Fed UP With Skinny

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I am fed up (interesting term) with Skinny being held up as the ultimate goal of women.  Recently I read an article where Tyra Banks, the American model and television personality, claims when she started modeling as a teen, she was a size 4 and couldn’t get a job nowadays as a teen at that size.

The article shows a photo of her in a Victoria’s Secret fashion show and I can’t imagine anyone finding fault with her absolutely perfect figure.  Her photo is compared to Iman Chanel, a current Victoria’s Secret model, who’s stick legs, lack of hips, and toneless arms made her look like a poster child for starving children in Third World countries.  Banks goes on to say when her 5’10 body “started to get curvy” in her 20s, fashion designers rejected her for their shows.

If only my body would “get curvy” like hers, I think I could take that kind of rejection.  I say that not as a slam on Tyra but to criticize her critics.  I’ve seen models go from the pages of Vic’s Secret to L.L. Bean (which is as polar opposite as you can get) with no perceived change in body weight, so I’m guessing age or wanting fresh meat pushed them from lingerie to casual central.  But the transition from size 4 and 6 being the norm for models (according to Banks) in the late 1990’s/early 2000s to size 0 being the status quo signals that Something Is Very Wrong.  Tyra praises Vogue for banning models who appear to have an eating disorder, while Israeli lawmakers have already banned skinny models with a body mass index under 18.5, but I believe a big portion of the real problem lies with the Media and fashion designers.

The Media is infamous for focusing on women’s weight.  They praise actresses who lose weight, make a big deal about how well some look so soon after giving birth, or, as in the current hub-bub with Aishwarya Rai, the Bollywood superstar who’s been called “the most beautiful woman on Earth,” for not losing post-pregnancy weight fast enough.  Rai is contrasted to Angelina Jolie and Victoria Beckham for remaining chubby months after giving birth.  My first reaction to learning that was, what torture did Jolie and Beckham put themselves through with workouts, diets, and Spanx to look impossibly svelt?  I mean, hello, a woman’s body was designed to make babies.  Our bodies were designed to hold onto fat so we have enough calories to breastfeed.  Why is it so darn important in the Media’s eyes for actresses to look stick thin a week after giving birth?  What is their motivation?  Money, of course.  More readers mean more sales means more money.  Being skinny too soon after giving birth isn’t normal, so the story sells, as does vilifying Rai for being normal.

Fashion designers are the other half of the problem.  Prior to Coco Chanel’s revolutionary designs in the 1920s which truly freed woman from corsets and introduced the boyish look which was so counter to most of Western Civilization women’s fashions through the centuries, a woman’s curvy figure was shown off, albeit usually uncomfortably.  Corsets and bustles and hoops were all designed to make the waist appear smaller but still have womanly curves.  A woman’s curves were celebrated; women were differentiated from men.  Sure, most women’s clothing are still designed with a woman’s figure in mind (usually accentuating the décolletage), but it’s mostly bridal gowns and formal attire which truly highlight a woman’s curves.  God forbid that you should look too curvy on a daily basis.  If you want to see real curves, sometimes you have to hit a Renaissance Faire, where bigger women are in abundance and are unashamed to show off their stuff with corsets and bodices and hoops.

So I say show off your stuff.  Men like a woman with meat on their bones anyway.  Just as curves in a road make drivers slow down, imagine what your curves do to men when they see them.  They aren’t as concerned with Skinny as we think.

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