A new take on the body debate

If before I wasn’t thin enough, I’m now condemned for not being ‘normal’, and ‘normal’ today is a bodacious figure, with high sex appeal, oozing femininity. Apparently.

Every news article, blog and body issue special of our favourite magazine blames an unhealthy distortion and mold of ‘beauty’ depicted in the very newspapers and glossy fashion mags’ we consume daily.  Not to mention the movies, television shows and music clip videos that ‘feature’ underweight women or an unrealistic portrayal of what is beautiful and normal.  We see these stories, these articles that attack models for being skinny and victimise the women who fall pray to the pressure.  Unfortunately most of these stories are featured opposite an advertisement or editorial containing exactly what they oppose and are rendered irrelevant anyway.

Feministic media, so opposed to an ‘ideal’ beauty, has created a whole new one. Most ironically, it contradicts everything these body-image-conscience women hated to begin with.

As a result of the backlash, we have created a war on thin, ‘Skinny vs. Curvy’ and it’s not reserved to those featured on runways or covers.  It’s anyone.  A thin girl on the street, the dieter in the office, a size 6 and size 12 in a change room.  Plus size modelling is the answer according to these corporals of ‘realistic’ beauty.  But through the language and images used, they are really just replacing one ideal with another.

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And what’s to happen to the girls who are naturally thin, or lead a healthy lifestyle? Well they are now segregated for being unhealthy and outside the new sexy, curvaceous ‘norm’. Robyn Lawley, the Miranda Kerr equivalent in the plus-size market, was featured on the front cover of The Australian Magazine quoting,

“I’m normal size, I wish we could all be known as models, rather than plus size.  It’s the skinny models who should be called minus size”.

While the first part of that remark makes sense, models shouldn’t be segregated according to their division, she complete

Let it be known, I am in no way underestimating the seriousness of health issues influenced by the media’s portrayal of ‘beauty’ and ideal weight.  I am rather highlighting the notion that amongst the strife and fight against ‘anorexic’ models, a new bread of overtly sexy, curvaceous hourglass shapes now haunts the magazine pages as the new body-to-be and aura to personify.ly undermines her comment by stating skinny models should be labelled as “minus-size”.  There it goes.  ‘Us vs. them’, ‘skinny vs. normal’.  This isn’t a social revolution, this is a war.

As misogynistic as it is, it’s all about ‘tits and ass’. Sex appeal, bodacious curves, flirty smirks, little to no clothes and throw in a raised brow for good measure.  If your overweight, apparently you’re supposed to be super sexual about it.   Too bad if you don’t have a lovely booty, a little junk in the trunk, or some bosom on top and a cinched waist in between all that, because that’s what ‘plus-size’ models are representing.  Apparently this is what’s normal? Further embedding sexual ideals, these images of supposedly ‘bigger’ women are accompanied with words like ‘over-heated’, ‘hot’,  ‘voluptuous’, and ‘sexy’.

kate-upton GQWell-known plus-size model, Kate Upton, was featured in GQ Magazine recently promoting such.  The slide show of photos online accompanies statements like “blonde bombshell” and “voluptuous curves” with suggestive words like “burst” and notes her “several memorable provocative videos”.  Upton’s’ pictures borderline soft porn, which I suppose could be excused for the target audience of a men’s magazine. Or should it?

Perhaps such a figure, which doesn’t fit designers’ samples of size 6, is so alien that the only way to show it off is to strip it naked or skimp it out?  Our ‘skinny’ ideals are being replaced by curves and increased sexuality.  This is not displaying an acceptance of diversity, but a clear exchange of one version of ‘perfect’ with another. And other than Kate’s ‘chest puppies’, does she even look close to ‘plus’ to you?

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Despite her smaller frame, Kate Upton doesn’t escape the skinny vs. curvy scrutiny. Pro-thin blog, Skinny Gossip, describe her as a “squishy brick” followed by, “Is this what American women are “striving” for now? The lazy, lardy look? Have we really gotten so fat in this country that Kate is the best we can aim for? Sorry, but: eww!”

A plus-size model can vary anywhere up to an Australian size 16 or 18; however, the most successful models tend to maintain a size 10 average.  Crystal Renn, a ‘plus-size’ model from the U.S, appeared on the Today morning show in Ame

rica after she was photo-shopped to look thinner, much to her anger.  Leslie Goldman, co-host of the program, wrote about their interview afterwards, addressing the fact that Crystal Renn is no way ‘plus-size’.

“The main physical characteristic that jumps out and whomps you upside the head the first time you lay eyes on Crystal Renn in person: She is not big. Not in any way, shape or form.  If you and your BFF, on your cattiest of catty days, were drunk, PMS-ing and had just swallowed a bottle of mean girl pills, and Renn walked by, you still wouldn’t think to comment on her weight.  If you ever saw her shopping in the plus-size department of a clothing store, you’d think she was picking up a gift for a friend.”

One of the most interesting points in Goldman’s post, was how at a size 10 herself – a size she had previously thought was thin – she felt more insecure after comparing herself to Renn, knowing that at her size she would also be considered ‘plus’. It’s intriguing that comparison, regardless of shape, can still result in insecurity.

