mirror, her body reminded me of my own. I finally came to the huge revelation that not only was there nothing wrong with my body, I could be proud of my shape even if it was not fashionable at the time.
Her body confidence is not the only reason why I admire Jennifer. She has accomplished an impressive amount in her career and broken down so many walls for minorities and women in the entertainment business. Some of her accomplishments include:
- First woman to have a number one album and film in the same week
- First Latin actress to earn over $1 million for a film
- Over 80 million records sold
- Cumulative film gross of $2.9 billion
Finally, here is one of my favorite body positive quotes from Jennifer.
“When I first started on television, people, and even my own manager at the time, would tell me I had to make all of these changes. But you have to stand up and say, ‘There’s nothing wrong with me or my shape or who I am; you’re the one with the problem!’ And when you can really believe that, all of a sudden other people start believing, too.”