Are Thin Women Not “Real”?

In the wake of International Women’s Day this week, the debate once again ignited over discrimination against so-called “real” women who claim that models are “unrealistic representations of the average female body“.

First of all, I am not saying we should continue to promote women who are underweight, unhealthily thin. However, it’s not discrimination for models to be slender. The idea behind models is to be attractive enough to enhance the beauty of what they’re wearing. As you read on, we’ll dissect what is behind this perception of beauty and ideal body shape. What *is* discrimination, is to outcast slender women in the size 6-8 category and below, from being classed as “real”.

Second of all, the self-esteem issues faced by women are often used to offer outrageous exaggerations. For example, when describing the airbrushed women on magazine covers, the term “emancipated skeleton” is offensively published as a sweeping generalisation, however, dare to call a size-12+ woman “slightly overweight” and you will be shunned and called a chauvinistic bigot. Yes, I agree that there are emancipated skeletons showing off dresses on catwalks and this has to stop. However, replacing “underweight” with “overweight” is just as ridiculous.

Here are some important definitions you should familiarise yourselves with:

  • Anorexic: unhealthily thin, with the body of a starved, emaciated pre-pubescent teen.
  • Skinny/Thin: Someone at a good balance of attractive and healthy, eg:  Hayden Panettiere, Natalie Portman, Miranda Kerr, Kate Hudson. Very much as “real” as women get, by the way.
  • Curvy: The category people get confused with the most. You have to be born with voluptuous body proportions like Beyonce, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Simpson (pre-binge) or Kim Kardashian to fall into this category. Sorry, but having pear-shaped thighs doesn’t automatically brand you “curvy”.
  • Overweight / Fat / Chubby:Fat is like credit card debt, if someone tells you that it’s not a problem, then they are a goddamned liar. While you can still be attractive with a little, the more you accumulate, the worse you are for it. Examples: Beth Ditto, Jessica Simpson (post-binge), Camryn Manheim, Kirstie Alley. It’s great that they’re celebrities, but petitioning to glorify them as “real” body sizes for women to feel great about is actually contributing to the international obesity epidemic, and is an unhealthy ideal for children to be aiming for.

Fat / Overweight vs Curvy vs Thin / Slender. Two out of three deserve to be models.

Supporters of such activists as the “Ambassadors for Real Women” will be quick to point out that the average size of Australian women is 16. Interestingly, men don’t go demanding that Iain Hewitson become the new poster boy for men’s body size. We accept the fact that despite the ever-increasing national weight average, the ideal male body remains closer to Hugh Jackman as portrayed in the movie Australia, while many women would rather pick a further chiselled, toned male like Jake Gyllenhaal as their ideal “real man”. We’re OK with that.

Biologically, instinctual, almost every man and woman I know, gravitate their admiration and attraction towards physically toned human beings. However, to go on with this debate any further, one needs to scientifically define what “overweight” and “ideal” is.

Doctor’s Orders: Overweight vs Ideal

According to doctors, an ideal weight is defined by the Body Mass Index and Body-Fat Percentage index. For a 5’6″ woman, this is 53-58.9 kg, or 117-130 pounds. Any heavier, and the risk of health issues such as heart disease and diabetes begins to increase. The full index can be seen here.

But wait, I hear some argue. BMI is an outdated and ineffective measurement, despite being used for the past 200 years. Surely we should look to it’s more modern successor: the BAI (Body Adiposity Index). BAI is in fact a ratio of hip circumference to height. WHR (waist to hip circumference ratio) is another researched measurement that has concluded that an 0.7 WHR is a marker of optimal fertility among women: a biological fact that backs up what most men have gravitated towards all along. The equivalent ratio for men is SWR (Shoulder to Waist), optimised at 0.75 or lower. More information can be found here.

Fertility and attractiveness aside, promoting male or female models with body sizes outside an ideal zone is a health hazard. This goes for underweight, too. The fact that Westernized countries are growing increasingly overweight is absolutely no cause to lower the standard. To all “real women” activists out there, slender, toned women continue to deserve higher physical admiration whether they work hard for their body shapes or achieve it with no effort, even more so today where social conditioning and longer office hours means it’s harder not to concede to cheap, fast, unhealthy diets.