 

The main argument against ‘anorexic’ models is that they don’t represent the majority of women.  Plus Model Magazine reported,

“Twenty years ago the average fashion model weighed 8% less than the average woman. Today she weighs 23% less.”

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This was construed to mean models are getting thinner, when in reality people are getting bigger! The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that over half the adult population is overweight or obese, which has increased from 44 per cent in 1995.   Personal trainer, Michelle Bridges, from The Biggest Loser wrote in an article regarding the ‘Danish fat tax’, that the promotion of a healthy population is “not about plus-size models, body image or eating disorders.  It’s about quality and quantity of life.”  She continues, “The more we get bogged down in the social acceptance of obesity the more difficult it is to make change – profound change – to our health and quality of life”.  Amongst the praise for body shape variety within our media, we should not let vital notions of health and well being go astray.

We are told that this is the plus-size revolution, what average-weight women have been longing for, and yet seats to plus-size fashion shows remain empty.  Last year’s Sydney Fashion Festival sold only 64 tickets out of 500 to its Big is Beautiful show, despite other shows during the event selling out. It is an increase however on 2009, when only 13 tickets sold to the same Big is Beautiful event.  Editor of Harpers Bazaar, Edwina McCann, understood the low sales and responded, “I d

on’t think the consumer is as obsessed with [plus-size] as the media is. I think the consumer is quite happy to accept the fact that a model, like an Olympic swimmer, is usually an exceptional beauty and doesn’t look like the rest of us.”

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So, does it all just come down to selling a magazine, clothing and every other purchasable item involved? Surely not.

There has not been a change in body image, but rather a change in what is perceived as the ‘ideal’, which still alienates and excludes the majority of women everywhere.  Instead of viewing beauty as all inclusive, we are still looking to find the ‘perfect’ version of us who we can look to and admire, and when we still cannot achieve their level of ‘perfection’, we attack and condemn it for being unreachable. Plus size models are just bigger girls photo-shopped of dimples, vains, uneven skin-tone and wrinkles. What’s different? Nothing.

 

 

 

 

 

Myself vs. Me

Anyone who has a head as active as mine, a mind which never stops, that over thinks, that picks and pulls at tiny details that no one else would really notice or care about will understand this.

Think Body Positive, think Beautiful, and remember that putting an end to body shame can only begin once we stop shaming ourselves.

Positive Vibes

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Featured Story// Censorship and the female body

Petra Collins is an artist. Most recently she has been in the news for designing a ‘Period Power‘ t-shirt for American Apparel, featuring an illustration of a vagina menstruating.  Petra the creative, also likes to post images on herself (who doesn’t?) on Instagram, which last week was deleted thanks to a particular ‘selfie’ deemed too inappropriate for the Instagram community.  Subsequently, she voiced her opinion on the matter to Oyster, discussing the all too familiar censorship and shaming of the female body. Below are some of the best bits taken from the article, of what unfortunately, just like Petra, we are all used to.

The Instagram post which got Petra's account removed

The Instagram post which got Petra’s account removed

I’m used to being told by society that I must regulate my body to fit the norm. I’m used to the fact that images of unaltered women are seen as unacceptable.

Recently I had my Instagram account deleted. I did nothing that violated the terms of use. No nudity, violence, pornography, unlawful, hateful, or infringing imagery. What I did have was an image of MY body that didn’t meet society’s standard of “femininity”. The image I posted was from the waist down wearing a bathing suit bottom in front of a sparkly backdrop. Unlike the 5,883,628 (this is how many images are tagged #bikini) bathing suit images on Instagram (see here and here) mine depicted my own unaltered state – an unshaven bikini line. Up until this moment I had obviously seen and felt the pressure to regulate my body but never thought I would literally experience it. 

 I’m used to seeing women being degraded, slut shamed, harassed for what they look like. Even the most powerful women in the world are measured by their appearance and constantly ridiculed for it.

I’m used to seeing blockbuster movies get a rating of NC-17 because a woman is shown receiving pleasure -while movies that feature men receiving pleasure get ratings as low as PG.

I’m used to seeing cover after cover featuring stories about a popular celebrity being fat-shamed during pregnancy.

I’m used to seeing reviews of an award show performance that critiques a female singer for being “slutty” but then fails to even mention the older male behind her.

These profiles [Instagram] mimic our physical selves and a lot of the time are even more important. They are ways to connect with an audience, to start discussion, and to create change. Through this removal I really felt how strong of a distrust and hate we have towards female bodies. The deletion of my account felt like a physical act, like the public coming at me with a razor, sticking their finger down my throat, forcing me to cover up, forcing me to succumb to societies image of beauty. That these very real pressures we face everyday can turn into literal censorship. 

If an online society of people can censor your body what stops them from doing so in real life. This is already happening, you experience this everyday. When someone catcalls at you, yells “SLUT”, comments on all your Facebook photos calling you “disgusting”, tries to physically violate you, spreads private nude images of you to a mass amount of people via text, calls you ugly, tells you to change your body, tells you are not perfect, this cannot continue to be our reality. To all the young girls and women, do not let this discourage you, do not let anyone tell you what you should look like, tell you how to be, tell you that you do not own your body.

