There has never been a time in which body issues have been as addressed as nowadays. Modern studies show that low self-esteem is a leading cause for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, as well as other mental health illnesses like depression, and there is a great need of addressing this issue through the promotion of self-acceptance. In order to do this, people have realised that the media and other industries such as the fashion industry and Hollywood play an important role, and little by little, diversity is starting to be seen when comes to body shapes. However, the main problem right now isn’t that we still have a long way to walk: it is the raising number of people who think that bashing other bodies is a way of empowering theirs. And this totally defeats the purpose of self-acceptance.
One good example is Meghan Trainor’s song, “All About That Bass”. At the beginning, everyone seemed to love the song and its encouragement towards non skinny women. However, as time went by, more and more people came out as outraged and disgusted by the lyrics of the song, due to the use of lines such as “skinny bitches”, “i can shake it shake it like i’m supposed to do”, and “boys they like a little more booty to hold at night”. Here are a few opinions from the Youtube comments sections:
Although Trainor has already explained that the song aimed to empower all body types and the line “skinny bitches” was a joke, a lot of people see the song as a “thin shaming” anthem as part of the empowerment movement for a bigger acceptance of thick women in the media. And the best way to see if this is true is thinking that if someone sang the same song, but empowering skinny bodies and “joking” about thick bodies, would you be happy with it? In my case, the answer is no. I don’t believe that bashing others, even in a joking way, empowers me to accept my body. And I’m speaking as a thick woman by the way.
Another example is Victoria’s Secret latest campaign. Here you have a picture:
Without doubt, the slogan accompanying the image of this campaign created a wave of fury and backlash across the general public, resulting in responses like the ones below:
This is not the first time that Victoria Secret models are criticised, and probably it won’t be the last one. In the last years, they have been defined as “unhealthy”, “malnourished” and “unreal” by a great number of people wanting change in the fashion industry, who plays an important role in the self-acceptance of teen and young women. Fashion magazines and clothing adverts usually feature images of tall, light skinned and thin women to advertise beauty and fashion products, and this has an impact on what girls thinking perfection is. Even if nobody is indifference to the fact hat 99% of those images are highly photoshopped, experiencing low self-esteem because “you don’t look like the girl in the picture” and “guys won’t look at you because you aren’t as hot as that model” still happens across the female population. It must be admitted that as I said in the beginning, things are changing, and we can see more diversity in size as time advances. But photoshop is still an issue, and famous designer and magazine brands still refuse to feature women in their work who are not a “90-60-90”, because they want to offer “perfection” to customers.
Despite all of this, bashing Victoria Secret models non stop isn’t the answer to a bigger acceptance of thick women in these industries. Not all is as “unrealistic” as we think in runways: you can be naturally thin and tall. Moreover, models such as Jourdan Dunn have often said that they didn’t use to like how thin and tall they looked when they were younger: basically, no one can escape from self-acceptance issues. Furthermore, as “thin- shaming” has become more and more frequent, more and more people are taking a stand and defending thin and petite women against backlash. But again we have the same problem: people attack thick and larger women to do this.I can’t even count the number of times I have read phrases such as “fat people are just lazy people” or “fat women should complain less and care more about their health”. As a thick women who has quite of a healthy lifestyle and exercises regularly, I feel quite outraged by these comments. My family is a family of women with high bone density and muscular body shape. I have a slow metabolism: it is in my genes, I can’t help it. It is true that right now I’m overweight and I know it is not good: I’m trying to lose weight. But back when I wasn’t overweight (as said by my doctor), I was considered fat too by a lot of people. And it is important to say that I didn’t gain weight because I was “lazy”. I had health related issues.
The last example to discuss this topic is “Lammily”, the new “anti-Barbie” doll.
“An “anti-Barbie” – the Lammily doll – has gone on sale, creating the image of a “normal” 19 year old woman of real proportions, complete with the possibility for adding a plaster cast, freckles, acne, scars and temporary tattoos.
The idea behind the doll was to make one that reflects the image of a typical young woman rather than the overly idealized and clearly underweight Barbie doll who is, according to an interview with second-graders and a recent book, not entirely capable of rising to certain professions.
As well as the ability to add plaster cast, freckles, scars, acne and tattoos, you can also give Lammily glasses, stretch marks, mosquito bites and dirt stains.
The crowdfunding campaign to create the doll kicked off after creator Nickolay Lamm made a prototype of sorts for an art project. He gave the doll average body proportions using data from the Centre for Disease Control and placed it next to a Barbie doll.
Barbie has been heavily criticized as given her proportions it has been estimated that she would weigh around 110lbs as a real human – meaning a BMI of 16.24 which falls under the “anorexic” category. Lamm found in previous research that her sizing of 36-18-33 did not correspond at all to the average 32-31-33.”
To be honest, the idea behind this new doll is amazing and inspiring. For a young girl like me who grew up disliking Barbie due to her stereotypical fashionable women style and exaggerated use of the colour pink, this is quite an innovation and it can be empowering for young girls from the next generation. However, the thought of “Lammily” as an <> quite defeats its purpose because 1) there is no average body shape and 2) even if you look like Lammily, you can still be perfectly beautiful, not just <>. Maybe we should strive towards the creation of dolls with different body shapes, sizes and colours, not just one for everyone. Because as not every girl identifies with Barbie, not every girl will identify with Lammily. Nevertheless, Lammily is a great step for a bigger self-acceptance of women from a young age, in order to accept natural features we don’t often see in models such as acne, stretch marks and scars, and a natural looking face instead of one full of make up. Because natural is beautiful too.
On conclusion: self-acceptance is key to prevent certain mental and eating disorders. A lot women struggle to like how they naturally look due to the heavy promotion of certain body shapes, like being plain, skinny and tall, or being curvy with a big butt and big boobs, as well as the promotion of make up use and photoshop in order to look perfect in social events and pictures. There is a lot work that still needs to be done, but it is not only in media’s and the fashion industry’s hands: it is also about educating the public about how beauty is subjective, how different body shapes exist and how you can’t judge people’s health by their looks. Fat-shaming needs to end, but so does thin-shaming. Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong in using make up or wanting to tone up your legs. Just embrace who you are before polishing your beauty.
Sharing my thoughts and opinion,
Emily H. Featherington