The Real Issue

Not every woman can control their body size, nor can every man. However, many can. Look at the statistical increase. We should be banding together and putting pressure on the food industry to cap fast-food advertising, encourage exercise with national, government-backed campaigns, promote smaller portions and healthy eating. There is unfortunately a huge market out there for plus-size clothing, and there always will be a market. But we are igniting the wrong end of the candle. The brainwashing that being fat is actually “real” while slender girls are not, and the market rebranding it as “curvy” or “plus size” and avoiding the words “fat” or “overweight” altogether is a very dangerous notion to keep promoting.

Source: Grab Bag: Are Thin Women Not “Real”?

Further Reading: Calculate your own BAI (Body Adiposity Index): CLICK HERE

Leonardo DaVinci's drawing of the female form.

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Categories: Beliefs, Morals, Entertainment, Health, Medicine, People

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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24 Comments on “Are Thin Women Not “Real”?”

  1. Not to start off on the wrong foot, but I think you’re trying to say “emaciated skeletons” and not emancipated – completely different term there. I don’t think we’re talking about rail thin models trying to gain political rights. (Although…)

    Now that we’ve settled that issue, let’s move onto the important stuff. Let me start by clarifying something for you: The term “real women” does not solely mean women that are sized 16+, nor is it meant to glorify being unhealthy and overweight. Rather, it is a term to describe women of ALL shapes and sizes – be they a size 6 or 26.

    There is no denying that skinny girls are just a real as the plus size girls. People do relate to the skinny models because there are a lot of skinny women out there. Unfortunately, the fact that women above a certain size even exist at all has been swept under the rug by Western society for decades. Whenever we open a magazine or look up at a billboard, we see rail thin women that often have ribs sticking out around their taut tummies. What most people don’t realise is that these pictures are often heavily airbrushed and even “sculpted”, meaning that the photographer has used a computer program to manipulate the face and body shape of the subject in the photograph. To combat this issue on the catwalk, designers more often than not choose emaciated models to display their fashions – no sculpting required! These factors create a very unrealistic representation of women in the media, portraying just one body shape when women come in many shapes.

    The problem lies in the fact that our children are presented with these sculpted, unrealistic representations of one body shape as “the norm”. As a result, instances of serious eating disorders (i.e. anorexia and bulimia) have increased dramatically over the years, most notably in children. Research conducted by Dr Sloane Madden between 2008 and 2009 showed a 50% increase in the number of young people presenting to his hospital unit with a serious eating disorder*(1).

    Further to that, some doctors are still using ineffective measurements of health such as the BMI Scale. This form of measurement only takes into account a person’s height/weight ratio. It doesn’t take into account other vital factors to one’s healthy weight such as bone structure, metabolism, genetics, etc. Just because something has been used for a certain number of years doesn’t mean it is right. (Case in point: Tape worms were sold in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to ingest for weight loss and general health. We have since learned that this is an extremely unhealthy practice.)

    I won’t mince words: Excess weight can be unhealthy. However, it is possible to have some excess weight and lead a healthy lifestyle. The models of Curvy Revolution are a size 16+, but we promote “positive body image, a healthy lifestyle and body acceptance in all women, regardless of size” (2). It is NOT unfortunate that there is a market for plus size clothing. Looking and feeling your best is the first and most important step to becoming a happier, healthier human being. Why should plus size women not be afforded this same right just because they have some excess baggage?

    Finally, we don’t believe that skinny models should be removed from the catwalk. Keep them on there because that IS a shape that some women can identify with. However, throw some of the curvy and…yes…even overweight girls in the mix. (And for the love of God…STOP sculpting photographs!) Having plus size women on the catwalk isn’t glorifying obesity and bad health. It’s about showing women – ALL women – that they deserve to be counted.

