Recently, I posted this picture on my Facebook page and it seems to have caused quite a stir.
You’ve probably seen this photo elsewhere, it’s sort of making the rounds right now. In fact, I hesitated to write this post, because this photo is being blogged about quite a bit lately but I had some things to get off my chest. I figure if you’re bored with this topic already, you can stop reading at any point.
I’ve battled with my weight my entire life. My weight fluctuates and would skyrocket if I stopped exercising regularly or decided to just eat anything and everything I wanted. I will never be naturally skinny, the best I’ll be is curvy and athletic. Which I’ve grown to love. Not to insult anyone out there, but I love my curves, I really do. I appreciate my shapely, hourglass figure. When I learned to do that, I found that my choices in food and exercise started to become more focused around improving my health, moods and general well being and less focused on the size of my jeans.
Apparently, many slender women are upset over this collage, which I totally get. I cannot speak for the creator of this collage, but for me, implying that slim women are not beautiful was never
my intent when I shared this. I personally know several beautiful women who are naturally slender. They eat, drink and enjoy life without obsessively exercising, counting calories or crash dieting. They run, bike and practice yoga for their health and for fun and for mental release. They see their own beauty when the look in the mirror as I see it when I look at them. I don’t look at them and think “Man, she needs to gain some weight and add some curves before she’ll be beautiful.” Just as they don’t look at me and think “Man, she needs to lose some weight and slim down before she’ll be beautiful.” (At least, that’s how they make me feel.) My friend Alicia is one of these women. She is the lovely little thing pictured at right and she is strong and healthy and beautiful. And in response to my posting this collage on Facebook, she shared this Sophia Loren quote with me…”Sex appeal is fifty percent what you’ve got and fifty percent what people think you’ve got.” And goes on to speak of the importance of beaming confidence, sexiness, decidedness, kindness…. in regards to what is really “hot.”
But we’re strong women. We’ve grown into strong willed, strong minded and strongly opinionated women. We’ve battled our demons in the closet and in the mirror and we won. Or at least we’re winning.
But many women, and girls, aren’t winning the battle yet. Thousands of women are fighting a losing battle with their mirror and themselves. And part of the reason is because the media is on the other side. Fighting against them. Everyday. Promoting women like Heidi Pratt (top, left) who admits to having at least ten plastic surgeries, including liposuction on her already thin frame. And Nicole Richie (top, second from left) who, while actually looking quite healthy in this photograph, admits to fighting a lifelong battle with an eating disorder, which she has stated she was only able to overcome due to fear for the life of her then unborn child. THAT is the problem here. Not that these women are thin. That these women are destroying themselves only to look a certain way. That society is continually beating us with images of rail thin models and actresses, photoshopped beyond recognition to make them thinner, longer and leaner and then marketing to us an unending stream of crash diets and exercise equipment so that we too can completely change our bodies into something more acceptable, because what we have isn’t good enough. That is what is really terrifying. And so many young girls and women are trying to look this way. Trying all sorts of crazy diets and “cleanses” (insert image of eye rolling here) to drop pounds and to look the way that someone else is telling them to. Or that they believe is the only way to be good enough because it’s what they see everyday, in print ads, commercials and entertainment. I said I know several naturally lithe women whose frames and builds are the result of genetics and healthy, well-intentioned living. Unfortunately, I also know several women whose thin frames are the result of severe deprivation and hours of punishing and painful workouts. It’s estimated that 7 million American women suffer from Anorexia. SEVEN MILLION. And 15%-20% of them will die from it. And for what? Some ridiculously photoshopped version of perfection? Woman aren’t suffering from eating disorders in effort to look more like Elizabeth Taylor or Bettie Page. Women aren’t putting their bodies through torturous workout regimens to look more like Sophia Loren. They’re trying to look more like Keira Knightly and Mary-Kate Olsen.
Let’s face it, if Bettie Page and Marilyn Monroe were working actresses today, would they be working? Seems doubtful. Many sources claim that Marilyn was a size 12-16, and Bettie Page was close to the same. Off the top of my head, I can think of one actress who fits into that range… Christina Hendricks. And she’s gorgeous. But one actress of hundreds is not enough to undo the societal mindset caused by an overabundance of images of skeletal women. (On the upside, Ms. Hendricks was voted the most beautiful woman in the world by a poll of females for Esquire magazine in 2010.) And if it takes a collage like the one above to remind the world that shapely women are hot too and that having curves is also beautiful, I’m going to share it.
One of my favorite bloggers, Kate Fields Bartolotta posted about this same photo recently and stated that we should do away with the term “real women.” But I disagree. I want to be a real woman. What we need to do is not insinuate that you need to look a certain way to be real women. Let’s learn celebrate real women. Woman who embrace who they are, be it slender, straight, athletic and curvy. Be it witty, shy, flirtatious or obnoxious. Woman who encourage other woman to be the best, healthiest and most beautiful versions of themselves. Woman who see perfection in uniqueness.
I am a real woman. and I’d rather be real than photoshopped.
Special thanks to Alicia for letting me use her image. xoxo