Friday, April 17, 2015

The "Ideal Body"

DISCLAIMER: None of the images featured in this post belong to me. I found them all via Google image.

Here's what I don't get:

The perfect "real" body. So what, the Victoria's Secret models have fake bodies?

Okay, I get the idea. There's no way the VS models naturally have such small, toned bodies; the DOVE campaign women are showing off [what I assume are] their natural bodies. Not a lot of women look like the VS models, so the idea is to present more "natural" looking bodies as the ideal body. But what I'd like to know is, Why do we need an "ideal body"?

One of the women featured above has been a recent victim of Fat-Shaming, and the other has been criticized for being too skinny. There is plenty that could be said for this, but there are two things I'd like to say. One, Kelly Clarkson just had a baby, and Giuliana Rancic is as skinny as she is partly because of her cancer medication. Two, WHOSE BUSINESS IS IT???

Every time I get on Pinterest, I'm bombarded with images of fit girls in sports bras and shorts. Here's something that I frequently come across:

It's totally great if you look like this. Really. But what about those who are still just skinny? Not to mention, this is still kind of insinuating that curvy and robust is at the bottom of the pyramid. If we really want to empower women, we need to accept them all; not just "the new skinny."

This really makes me scratch my head:

If the goal isn't to look fit, why post a picture of a perfect set of abs and that much-desired thigh gap? It's not like feeling fit and looking fit are one in the same; I feel fit, but I definitely don't look like that!

I get it. Fitspiration. There's nothing wrong with striving to be strong and fit. However, it's when things like this show up that my hope for humanity decreases about three feet:

Have you never had pizza? Double Stuf Oreos? Chinese food? Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory???

I believe that our society is making a true effort to help women love themselves and feel beautiful. However, I also believe that in our attempt to make ourselves feel beautiful, we fall back on old, childish habits like tearing someone down to elevate ourselves. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be fit and strong ("the best you you can be"), but there's also nothing wrong with loving your "natural" body. I feel like we find ourselves in one camp or the other, and, like rival high schools, we go after each other like wolves defending their territories.

Confession: I play the comparison game. I look at other girls and think, "Oh, I'm doing much better than they are" or "My legs are so much more attractive than theirs" or "My body looks similar to theirs, and they don't look too bad, so I must be doing okay." I'm not positive, but I'm willing to bet that I'm not the only person who does this. It isn't fun.

I don't want to play the comparison game anymore, and I don't want anyone else to play it, either. I want us all to look at each other and acknowledge that we are all created differently, and we're all beautiful in our differences. On the bright side, I do believe that we are making progress in this area and are becoming more encouraging. Unfortunately, the encouraging thing can get a little... off course?

Jessica Kane, who a lot of people would consider to be plus-size, went to the beach without a coverup. People told her she was brave. Her [shortened] response was "THIS WAS NOT BRAVE. Things that DO take bravery? A family battling tragic illness, a mother trying to beat addiction, a person trying to break free of domestic violence, reaching out for help when you have already planned your suicide and feel like you can't breath one more day. THAT is brave. Not wearing a swimsuit at the beach." Check out the original post here.

Why should we be considered brave for not being ashamed of our bodies? We are all human, whether we're size 0 or 32 or 74 or 102. Real women are not skinny, curvy, strong, or whatever. The following meme sums it up perfectly.

Another celebrity who has been in the media for weight issues is Demi Lovato. In case you missed it, she posted a picture of her lack of a thigh gap with the caption: “You don’t have to have a thigh gap to be beautiful. It is possible to love your body the way it is.”

During an interview for E! News, Lovato explained, "For some reason this whole thigh gap thing has kind of swept over what people think is beautiful. And if you have that naturally, then that’s totally fine, you’re still beautiful. But my body doesn’t naturally have that. I wanted to show my fans out there who don’t naturally have [the thigh gap] that it’s okay. You don’t have to have what you see in the magazines if that’s not what your body naturally has." I couldn't agree more!

Health is what's key. If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, suffer from high blood pressure or any other weight-related disease, then you have something to worry about and need to start paying attention to your body. But needing to lose weight because of health-related issues is not related to beauty or attractiveness; it's not that you need to "fix" your body because there's something "wrong" with it, it's that your body isn't healthy and needs a little TLC. However, health comes in many different shapes and sizes; there are larger-than-average people out there who don't suffer from weight-related issues. So unless your doctor recommends weight loss or you're really bothered by your weight, don't sweat it (the same goes for people who are smaller-than-average).

"Real" women are not curvy. "Real" women are not skinny. "Real" women are not strong or fit. Real women are curvy, skinny, strong, fit, and everything else. You want to know who isn't real?

Sorry; I couldn't resist.

You are beautiful if you eat a burger or a salad or an entire package of Cadbury Creme Eggs. Starving yourself isn't beautiful, and neither is gorging yourself. Healthy is what's beautiful, and, as discussed earlier, healthy comes in all shapes and sizes. Don't starve yourself and don't gorge yourself (and don't beat yourself up for eating all of those Cadbury Creme Eggs). Go for more walks, drink more water, eat more fruits and veggies, and do more of the things you love.

Be happy and be healthy, because that is what's beautiful.


P.S. If nothing tastes as good as skinny feels to you, then good for you! As for me, I'll follow up my salads and protein shakes with my DQ Blizzard. (It's all about balance ;) )


  1. Great post! It is all about balance and being happy!

  2. Being fit is the new way of saying we need to develop a healthier diet and exercise routine. Overweight is not okay! Being stick skinny is also unhealthy! Society is slowly figuring that out and wording it so we can understand that.

  3. I totally agree...I'm not the perfect body but I'm happy! Balance is everything. My daughter sometimes questions herself so I want to make sure I do right by her.