    Devon LaSalle, Plus Model for Curvy Revolution and “Body Image Ambassador” – beingcounted.blogspot.com

    1. Cited from “Children with eating fisorders on the rise: study” by Sophie Scott, 19 April 2009. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2009/04/19/2546595.htm

    2. Cited from “Agency Overview” of Curvy Revolution. http://www.realwomen.com.au/agency-overview.html

  2. March 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for taking the time to craft that response Devon!

  3. Pamela Whittaker
    March 15, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    Devon speaks for a *lot* of us. Personally, I’m honored to call her a friend. I’m most often content to sit back and let her do the speaking as she does it so well 🙂

    I live in a regional area of Australia, where a lot of us are plus-sized. But are the shops catering to the majority? No, they cater to the minority. And this includes mass market stores like Target and K-Mart. It’s not only fashion designers who need to make a mix of sizes, it’s the stores where women who don’t have a lot of income to spend on clothes have to shop. So while there is a “huge market”, it’s not being catered to. Yes, there are shops and online stores with plus sizes that look good, but they also charge an arm and a leg. I don’t understand why plus size men don’t get charged more, while women do. My husband can get a nice pair of slacks for $39. It costs two or three times that for me!

    Unfortunately I’m one of those who can’t exercise like I’d like to, because of severe osteoarthritis, though I am moving us towards a more healthy diet. But in the meantime, it couldn’t hurt to have clothes that look like something other than a muumuu!

    • March 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

      Hello ladies, thank you for all your comments. You are all making valid points. I only want to point out that my main issue and reason for writing the article was because while I agree with employing methods to raise the self-esteem of plus-size women and make them feel beautiful and catered for, I disagree fundamentally with the label of “Real Women”. You can disclaim all you like that all women are real, because they are. But turning “Real” into a brand identifying itself with plus-size models is as discriminatory and isolating as a bunch of heterosexual men claiming that they are “Real” men. Perhaps I should have made a few more suggestions for alternatives in my article, in order to drive the point home further. Why not adopt a less arrogant name to represent plus-size women that doesn’t both insult and put-down those who are a healthy/slender weight. For example, how about “Ample Women” or simply stick with “Plus Size”. Or any adjective that can be rebranded in a positive way. Whatever you want. But not “Real”. You may as well call yourselves “Better Women”, and that is plain not true. It is one thing to raise the self-esteem and pride of your demographic, it is another to imply the lowering of the validity of another group of people in doing so.

  4. Jennifer Frank
    March 15, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    First, I think Devon’s response was well thought out and hit many points. Thank you, Devon!

    Second, women are looked upon in society as objects to be desired by men, as you so eloquently stated, unless they don’t fit a certain criteria. 36-24-36 at least that is what it was when I was growing up. To make the statements that overweight women are unhealthy is judgmental and stereotyping. If we’re suppose to live and be tolerant of EVERYONE then why should overweight women be left out. Now don’t get me wrong I understand what you said, but be honest men in general are vision oriented and a great deal find overweight women unattractive. Thus your blog defending skinny/thin models. However, should that mean treating overweight women so horribly? I guess by overlooking their needs for clothing that is attractive will force them to get in line, right? Or making nasty comments about how they look pushes them to change their appearance? Acknowledging how they must be unhealthy because they don’t fit your criteria will cause them to wake up and say “Wow he’s right” and “I didn’t see it”? Or if something nice is said and it lifts them up or makes them feel beautiful they will remain that way? Don’t you think that overweight women are quite aware of how they look? How they don’t measure up? They have feelings and want to feel beautiful and not reminded that for whatever reason they can’t seem to reach that skinny level that men so desire them to reach so they can be “turned on”.

    Also, do not blame fast-food advertising or lack of the government for not pushing exercise as the reasons for women being overweight. There are so many reasons why women are overweight and fast food is not consistently the reason. There are such things as thyroid issues which prevent weight loss, to much cortisol production will block the body from losing weight and other issues. Would you dare say to an overweight woman, who can’t exercise because doctors told her that if she moves wrong it could kill her, that she is less of a person because she’s overweight? Better yet tell her to get out there and exercise or just eat less even though she is abiding by a 1500 calorie diet for her height and weight?