Full Article

Tales of a… Plus Size model & Hollywood Actress

Robyn Lawler: chairI love Robyn Lawley, not only because she’s Australian, but because she has the intellect to recognise that the fashion industry needs a little big slap in the face.  As a famous, highly regarded plus size model, it’s nice knowing that a girl who’s career is supported not only by her obvious beauty, but the current backlash on ‘skinny’ mentality of media nowadays, is happy to voice just how contradictory that message is.

Lawley believes that celebrating the ‘plus-size shape’ is not only damaging to thin women, but those who are larger as well. Pushing women of all sizes into unrealistic body type categories further perpetuates the warped standard of beauty that exists within the fashion world.  She hates being called a plus size icon, believing that it “misses the point and is blatantly offensive to thin women”.

The following paragraph, which she stated in an interview for The Guardian, is beyond amazing and shows deeply her understanding of the female psyche and how unnecessarily tolling it is on womankind to be so obsessed with shape.

“Curves don’t epitomise a woman. Saying, ‘Skinny is ugly’ should be no more acceptable than saying fat is. I find all this stuff a very controlling and effective way of making women obsess over their weight, instead of exploiting their more important attributes, such as intellect, strength and power. We could be getting angry about unequal pay and unequal opportunities, but we’re too busy being told we’re not thin enough or curvy enough. We’re holding ourselves back.”

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Another amazing effort by none other than Miss Oscar winner, Jennifer Lawrence is her refusal to fall victim to the claims of weight control by almost everyone around her, who really should just shut the hell up.  “If anybody even tries to whisper the
word ‘diet,'” she said in the November issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK., “I’m like, ‘You can go f–k yourself.” Umm, Go Girl!!

Not only that, it was only recently that I became aware that a stuck up idiot of a person (I’m forgoing the expletives) that Manhola Dargis of The New York Times’ wrote in review of the Hunger Games,

“A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission.”

Body shaming in the form of a back-handed compliment.  It’s nice at least that celebrities aren’t submitting to the pressure.

If only more celebrities, people in the spotlight, had the opportunity and guts to fight back at the ideals, pressures and mediated cookie-cutter that women must try to fulfil.

I know I’m guilty too…

4c202d30a9ad0c0e871c4716011c5b26  To be honest, a lot of the reasoning behind this blog is stemmed from personal experiences.  As a thinner girl, I have long dealt with skinny shamming, but it is my own personal admittance of body shaming against others that I believe makes this blog truly worthwhile.

A lot of people don’t realise they’re guilty of body shaming others.  They don’t understand that thoughts about others which are vocalised, and may seem harmful, are fund insulting by the subject.

Personally, I make judgement of what other people wear…

What makes this very weird, is that I don’t judge those I know, and know well.  I never think twice of someone I love, yet a complete stranger can walk pass me and I can jump straight to a conclusion regarding who they are based on their appearance.  I understand this is completely pathetic, and I’m often disgusted when I catch myself in the act.  When I do, I immediately stop, and push my thoughts to other things. To be honest, I’m not sure why I do it.  I guess I often forget that while my passions lie in fashion, others have different priorities. And that’s not a bad thing.  My conflict here however, is that I believe that style and what we wear is an externalisation of our personality, and while it may not always suit current trends etc, presenting oneself well is important.  I don’t mean that people need worry about the latest and greatest unreasonably priced item around, but that they’re comfortable and reasonably-dressed. Even if that’s a t-shirt and jeans, if it fits the situation, then go for your life.

I know this is a grey area, people have such different beliefs regarding what one should wear, and I know it is of no one else’s business what others think of the clothing they chose, but I believe that taking care of yourself and being conscious about what you wear shows self-respect.

To end body shaming, the first step to to question whether or not you’re guilty of doing so.  Whether you judge what others wear, make back-handed compliments regarding their looks, find natural flaws in another’s appearance when intimidated to make yourself feel better or make someone feel bad for being thin or overweight, you need to stop and be honest with yourself about the reasons you do it.  Think about when you do it most, is it at a party when you’re feeling inadequate, in the office, amongst friends? Once you identify the situations, its time to start working on yourself, work out why you feel the need to judge, and then start to push those thoughts out of your mind.  A lot of people think that a solution to body shaming is to (in your head) find something you like about that person, but that’s just as bad.  The concentration is still on judging another’s character and looks. It doesn’t matter if you’re finding flaws or perfections, it’s just as demeaning.  How would you feel if someone felt compelled to force out bad thoughts regarding your looks by trying to find something positive.

Compliments should come naturally, and you should only voice them if you believe that someone would be genuinely happy to hear them.  Remember that body shaming is engrained in us by the media we consume, try swapping those trashy gossip mags for better reading material.

I encourage your feedback and thoughts regarding this issue, all comments, unless deemed off topic or insensitive, will remain.