The impending sense of doom for Western women’s confidence
“We really don’t need the pressure of fast metabolism models and weight loss groups making us feel more uncertain, more unattractive and more unhappy than we already do.”
Every woman in the western hemisphere knows this feeling. It’s the feeling of contempt when you have to find the LBD (“Little Black Dress” if you don’t know the 411). It’s the sickening feeling at the pit of your stomach when you know you have to buy a new pair of jeans for the winter. It`s the spine chilling sensation you get when you have to find a new blouse for work...
We know that these things are not the end of the world but every woman will agree with me that unless you are a size 6, Skinny Minnie with an inexhaustible amount of money there is always going to be an issue. When milling around shops such as Topshop and River Island, there is an automatic feeling of snobbery from the fellow shoppers around you; you can hear them thinking to themselves “What is that `12` doing in here? Surely she should be in somewhere like Dorothy Perkins or another slightly less stylish shop than this one?”
I do realise that there will be people who are like that, heck! Most people have their bitchy moments but this feeling I get from the shops themselves is not right. It seems unless you fit in the shops main “quota” which is size 8-16 you are in the club, but if you are larger than that then you are not worth most of the shops on your high streets time... This is just wrong, considering the average size of a female in the UK is around size 16, but slowly going up to an 18; which means most of us are just squeezing into our “jeggings” and “skinnies” for dear life. We want the right to feel beautiful in our clothes; not mere mortals who are being just let into the kingdom of high street cool by being slightly under average and are the only ones worthy of this due to it.
Being a size 12, this is about normal for my age. I am slightly rounded but not enough to be seen as “unfit for” the likes of New Look and H&M. This is great and all but what about the bigger picture? What about when we look at the media around us and see size 4 (Or the American Size Zero) models prancing about on the catwalk making us, the “average Josie”, feel inadequate compared to her perfect frame and sought over looks? Are we meant to say “Yeah, I see what Vogue means? I need to see my collar bone protruding out in a worrying manner to feel like I am socially accepted by the superficial people around me”. No, we shouldn’t, we should feel like we are god damn amazing in our bodies... But sadly the blinkers on what is beautiful and healthy do not fall on our side of the court.
Fifty years ago the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Bridgette Bardot and Ursula Andress were ruling the screen and all of them averaging at around a size 14. Where is the origin of why modern culture has become so fixated on an ideal that we cannot reach, and that only the elite can obtain? I guess this is the way the “beautiful people” are decided…
Though what is the point in plastering this ideal when it’s having such a negative impact on women in the Western world? It`s because money talks. Huge industries such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers love taking reverence in women’s insecurities by making them think their bodies need to be more “lean” (like a piece of chicken) to feel like they can present themselves to the world with pride. Why? This fad ridicules us as women, why don’t men need to lose 10 pounds to feel like a “new person”? I know that there needs to be a line drawn in concerns over our health and that`s what they should be for! Not your size 14 thinking she needs to get down to an 8 to look amazing... she looks amazing as she is! Also why do these groups only advertise to women? Aren’t men just as prone to packing on the pounds after Christmas, if not worse? Why as a whole are men not as encouraged to fit to an ideal? Why don’t they feel as bothered to look like David Beckham as we do to look like Kate Moss? Shouldn’t there be as much pressure put on them to think they should go to the gym religiously? I realise that strain is put on men to be considered an alpha male, but nowhere near much as what is put on woman to feel like is an accepted; not just an ogre living on the verges of being feminine.
On the plus side it`s not all gloom and doom. The likes of Marks and Spencer`s cast women of all different sizes and ages to model their clothing; this gives us hope for maybe more companies to consider using more realistic people to advertise their clothing. Italian Vogue claims to use “plus size” models when it’s apparent the women they are photographing are probably around the size 14 mark... THAT IS NOT PLUS SIZE THAT’S NORMAL!! I hate this need for magazines to feel they are being all gun-hoe and letting the fat girl in by letting in a normal sized female not a stick... It’s going to take time before the media will evolve into something which lets in a variation of models of different sizes, different ethnicities and different ages... There is always a wall, a no for someone out there who doesn’t mesh into what is “perfect”, it needs to be broken down.
This change may not happen straight away, but there is time. Though my generation has been socialised to believe they have to be thin to be beautiful, there is hope- if we don’t have a defeatist attitude about our body image and tell ourselves that we are stunning we can do anything! Say no to Weight Watchers telling you lose a stone, say “f*** you” to the bitches who think you should leave the shop; and most of all don’t be deceived by the media making you believe that size 12 is “plus size”.
You are healthy and perfect however you are!