    By giving overweight women a sense of “I’m beautiful” no matter what my size will not send the message that it is okay to be overweight. It’s called being compassionate. I’ve heard the argument before about “if I tell you you’re beautiful I’d be lying” because you’re overweight and it is a poor one. Why not try and see what the inside of an overweight woman has to offer first before you pass judgment on the outside. Believe me when I say majority of overweight women DO NOT want to be unhealthy and want desperately to be accepted and made to feel beautiful.

  5. She-ra
    March 16, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    He was also stating being underweight is as unhealthy as being overweight. I’m really sick of hearing this bullshit debate about curvy vs skinny. Both sides bash each other,both sides are at fault. Promoting either underweight and being overweight isn’t right, children have to see it. Thin women think all curvy women all mean to them. Curvy women think thin women are snobby towards them. It’s really ridiculous,women should learn to accept themselves and stop bashing each other.

    People need to learn to be happy with themselves. If they are truly happy with themselves, they wouldn’t feel the need to bash or snidely comment on another persons physical appearance. I’ve learned I don’t need someone to make me feel beautiful,that feeling comes from me. Not some random woman or man on t.v. You shouldn’t let yourself feel bad because someone else has a different opinion. Everyone is beautiful in their own way, being healthy and happy matters more,than your own pant size.

    No one can really blame the media for posting such images of unrealistic standards of physical appearance. The media gives the people what they want,and what gets the highest ratings. Would people still continue to watch high rated shows, like the desperate housewives,if they had women/men on the show who were physically unpleasing to the eye for the majority of people? (NO,I’m not referring to physically unpleasing as only larger sized women/men,that’s stupid.) Isn’t it us,the public obsessed with actors, actresses,and models and the way they look? I know a percentage of people feel a triumph when they see an actress or actor let themselves go and look “normal”,rather than the unrealistic standard god-like physique. Western society is obsessed with beauty,and it’s that obsession that has caused all of this.

    I have recovered from an eating disorder. I find it insulting and demeaning of my feelings, that people say the media caused my disorder. While the media can be blamed in some places, they can’t take full responsibility . I suffered from sexual abuse as a child,obviously the media didn’t do that nor cause my disorder. However,there are exceptions where the media attributed to eating disorders,but not nearly enough to cast the blame on pictures.

    http://www.something-fishy.org/prevention/what.php
    http://www.something-fishy.org/prevention/what.php
    http://www.something-fishy.org/words/knowme.php

  6. Blythe
    March 17, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    There’s little I can say that Devon hasn’t already said beautifully, but I’d like to add that I’ve never wanted to replace “thin” women with plus-size women. I don’t want to see only one range of sizes–whatever that range is–represented. But the truth is that women come in all shapes and sizes, and that’s generally not represented in the media–if a woman’s above a size six (maybe an eight, if you’re feeling liberal), she generally disappears. She only reappears about ten sizes later, and that’s typically so she can be mocked and laughed at. If a woman isn’t thin, or “curvy”, as you have defined it here, she isn’t thought to be worthy of respect or dignity. All of these things do *not* create a healthy portrayal of women. I don’t want to sweep thin women under the rug and make them invisible in turn. Rather, I want variety.

    You write that women like Kirstie Alley and Camryn Manheim are ultimately promoting obesity. I would like to ask if you have any evidence that supports this assertion?

    Finally, if I may, I would also like to suggest that you watch “Killing Us Softly 4”. I think you would find it very relevant to the subject you’re exploring here, as it discusses the portrayal of women in the media, and the impact those portrayals have upon all women. You can find the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTlmho_RovY

  7. James Herron
    March 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Here is a study that found that exposure to “plus sized” models in advertising had negative effects on self esteem in women who have higher BMI’s: (http://asunews.asu.edu/20100316_business_admodelsize)
    Women are both the consumers of these fashion magazines and quite often the creative talent behind them as well. The simplest way to remove dangerously thin models from the catwalks and magazines is to stop buying the products they promote.

