How many people can truly say they are comfortable in their own skin?

Sadly, it may not be that many.

It takes great confidence, strength, self-esteem, broad-mindedness and understanding to appreciate one's sense of worth and to feel okay - let alone good - about one's body. As humans, we seem primed to focus on our imperfections, inadequacies and failings, as we learn from a very early age to strive for success.

The sort of self-kindness, generosity and reflection that allows people to accept themselves "warts and all" often only comes at a much older age - or sometimes through adversity - when the really meaningful things in life have become apparent.


In this day and age it seems even harder to be true and kind to oneself, particularly for the young or vulnerable.

The pressure to conform to the manufactured beauty "norm" is relentless, making it enormously difficult to accommodate one's own often-ambivalent feelings of self. Males and females are inundated - from a very young age - with messages that suggest an ideal body shape/height/weight/colour/texture and bombarded with products that will "help" achieve those manufactured "goals".

The selfie-obsessed and "like"-driven social media age locks many into an endless cycle of image and instant gratification which can have very little do with real self-worth. And the ready access of most youth to the modern porn industry sets unhealthy, unrealistic and unhelpful ideals of bodies, relationships and sex - the latter two, of course, determined on screen and on the page by the former.

How is it possible to measure up? In fact, and what many young people don't realise, it's not.

Even those supposedly deemed "beautiful", whose faces and bodies adorn the covers of glossy magazines, stare out from street billboards, fill our screens and digital devices ... they too are being "retouched", manufactured with the help of computers into something supposedly "perfect": sleek, slim, silky, spotless, hairless, air-brushed and wrinkle-free.

That's the real beauty myth a young New Zealand woman is trying to put an end to.

Twenty-six-year-old model, cancer survivor, amputee and social media influencer Jess Quinn is determined to fight the unrealistic body image ideals portrayed in advertising and the media, that she says can be detrimental to the wellbeing of young people.

She has started a petition and hopes to ask Parliament to pass legislation requiring brands, advertisements, and the media to disclose if the physical appearance of a model has been altered or retouched in photographs.

Her actions came after a photograph of herself was retouched by an Australian magazine, shocking her. She says a similar law was passed in France in 2017 and says she has been encouraged in her endeavour by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

It's a big ask, of course, but there are already those in the media, advertising, fashion and beauty industries who are pushing for and actively promoting healthier messages and images about bodies, beauty, respect and acceptance.

Quinn's message about having control over one's own body and image has every chance of being heard given the influence of the #MeToo movement. Any change that can make it easier for people to love the skin they're in - and help them be respected for who they are - can only be a good thing.