Harmful Body Image Perceptions

I admit it, I love guilty pleasure chick flicks. And one which fully engages all of my angst-driven feminine drama is the 1981 film, “Mommie Dearest,” starring Faye Dunaway as the legendary screen star, Joan Crawford. The movie was based on the tell-all book written by the star’s adopted daughter, Christina Crawford.

It’s now become a part of popular culture. We’ve heard one of the most famous lines repeated in jokes and commentary. According to the book and film, Christina endured a traumatic rage episode in which her mother, having a meltdown, snaps when she sees a wire hanger in Christina’s closet. I guess only satin and lace hangers were acceptable. Whatever that represented to Ms. Crawford, she became unhinged, shrieking the now famous line, “No wire hangers ever!” From there, Ms. Crawford throws all of the dresses out of the closet, onto to floor and proceeds to beat Christina with the wire hanger, all, of course, in an emotional upset. There was crying and screaming from both mother and daughter.
I know, fun times.

So, why am I mentioning this? The wire hangers made me recall an article I read on the fashion industry. Stay with me now. The question asked was concerning why models had to be so thin for the clothes the designers made. The answer given? Models were to be the clothes hangers;

and these fashions supposedly looked “better” on thinner models who resembled those hangers. Yikes. And so, that’s why the sample sizes tend to be size 0 or size 2 at the largest. Just try to find those same fashions, created in larger sizes, even those referred to as “plus sizes.” Not exactly happening, is it?

I started to make a connection between this famous line and a better stance on our own body acceptance. Human beings have far too much value to simply be regarded as hangers. It’s demoralizing to be so casual about anyone’s body. We’re supposed to be the Temple of God, not a display rack.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. 1 Corinthians 6:19

We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). Anything which argues that reality dishonors our humanity and dishonors God. There are some people who naturally possess that thin frame.

“The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of the American females.”
The Renfrew Center Foundation for Eating Disorders, “Eating Disorders: A Summary of Issues, Statistics, and Resources,” published September 2002, http://www.renfrew.org

But the emphasis on this particular body shape, unfortunately, has contributed to a proliferation of harmful body image perceptions and disordered eating. This line of thinking encourages us, indeed, to conform, no matter how destructive that may be to our health and wellbeing. I struggled for a long time to be just like this model or that model. I struggled with eating disorders for years because of it. And, for what? So I could be viewed as a clothes hanger? How insane is that?

It’s not about blaming the fashion industry, the models, the designers or the magazines. It’s about seeing how valuable we are in God’s eyes, while rejecting any other lying argument.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

Do we believe God or do we conform to a harmful lie? We can choose.

You can; I can. Concerning the argument that we should be clothes hanger thin, each one of us can speak to that, proclaiming, “No wire hangers ever!”