    While being overweight does not necessarily mean a person is unhealthy, excessive body fat is linked to a variety of health issues including heart disease and diabetes, people that have a BMI that categorizes them as “obese” are particularly at risk. While there may be many individual reasons for a person putting on weight, it is an undeniable fact that people in Western nations have progressively gotten fatter as grossly unhealthy fast foods such as McDonalds have become part of our regular diets– men, women and children are affected by this. I see nothing wrong with celebrating people of all shapes and sizes, but normalizing poor diets, lack of exercise and dangerous lifestyles can only harm society.

  8. March 23, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Hello ladies, thank you for all your comments. You are all making valid points. I only want to point out that my main issue and reason for writing the article was because while I agree with employing methods to raise the self-esteem of plus-size women and make them feel beautiful and catered for, I disagree fundamentally with the label of “Real Women”. You can disclaim all you like that all women are real, because they are. But turning “Real” into a brand identifying itself with plus-size models is as discriminatory and isolating as a bunch of heterosexual men claiming that they are “Real” men. Perhaps I should have made a few more suggestions for alternatives in my article, in order to drive the point home further. Why not adopt a less arrogant name to represent plus-size women that doesn’t both insult and put-down those who are a healthy/slender weight. For example, how about “Ample Women” or simply stick with “Plus Size”. Or any adjective that can be rebranded in a positive way. Whatever you want. But not “Real”. You may as well call yourselves “Better Women”, and that is plain not true. It is one thing to raise the self-esteem and pride of your demographic, it is another to imply the lowering of the validity of another group of people in doing so.

  9. Andrew…I’m going to be blunt with you for a moment: You’re trying to polish a turd here. I apologise for the crassness of that comment, but you’re trying to put a veil over the real point of your article by backtracking and contradicting yourself. If you really wanted to help raise the self-esteem of plus size women, you would not have put this as the caption of the main image in your article: “Fat / Overweight vs Curvy vs Thin / Slender. Two out of three deserve to be models.” Furthermore, you would not have said that skinny women are, “…very much as ‘real’ as women get…” while proceeding to proclaim overweight women as unattractive. This article was nothing more than a sounding board for you to say what you personally do and do not find attractive.

    Furthermore, you are attacking a brand name without actually reading and acknowledging the philosophy and mission of said brand. The Real Women Australia website clearly states on the front page that:

    “Real Women Australia believes that all women deserve great fashion. We strive to provide you with the tools to make the MOST of who you are TODAY, and recognise that you are deserving of your very best every day, regardless of size!”

    Let me give you a bit of background on this amazing company: RWA was originally branded as “Real Women Have Curves”. This name originated from the plus size empowerment movement in the United States starting with the 2002 movie titled Real Women Have Curves. However, the company was later rebranded as Real Women Australia to acknowledge and recognise that ALL women are real, regardless of size.

    True – this company strives to assist and empower women sized 16+ and promotes models of the same size range through Curvy Revolution. However, this is because there are absolutely NO other resources for women over a certain size. I can present you with an endless list of stylists for women sized 0 to 14, but RWA is the ONLY company in Australia that caters to women above this size range. RWA recognises the dire need for this sort of service for plus size women and strives to empower women of ALL sizes to look and feel their very best.

    Furthermore, plus size fashion is routinely modelled on women that are NOT plus sized at all. In most cases, the clothing is actually pinned back to fit these skinny models. The fashion industry is dominated by skinny women, and the media is more than happy to assist with ensuring that these are the only images we see. However, women over a certain size see precious little that they can relate to, leaving them feeling like they’re less human than the rest of the population. With all the resources at their fingertips, skinny women don’t really need much more empowerment. Plus size women can use all the help they can get. That is what Curvy Revolution is about – providing the Australian fashion industry a realistic and identifiable representation of women – ALL women.

    You have branded Intentious as a new-sharing site. While I appreciate that you are entitled to your own opinion, you have a responsibility as a journalist to provide the whole truth on the issues you discuss in your news articles. If you would rather spout out biased opinions on issues and attacks on people or companies without properly presenting the facts, perhaps you should rebrand Intentious as a blog.

