Lately I’ve seen several videos or general Internet posts about loving your curves. Thank God. As a teen, I was chubby. I felt like I was wrong. There were no idols or messengers readily available to say that I should love my chubs. I vividly remember a magazine that on one page chastised the modeling industry for promoting blatantly unhealthy body types, and on the next page used those same models with microscopic waists to demonstrate fall fashions.
Today, there are role models. There are women with curves who say that curves are good. They provide a younger generation with hope for acceptance. They make larger ladies feel more confident and less self-conscious. All of this is good.
But there is a price. It seems like many of the spokeswomen for curves can’t speak up for curves without either directly or indirectly saying something negative about thin women. It’s as if in retribution for not being classified as the current cultural ideal, there is a need to vilify individuals who fit the current “model” mode.
Ladies, let’s be real. Why can’t we exalt being fat or thin, and everything in between, without putting down our opposites?
Ideals on body size are malleable. My mom told me that in the 60’s, she used to get teased for being skinny. Her classmates called her Olive Oil, after Popeye’s girlfriend. Her scrawniness was not considered a blessing. If she’d been a teen in the 2000’s she’d probably be considered crazy hot.
Socially desirable body types change over generations and across cultures. Germany’s Renaissance artist, Rubens was famous for commemorating fleshy women. A few centuries later and the English Victorian era brought on corsets that made every effort to reduce waists to zero while lifting breasts to impressive heights (the only casualty being lung capacity).
Today, it seems clear that the model ideal is tall and thin. Everything else is just so-so according to fashion week. I’m sure some women believe that growing inches and dropping pounds is all it takes to achieve perfection and happiness. But truly, no physique is perfect, and curvy or thin, it’s most important that we’re happy with ourselves and we treat our bodies well.
In my life, I have purchased jeans in sizes ranging from size 2 to 18. I am 5’10” and my height combined with former size 2 frame might be considered ideal. At a size 2, I still had cellulite. My thighs still touched. My waist was tiny and my body fat was low, but I can testify that it was not perfect.
I still felt awesome as a skinny minnie. I ate unending vegetables, drank infrequently, and was able to run at super speeds. My body felt healthier and more energetic than ever. It wasn’t perfect, and I definitely had body image issues. I can honestly say I obsessed over my shape and felt disappointed that my body didn’t look like those in magazines. It was like I’d leveled up to the ultimate size, and found that I was still lacking. But over time I realized that I physically felt good, I felt comfortable in my skin, and I could let the other stuff go and be happy with where I was.
Right now, I’m hanging in around a 4-6. I’m out of marathon training, which usually sees me gain a few pounds. Training for my next race starts this week and I anticipate I may go back to the minute frame after a couple of months in the regime. Unfortunately, I know from experience that being thin garners as much judgment, both positive and negative, as being overweight. Frankly, I didn’t want to be judged as a chubby chick, and I also don’t want to be judged as a skinny one. I’d rather have folks form opinions on me based on who I am. I am smart, I like to read, I like to play music, I run obscene distances and I watch an absurd amount of trash tv. All of this says more about me than my pant size.
It feels like anyone who calls attention to being awesome for being any specific body type shifts the conversation from being about personal attributes to being strictly about size. I understand that body image is an important part of the female psyche, but should it be the most important? In a perfect world, would we judge ourselves on our size, or on something else?
So ladies, I’d like us all to make a pact. Let’s all agree to love ourselves, regardless of our size or shape. Let’s agree not to judge each other for being big or small. Let’s agree to focus on mind and body health. Let’s decide to change the conversation from being fat or thin, to a discussion on what makes us tick.
This is me. And I’m going to try to to keep happy with that.