Fact: After a certain point in life, you'll find yourself on every mailing list known to man, and receive every catalog that's ever been printed. The other week, both the Victoria's Secret and the Athleta catalogs landed in my mailbox.
Growing up, I used to go through VS catalogs page by page, wondering if I'd ever get boobs, and if I'd ever be as pretty as the women in the magazine. Then puberty hit, and I did get boobs (spoiler alert: they're not all they're cracked up to be) but my body most definitely did not look like the ones pictured. I wasn't flawlessly tan. I had (have!) cellulite. My hair wasn't effortlessly wavy. And so, I did what a lot of teenage girls did: I cut out pictures and plastered them to the wall in my bedroom, to serve as motivation to "get in shape." (This is what we did before Pinterest.)
Flipping through the Athleta catalog, it was impossible not to notice the stark contrast between the models and marketing in the VS catalog. Sports bras? In the VS catalog, the model is lifting two pound weights in a windy gym. In Athleta? Handstand push-ups, NBD.
And swimsuits? The Victoria's Secret models are giving their best duck faces on the beach, while the Athleta models are (gasp!) in water!
While I in no way think society's idea of beauty is anywhere near reality, it appears we are making forward progress. For me personally, I can tell you that I'd much rather aspire to do handstand push-ups than look like Victoria's Secret model...