    • March 27, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

      Intentious is deliberately a biased news-sharing site. Read the About Us page for more information. This site has no obligation to remove bias from any opinion pieces on news shared. The point of providing a comments section is so that readers can then debate the multiple sides and opinions as you are doing.

      Also, if Real Women Australia really did represent all women and not just use that mission statement to protect themselves legally then they would show pictures and stock clothes for women of all shapes and sizes. I stand by what I wrote. It’s not my job to personally raise the self-esteem of anybody: it’s my job to raise a point of contention on a contentious site: that “Real Women” is a lie.

  10. March 23, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Well said Devon! You have managed to completely fill the gaps in the above ‘article.’ This is in fact an opinion piece. Whilst Andrew is entitled to his own opinion, it is not communicated in a way that actually does what he was intending. Andrew, we in the ‘plus size’ world can only hope that others learn to eventually see the beauty in all shapes and sizes. As Anthony Robbins says to Mauricio in the movie Shallow Hal:

    M: You hypnotized him. (Talking about Hal)
    AR: No, I dehypnotized him. He’s been hypnotized his whole life, totally focused on the outside. I helped him to see the inner beauty in everyone, including people YOU think are not physically attractive.

    M: How can he see their inner beauty when he doesn’t even know them?

    AR: Inner beauty’s easy to see when you’re looking for it.

    M: But how can he not feel them when he’s…?

    AR: The brain sees what the heart wants it to feel.

    M: All right, look. Let’s just cut through the old crapcake here!

    AR: OK.

    M: Sir, don’t you think it’s wrong to brainwash someone?

    AR: Don’t you think you’re brainwashed? Everything you know about beauty is programmed. TV, magazines, movies. They’re all telling you what’s beautiful and what isn’t.
    —–
    Maybe it’s time to break the hold of the current view of beauty and expand it out to include all shapes and sizes. For you Andrew, I really hope that you are able to open your eyes to the possibility that beauty does not have to be dictated by society and only look one particular way. All women are beautiful if you wish to see it. If not, it is more of a statement about you, than what is real.

    To all the ‘plus size’ ladies out there wishing to feel good about yourselves, you are welcome to browse our affordable range of clothing designed specifically for the plus size lady at http://www.plussizedclothing.com.au.

  11. James Herron
    March 24, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    I think it is unfair to represent Andrew’s piece as merely a sounding board for his own opinions. It is a discussion of the fashion industry, and by extension, society and the body types we collectively describe as aesthetically pleasing.

    Andrew’s image caption “Fat / Overweight vs Curvy vs Thin / Slender. Two out of three deserve to be models.” was indeed unfair, anyone who can successfully sell a brand “deserves” to be a model. The reality though is that people with body types that can be described as overweight or obese are very unlikely to have successful careers as models because there is very little demand for that type of model. Many people will blame the fashion industry and media for portraying thin women as beautiful, but the media is merely a reflection of our own personal opinions and biases. If the majority of people wanted to see larger women on the covers of magazines and on the catwalks they’d be there. That isn’t to say there is no market for these types of models, but they simply don’t have the mass appeal that models with thinner body types do. There is a great deal of evidence that our body type preferences have a basis in evolution. A study was recently released that found even congenitally blind men still prefer the hip to waist ratio Andrew sited in the article. The abstract for that study can be found here: http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138%2809%2900109-3/abstract. The article in full can be found for anyone that has access to ebsco host. That is not to say that every person will find the same body type attractive– attraction is a very personal thing– however for an advertiser or a fashion brand to reach the maximum number of people possible they need to present the image with the strongest mass appeal.

    Attraction is by no means rational. People do not have any real control over who or what they find attractive. The above article I quoted found that plus sized women felt worse about themselves after being exposed to plus sized models, which suggests to me that we have very little rational control over the things we aspire to either. And while people can logically accept the fact that women of all sizes should be represented in fashion, we as consumers collectively vote with our feet time and time again for body types considered conventionally beautiful.

