Why Lauren Conrad is more powerful than anyone probably ever thought
I don’t know much about Lauren Conrad. Just that she was on MTV’s The Hills (or Laguna Beach? Or The OC? Or all three?) and that she now has some lifestyle blog (because who doesn’t?) that covers “primping, dining, decorating, crafting, reading and fashion.”
Ms. Conrad is on my radar these days, however, because she recently banned the words “slim,” “thin,” and “skinny” from her site — except for when referring to skinny jeans (obvs).
“My editorial team and I had a long talk about it, and we want to make sure that the focus is on being fit as opposed to a number on a scale,” she wrote on her website.
IMHO, the coolest thing about that sentence is NOT that the focus of Conrad’s website is about to shift away from a fixation on thinness. Yay for that and all, but what I’m really jazzed about is that somewhere in Los Angeles (which is where Conrad is based), a group of folks who create content for young women actually sat around and discussed how their decisions might impact their readers’ self-esteem and outlook — and let that guide their actions.
Really!? Well then, don’t mind me as I just shout some cheesy slogan like “We’ve Come a Long Way, baby!” from the rooftops. Because when I got started in this business (and by this business, I mean working in media that is produced for and therefore influences the thinking of girls and young women) there weren’t a lot of editorial meetings that probed how the articles we produced might affect the ways girls judged themselves, measured their self-worth, and made decisions about how to spend their time, energy, and money. Except at Sassy — the ramifications of the content were paramount at Sassy (RIP).
However, in the past few years, there’s been all kinds of progress. For instance:
- Popular lingerie company Aerie stopped Photoshopping its models.
- Italy, Israel, Spain, and France all cracked down on their fashion industries featuring ultra-skinny models.
- Vogue magazine vowed to stop featuring underweight models (full disclosure: I’m quoted as an expert in the Associated Press article on this topic that was picked up globally).
- A group of teens from Maine protested Seventeen’s airbrushed images by gathering more than 80,000 signatures — and eventually had a sit-down with the magazine’s Editor in Chief that resulted in Seventeen creating a Body Peace Treaty.
Impressive and exciting advancements, no?
LaurenConrad.com still faces challenges, especially since there’s been a lot of ballyhoo recently about fitspo being the new thinspo. It does, after all, still encourage women to prioritize their appearance and incite intense scrutiny of others’ bodies (and motivations), as well as our own.
Even so, I’m thrilled about Conrad’s declaration…and I’ll be rooting for her if she ever decides to stop with her whole Bikini Bootcamp thing and become Editor in Chief of some high-powered publication.
Audrey D. Brashich is the author of All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty. She writes regularly about trending pop culture issues for The Washington Post, Yahoo Parenting, and other national news outlets.