I was inspired to write this in response to novanilla's article "Attention Skinny Women Bashers: You're Not Helping Self-Esteem Either." I was a skinny girl once, and I'm a fat woman now, and I agree with very much of what was said. I too remember the concerned people who pulled me aside and asked if I had an eating disorder. Nowadays, I'd be more likely to be pulled aside and asked if I realize that obesity is unhealthy. And in both iterations, there is always the constant bombardment of input from the media telling me that my body isn't good enough the way it was.
The problem isn't so much that thin is glorified by the media. The problem is the entire concept that says women are meant to look flawless at all times.
Look at any gossip rag and you'll see titillated shock that some star was seen on the street in unflattering clothes, with her hair and makeup not perfectly done. Oh the horror! How dare they? Those women are meant to be beautiful sex symbols at all times, even when they don't know they're being photographed! How often do you see a similar story about a male star? They pretty much have to wear Crocs in public or be arrested while drunk or high for it to happen. Men are generally allowed to be scruffy whenever they like.
Well they signed up for it by making themselves into celebrities, some people say. But it isn't only Hollywood stars who get this treatment. Google the name of any female politician or athlete or activist, and you'll find critiques of her hairstyle and wardrobe choice. Or listen to the gossip around your office and see how often the women in your workplace have their appearance talked about, compared to the men.
Then there's Photoshop. Oh god, the Photoshop! With that, you can take a photo of a beautiful, but real, woman and sculpt her into a flawless image - or at least what the commissioners of the photo shoot think of as flawless! There are some clothing manufacturers - I won't name names - who abuse Photoshop to the point that the women in their shoots look almost like CGI models. Forget any body hair or evidence of shaving or waxing - their skin is so smooth as to look pore-less. They have no shadows across their body, no creases around the eyes or lips, no sign at all that their breasts have weight and are affected by gravity. And these examples don't even cover the Photoshop mishaps where women are reshaped by a computer to be so skinny as to defy anatomy. A recent case had a woman whose thigh was as thin as her arm!
Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a world where we could simply be ourselves? Where we didn't work ourselves into neuroses and unhappiness over trying to make our appearance meet some arbitrary standard set by others?
We're not perfect. Whether it's stretch marks or rib outlines that show in a swimsuit, we can't live up to the media image of what a "perfect" appearance should be. And we shouldn't try to. Let's embrace our reality - pores and wrinkles and all. Like novanilla says, the feminist answer is for us all to accept ourselves and each other - no critiques, no bashing, no holding up one body type as ideal over another. We're not perfect. But we are awesome.