  12. PP
    April 3, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    I completely agree with this article… And this is coming from a size 16 girl lol…

    I could go on with my opinions but I really can’t be bothered with the responses I’ll get.

  13. Amanda Lee
    April 6, 2011 at 2:45 pm #

    I agree that Devon has stated things wonderfully.
    While I can understand the way you see it, dear author, I need to tell you the current way that women are represented in the media is a huge problem. I am writing as someone who has only been out of highschool for a few years, and I can assure you that fashion ads in magazines played an extremely detrimental part in growing up for me. I was bullied in school for my weight, by my fellow classmates. And all I can say is this: What to teenage girls read? Magazines. Cosmo…Teen Vogue…you name it, we read it. And yes, the only type of female represented in those magazines are stick thin. So what else would we be inspired to become? All around you, you are your fellow female classmates, many of which at this point are naturally thin, or involved in sports. Do you know what happens to girls who don’t look like that? Considering high school kids are usually pretty immature…nothing good happens. I had weight on me despite being actively involved in sports due to my medication…and it honestly made life hell for me. I struggled with an eating disorder throughout a good portion of highschool, and well into the beginning of my college experience. I have lost weight through exercise and HEALTHY eating since, but the mentality of an eating disorder does not always leave you so easily. I could go on for ages about how much your article deeply bothers me, however, I think it would be much better to present you with what I would consider an example of change; of a middle ground.
    In 2009, Glamour magazine began using plus sized models. I personally feel that I can support this. These girls are all really beautiful, and they have a wide range of body types and appearances. I do agree that America has an undeniable weight problem, but that kind of overweight is the other end of the spectrum from skeletal models. In the wide range between the two extremes, there are girls on the skinnier end, and girls on the end with a little more weight, but every one deserves to be represented. It is not fair to be bombarded with size 0’s and 2’s. Why not even it out? There is no shame in being any size at all, but in magazines you will almost never even see a size 10 or 12, which are absolutely normal sizes.
    In case you are interested in the article, here it is:
    http://www.glamour.com/health-fitness/2009/10/these-bodies-are-beautiful-at-every-size?currentPage=1

  14. Peapod
    July 11, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    I know it’s late in the game to be posting this but I do mostly agree with the writer.

    I mean…what IS a “real” woman? I think the movement has good intentions but in that process they forget that some women ARE naturally small framed along with large/medium whatever frames.

    The idea of a “true” or “real” anything to me is often iffy territory.

  15. Mark
    July 28, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    We shouldn’t glorify obese and overweight women anymore than we would glorify an alcoholic man (which we don’t).

    You have curves and you’re not ashamed…great. I don’t want you to be ashamed of yourself. All I ask is that you examine the health risks that come with being overweight and obese. I mean, what would you say if a man bragged about being an alcoholic, or a smoker?

    You bragging about your curves sends the messege that you don’t care about your health. You have accepted something that you can control and are using coping mechanisms to deal with the haters.

  16. Nullagravida
    September 16, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    “The problem lies in the fact that our children are presented with these sculpted, unrealistic representations of one body shape as “the norm”. As a result, instances of serious eating disorders (i.e. anorexia and bulimia) have increased dramatically over the years, most notably in children. Research conducted by Dr Sloane Madden between 2008 and 2009 showed a 50% increase in the number of young people presenting to his hospital unit with a serious eating disorder*(1).”

