Editor’s Roundtable: Body Image + Beauty Standards


Image used as background found here.

Welcome to the very first Editor’s Roundtable! Today CF editor Emily sits down with Megan Ryland and Laura Fukumoto, two students and activists at the University of British Columbia, located in Vancouver. A lot of the time, women, especially young women, are not treated as experts or having significant and profound opinions on our society–that’s not the case here, though. Be prepared for a free-flowing conversation we discuss everything from beauty standards to body image, media literacy to fat fashion!

This recording is very much intended to a conversation, not a structured question and answer interview. Below is a timeline of what we discuss so you can go back to your favourite parts. The running time of the Editor’s Roundtable is 53 minutes.

Editor’s Roundtable: Body Image + Beauty Standards

00:00-01:37 Introductions

01:37-03:40 Laura’s Terry* talk, thoughts on authenticity.

03:40-06:10 Culture of perfection, vs. respect of the body, and how that relates to student life, self care. Human potential and how that is valued in the physical body.

06:10-07:34 Emily talks about expectations of students in high school vs. university with a personal anecdote.

07:34-09:00 Megan shares some compelling stats and thoughts on women, eating disorders, and the university/college culture in the absence of your usual support networks.

09:00-11:11 Laura talks about her experience as an residence advisor working with first year students, the culture of experimentation that the arrival at university tends to have.

11:11-12:30 Keeping up appearances of health, style, fitness on campus. How does that vary by faculty? City life vs. country life.

12:30-14:32 Class, West Coast attitudes, Yyga lifestyle & Vancouver living. How do these things effect our style sensibilities, and what we value as beautiful, successful, etc?

14:32-16:30 Emily asks: What will change the fashion industry in terms of dismantling the persistent status quo–will/should it come from designers, bloggers, or consumers of magazines and fashion demanding change?

16:30-23:22 Laura’s radical understanding of fashion. Megan talks advertising, self-esteem (or lack thereof), and how the fashion industry uses that to drive sales. Bloggers, accessibility, visibility, why that matters, and how it is seriously changing things.


Image used as a background found here

23:22-28:00 Fatshion & shopping. “Vanity” sizing. Old Navy. The problem with stores not selling clothes for folks sizes 20+. Thoughts on Barbie!

28:00-34:45 Air-brushing, media literacy, and the importance of discussing these things with each other and younger folks. Megan shares some examples about the lack of media literacy she’s discovered with her activism. Eating disorders, and how that might connect to media literacy. The influence of movies, TV, and the entertainment industry in general on ideas of body image, beauty, etc.

34:45-36:30 Two very interesting anecdotes by Megan and Laura. How does our clothing change how we feel out in public, and how does that collide with gender roles, dressing up, and sexism?

36:30-38:50 Make-up, in/security, unlearning beauty expectations. How much money goes into our appearances?

38:50-40:00 Wardrobe expectations for women vs. men.

40:00-42:00 Books, looks, and other priorities.

42:00-45:40 Why do we buy clothes? Thoughts on judgement, sexual attraction aspect of the fashion industry. The “rewards” of women making the effort to look good.

45:50-50:00 Megan shares an anecdote about something she learned at This American Life. Plastic surgery, South Korea, overt standards of beauty connected to success. Prettiness as whiteness. Lookism. Megan suggests a surprising alternative to North American beauty standards and success.

50:00-53:00/end Whiteness, beauty, colonialism, class. The accessibility of the standard of beauty and how it comes back to money.


Ryland, Fukumoto, and Yakashiro want you to know about the following blogs, websites, and resources.

Beauty Redefined: Taking Back Beauty for Females Everywhere

Racialicious.com: On South Korean “Superficiality”: We are Deeper than You Want To Know

Feministing: Young Feminists Blogging, Organizing, Kicking Ass

The Mary-Sue: A Guide to Girl Geek Culture

Adios Barbie: The One Stop Body Image Shop for Identity Issues, including Race, Size, Media, and More!

xojane.com —  “is where women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded”.

Feminist Frequency: Conversations with Pop Culture

Gender Focus: A Canadian Feminist Blog –“Gender Focus looks at politics, pop culture, and current events from an anti-racist feminist perspective”.

Shakesville: Expect More — “a progressive feminist blog about politics, culture, social justice, cute things, and all that is in between”.


Laura Fukumoto is a young twenty-something theatre production and design student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, studying costume design. She occasionally facilitates workshops, blogs about feelings, and once did a TED talk about fat shaming in the media.When not dancing in frilly dresses discussing feminist theory, Laura enjoys writing bad poetry and making noises that might pass as music. You can find her on tumblr here, and check out her portfolio here.

Megan Ryland is currently finishing her last year at UBC, where she studies Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice (GRSJ) and Political Science. After graduation, she’s looking forward to following her passion for writing, politics, feminism, youth education, and advocacy. She has been interested in beauty, body image and politics since high school and published the book Beauty and the Beast: Ending the Love/Hate Relationship Between Girls and their Bodies in 2008. You can find her blog here for more about gender, self image, feminism, and media critique. 

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