Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Happened to Curves?

Photo credit to whoever made it. Sorry I couldn't find your name
I was reading an email from an amazing friend of mine about how both her and her husband started running. In the email she detailed her first run attempt and then how she came to the conclusion of  "What am I running from? The fat girl that ate me! *Sobs*" After a fit of laughter at her observation (obviously overplayed as she is a beautiful and amazing wife, mother, and individual)  I relayed the story to my husband and parents, and moved on.

But then I was browsing greeting cards the store and I came across a general one, fit to send just because. It read: "If you are what you eat then I need to eat a skinny person." Hilarious again, I relayed it to my sister and moved on.

Then I saw this photo above making it's way around the Facebook/Twitterverse. And it got me thinking that between our perceptions of ourselves and what is being conveyed to us in the media and magazines, when did being an emaciated skinny woman become the norm from being a curvy woman?

Look at the TV show Mad Men. Joan (played by Christina Hendricks) is a wonderfully curvy woman. And she is beautiful. Gorgeous. Flawless. An amazing actress. Yet all the magazines talk about is her body and her size 14 self. Her bust, her waist,  her hips. She gets more attention for having curves and looking like a real woman. Not her amazing portrayal of Joan, the eat your heart out I'm taking no crap from anyone secretary in a man's advertising agency (world) on Mad Men.

Then you see all these women on the top row of that photo on the covers of magazines with headlines like "the miracle diet" or "how to lose those last 10 pounds". I'm sorry, I can already see (fill in any/most/all Hollywood actress/model/pageant winner's name here) ribs, plus photos tend to add 10 pounds. How in the HELL does she need to lose 10 more pounds? If I were to hypothetically give her a hug, would I break something?

I was talking with a tenant from our building at work and he asked me the question as to what the average size/weight of women are as compared to a supermodel. I told him I didn't know what the average weight was but size is 12-14 at a 5'4" height whereas supermodels are 5'11" and weight about 110lbs. He was amazed that I knew that. To which I answered 'well what woman doesn't'? How many times do we look at the photos and go "God I wish I looked like that"! Wait a second, WHAT? Why is that what we aspire to?

This is in no way an excuse for the obesity epidemic (?) that seems to be plaguing our nation. I hate to even use the word 'epidemic' because I feel as though an epidemic is something we can't control (think smallpox, or watch the movie "Contagion" and never look at someone coughing at the gym the same way again). And I understand, not all obesity is brought on just from over eating. There are so many different factors.  Our food/lifestyle/technology is a major impact on that. Nor is this a knock on women who are naturally super skinny and there is nothing they can do about it no matter how many Big Macs they eat and they don't ever set foot in a gym (seriously though, I hate you).  Genetics play an almost impossible to overcome body type for each of us and I completely understand that.

I'm just saying why does the average woman have to look like a flat board? What's so wrong with having curves? I'm all for a healthy lifestyle and working out. Lord knows I'm at the gym or running at least  4 days a week. I'm healthy and curvy. I've always been a tall girl and I still get asked if I model or play basketball. People laugh when I say that I'd need to lose at least a small child in weight before I'd ever get a (hypothetical)  modeling career. The sad part is I'm not joking, it's the truth. But I hate that I'm supposed or expected to just be this skinny mini because it's what Hollywood is doing.

Look at Jennifer Hudson. She was a size 16 when she entered the "scene". Then she went on Weight Watchers and is now a size 6. I am truly happy for her because she looks fantastic. But tell me that Hollywood isn't putting pressure on you to loose weight. Please tell me.

The part that most worries me is the message this is sending to young girls. I had a hard enough time when I was younger just being taller then most, standing at 5'10" without all this pressure to be super skinny.  How many girls do you know with an eating disorder? I know at least 1, and that to me is one too many. Why is this an okay message that society just accepts that it is normal to teach our daughters that you need to be skinny to be pretty? Why aren't we boycotting fashion icons that use emaciated models? Why aren't we outraged at Hollywood for having these skinny women be the norm? And I understand that there are magazines and designers who are now putting a stop to this, who have BMI and higher weight requirements. I applaud you for your efforts and for taking a stand against most in the industry. But more needs to be done.

That's why I love Dove. They do the campagne for real beauty to empower women to embrace who they are and what they look like. This is what real working women look like. This is the norm in America. And at first many were outraged because they were (are) still airbrushing the models and using photo shop to touch up the print ads. Well no shit people, the Dove ads are still going to be published in a magazine or aired on television. They still have to live up to the standards of their competition. But at least they are using women who look like the rest of us. Normal people who have real jobs and lives. Who don't have personal trainers/personal chefs/personal dieticians who direct every piece of food they put in their mouths and have them spending 8 hours a day in the gym.

In my opinion life's too short to be so obsessed with being perfect. I'm fine with being me, eating healthily but not feeling like I need to go throw up when I cheat or have an extra glass of wine (or 2). Running my races and working out at my pace. And you know what, my husband loves me just the way I am. Nick tells me all the time that I'm beautiful and when I say I wish I looked like (insert emaciated model/actress here), he always asks me why? What's wrong with the way I am now? He married me just the way I am and loves me just the way I am. And you know what, he's right.

I'm lucky that he'll always comment when I'm feeling down and looking at those top of the line actresses. "Who wants to look like that?" he says. But he does note how beautiful Christina Hendricks is on Mad Men. Wait, I think I'm seeing a connection here....

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