    First off, let me start by saying La Salle, that prefacing a statement with “fact” might be a simple rhetorical device, but it does not magically turn conjecture into fact.
    What you have presented, L a Salle, is a post hoc ergo propter hoc, or logical fallacy. Eating disorders are a legitimate public health problem and I empathise with your concern. However, to suggest that there is a causal link between eating disorders and the popular presentation of body images displays a flippant and rather over-simplification of a very complex mental illness. Eating disorders are not over-zealous dieting or associated with extreme aesthetic as frequently postulated in tabloid media pop psychology. Eating disorders are a mental illness frequently associated with the patient’s desire to maintain physical control over a nominally uncontrollable aspect of their lives. The failure to manage control is instead manifested in the metaphorical association of their body with the illusion of control. In other words, controlling the body and resisting the urge to eat empowers the sufferer and replaces the sufferer’s sense of disempowerment.
    Eating disorders have been traced back through the course of humanity long before the appearance of mass advertising. Before eating disorders were pathologised by modern medicine, self-starvation has been observed in Western society as far back as medieval times, associated with traditions of self-denial through fasting. This phenomenon represented the fasters’ refusal to partake of “indulgences” and to “sin” though food. The fasting practices of female saints approximate the practices involved in self-denial of food by women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in the late twentieth century.
    What is known today as anorexia nervosa, became the focus of intense medical attention only when prominent physician to Queen Victoria, Sir William Gull (1816-1890), published his text Anorexia Hysterica. Gull coined the term anorexia nervosa to distinguish the disorder from the umbrella term “hysteria.” His conclusion that anorexia nervosa was a psychological disorder was immensely significant (Hepworth 1999). Previously, self-starvation was associated with different traditions like theology or folklore, but his work moved the study of anorexia nervosa into the field of psychiatry.
    The other well-known eating disorder, bulimia, has been described in ancient texts with references to binging and purging appearing among the recommendations of ancient Egyptian physicians and appearing in the Hebrew Talmud (AD 400-500). Once again, it is only in modern times that bulimia has been identified as a mental illness.
    Contemporary scholarly research indicates that child sexual abuse is linked to a greater likelihood of developing eating disorders in adolescence.
    That there are of certain images of women in the popular media and that you have presented as the existence of eating disorders does not mean that the two phenomena are linked, nor does it indicate causation. Disturbingly your over-simplification of eating disorders suggests an insensitivity for the complexity of a mental illness that may be linked to child sexual abuse and, by trivialising this condition, you show an inadvertent contempt for eating disorders sufferers.
    And sure, the number of children presenting with eating disorders may be on the rise and that figure is a 50% increase –it is quantative, so it sounds impressive. But the prevalence of eating disorders ( a largely middle-class affliction) and the cost to public health is a trifle compared to the public health costs of overweight and obesity (a largely working-class affliction).
    The Curvy Revolution website your promote here does not seem to support your rhetoric here . To quote “Are you an Australian size 16 or above?? (Curvy girls only please)” along with the usual rhetoric of “real”.
    I beg your pardon? Since when did dress size correlate to body shape?! To suggest that only women over a certain dress size are predetermined to be “curvy” insinuates that someone of a smaller dress size is, conversely, not curvy.
    If one is overweight and one actually is curvy, great, that is a fitting descriptor. However, if one is a bit large and one’s measurements are about the same from breasts to waist to hips, then I fail to see how that is “curvy”. I have to ask why I am excluded from the “curvy” club. My waist is 24 inches and my hips are 36 inches. Just because I’m smaller than 16, those of your ilk have determined that I am not curvy because of my dress size despite having a larger hip to waist ratio.
    So, to follow the subtext of the Curvy Revolution website; women of dress size 16 or higher are curvy and they are real, ergo, women of dress size smaller than 16 are not curvy and therefore are not real women.
    Are curves the only factor that determines womanhood? Note that this phrase keeps the issue firmly in the realm of the physical–the mainstream claim is that women are valuable when they’re thin; the “real women have curves” backlash just turns that message around: “women are valuable when they have curves.” It does not change the obsession with body image, it only shifts the focus of discrimination.
    We need to get past this bitchy and catty and pathetic argument about who’s more physically desirable and instead focus on developing respect for ourselves and each other–not because of how we look, but because we’re people.

  17. Julie
    February 8, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    I grow tired of how bigger women hate on skinny women all the time. Even if you don’t look anoerexic, in their eyes you are. They will do things like talk behind your back, lie about you and get their friends to gang up on you. This doesn’t stop after highschool either.

    Just because there is a tall thin model on a magazine doesn’t give women the right to hate on thin women. If you are trashy on the inside you are ugly. Females don’t have much back up for other women anymore. It’s all about who can be the biggest gossipy drama queen and people should stop rewarding women like that.

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