Part Of The Problem

I came across a blog post this morning entitled Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid! In it, the author posts pictures of three runway models, and briefly mentions a Health Seminar held by The Counsel of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The author goes on to talk about how too little seems to be changing within the fashion industry.

As a “plus-size” woman, I certainly understand the frustration of having Size 0 women worshiped as the ideal standard of beauty. The influence of today’s fashion industry on young, impressionable girls and boys, as well as adults, is unsettling, to say the least. What I found just as unsettling, however, were some of the comments in the above linked post.

The author said:

Despite the “Plus Size” modeling scene, the most successful runway models continue to look like they need a whole bunch of cheeseburgers!

To me, this is no better than looking at a “plus-size” woman and saying something like, “Enough with the cheeseburgers already.”

Comments like that are insulting and belittling, regardless of the size of the people at either end of them. Women who say things like that become part of the very problem they claim needs fixing.

The author of the above linked post quotes someone else as saying:

I think we have brainwashed ourselves into believing that [Size 0] is beautiful. It’s time to admit that we’ve all been drinking the Kool-Aid.”

She also closes her post with the following questions:

So what do you all think? Have we been drinking the Kool-Aid? Are we brainwashed into thinking that this type of body is beautiful? Do you really think skeletal models’ reign on the runway is coming to an end?

So now they’re in charge of who is beautiful?

To say that we have been “brainwashed” into thinking that Size 0 is beautiful is to simultaneously imply that it’s not.

I’m sorry, fellow Plus-Sizers, but determining beauty is not an objective science. I usually try to avoid using cliches, but I think it’s quite fitting to say, in this context, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Always has been, always will be.

How dare any of us claim offense and outrage over having our bodies judged and criticized, and then turn right around and hurl the exact same kind of insults in the other direction?!

I, for one, will not jump on that hypocritical bandwagon.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating voluptuous women. We can also discuss the problems within the fashion industry and the media, and how it affects society as a whole; these are legitimate causes and concerns. But we can do all of this without doing exactly what we decry as offensive and even oppressive: pointing at other women’s bodies in disgust, talking about how sick and unattractive they are and suggesting they change their eating habits for the sake of physical appearance.

This kind of behavior is no more becoming to a fat woman than to a skinny one.

All that said, I would like to commend some of the people who posted comments to the above linked post:

Vidya said:

My best friend is a natural size-0 (I’m a 26/28), and she faced difficulties when her family was searching for a prospective husband for her because of her size, and still faces ‘teasing’ from others (”anorexia!” )
She’s perfectly beautiful at her own size. Indeed, everyone is.

stefanie said:

To some, a six-foot tall, size 0 model is beautiful. What I object to is the cultural meme which specifies that particular body type as an absolute, across-the-board, universal standard of beauty to which all women “should” aspire.

lori said:

I think that we’ve drunk the Kool-Aid in believing that ONLY size 0 (or 2 or 4 or maybe, on a generous day, 6) women are beautiful. But, women can be beautiful in a size 0, or 20, or 40. I wouldn’t want to see very thin women excluded from our ideas about beauty.

Even tiffabee, the author of the post, followed up in comments with this:

I would just like to clarify that we are certainly not trying to “thin-bash” (we try to avoid thin/fat bashing at all costs here at EAC). The point of this post is to point out that the fashion industry has normalized Size 0 in a way that many women who are trying to get into modeling are now doing VERY unhealthy things to attain the oh-so coveted size 0.

Although there could be women who are “naturally” that size, many of the models are not, and so they succumb to unhealthy eating, dieting and drug habits to maintain that size. THAT is what we are against here.

Very good, tiffabee, but your post seems to have an entirely different tone: one of hostility, judgment and, yes, “thin-bashing”.

I didn’t read a single comment in the original post that seemed to express concern for these women or their possible unhealthy methods of maintaining their size. The tone seemed more along the lines of look how unattractive they are, somebody please force-feed them a whole bunch of cheeseburgers. Size 0 is ugly.

However, I believe you when you say that this was not your intent, and I sense that you and I are at least partly on the same page here. But as a voluptuous woman who found your post somewhat disturbing, I felt I had a responsibility to say so and to explain why.

As you further pointed out in follow-up comments, this is a very serious problem; some women are literally dying to achieve and maintain a size that is not appropriate or healthy for them. Women who go to such extremes may do so, at least in part, as a result of low self-esteem. I can’t help thinking that referring to them as “skeletons” and making other such degrading comments about them only serves to exacerbate that problem, possibly causing further damage to their self-esteem. When we do that, we become part of the problem.

I think it’s also important to keep in mind that there are women who are naturally very thin – even Size 0, regardless of how many cheeseburgers they eat. How do you think derogatory comments about skinny women makes them feel? No-one – regardless of size – wants to have her body ridiculed. And no-one – regardless of size – should ridicule another person’s body.

I have written this post for the purpose of encouraging all women, of all sizes to value each other as human beings, and to take greater care in presenting our objections to what we all seem to agree is a problem, at least on some level. I think we owe it to ourselves and to each other to do our best to avoid being part of that problem.

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7 responses to “Part Of The Problem

  • Rose

    Hi,

    I find this a lot too, as a naturally skinny woman. I recently commented on what I thought was a body-positive blog to object to thin women being described in sub-human terms, and got a lot of snark in response. I know that I benefit from thin privilege, but that doesn’t make it ok to imply or state that thin women are not “real” or attractive or unnatural or are in some way damaging themselves just by being thin.

  • Lottie

    Hi Rose! Thanks for commenting. I absolutely agree with you 100%. There is never any excuse for this kind of behavior.

    Glad you stopped by.

  • tiffabee

    I sincerely apologize if my post offended you and I will certainly take your comments into consideration.

    Thanks for your thoughts,

    Tiffabee

  • Lottie

    Thank you Tiffabee, but like I said in my post, I think we agree more than we disagree.

    I have read your blog and your posting guidelines, etc. and I am aware of your efforts to avoid “thin-bashing”. We’re all human, though, and don’t always get it right.

    A while back, I wrote a post in which I inadvertently implied that “pretty” women cannot also be intelligent. Of course, I don’t believe that at all, and did not mean to imply it. I was glad someone brought it to my attention.

    So, I hope you understand that my post was not intended to chastise you. I truly believe that we are on the same “team” here and only wanted to try and help “the team” stay on track.

    Also, for the record, when I said to Rose that there is no excuse for “this” kind of behavior, I was speaking in general; not specifically about you.

    Thank you again for taking the time to read my post (I do ramble on a bit, hence the title of this blog) and for your thoughtful reply.

    You are welcome here any time. 🙂

  • tiffabee

    Thanks so much! I appreciate that:-)

  • Womens Plus

    I think plus size should be reworded to say, “your size”. Everyone is different and the right size they feel they need to be, unless you are abusing your body with too much eating or not enought too. Sheesh, I wish we could get over this size thing.

    All the best,
    Kris

  • Lottie

    I don’t like the term either. That’s why I usually put it in quotes. When I don’t, it’s only because I forgot.

    Thanks for commenting. 😀

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