Real People

This past weekend I attended True Beauty Weekend at Thanksgiving Point with my daughter Hailey. We listed it as one of 10 Mother’s Day gift ideas in our May/June issue of Utah Valley Magazine, so naturally I wanted to check it out and come away with some true beauty tips. And tears. And chuckles.Hailey is still laughing at an unlocked bathroom story Lehi’s Kris Belcher told. Hailey had me snap a picture of them together so she could keep giggling at this comedian’s humor about being blind.Another memorable speaker was Dr. Nicole Hawkins, who is the director of clinical services at the Center for Change. She shared startling stats about the millions of images girls see in the media that portray unrealistic and unhealthy body images. As she was talking, I noticed scattered copies of Utah Valley Magazine and Utah Valley Bride that people had picked up from our complimentary rack outside the door. Even though I had painstakingly edited every page before it went to print in previous months, I wanted to flip through our magazines again with my new perspective on media’s inaccurate portrayal of body image. You see, I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to showcase real people with real shapes, heights and cheek bones. As I refreshed my memory of our recent issues, I can honestly say we are different from other magazines. We don’t swap heads for leaner bodies. We don’t alter waist measurements that leave women running for their corsets and their Gold’s Gym passes. None of our 2011 cover brides for Utah Valley Bride Magazine is 5’11” and weighs 110 pounds (which means none of them has a future in modeling). The wives in our Happy Couples story don’t workout eight hours a day like Jennifer Aniston did as a “Friends” star. And our January issue showcased a burn victim on the cover and a mom who went back to school. Super? Yes. Supermodels? No. Sure, we want men and women in our photos to look attractive. Nobody wants an unflattering picture of themselves sent out to 80,000 readers in Utah Valley. But we don’t use Photoshop to remove hips or add inches. What you see in our magazines is what you’ll see when you run into these people at the University Mall. Because true beauty is just that. TRUE beauty. And there are plenty of true beauties in Utah County that we’re discovering page by page and interview by interview. I’m not saying our magazines are perfect — believe me, I’m aware of our “areas of opportunity.”  But that is precisely the point. Obsession with perfection is damaging. But we can and do strive to celebrate the real and the realistic. And the truly beautiful.