This summer, a friend posted an article on Facebook, the gist of which was that beauty standards are useless and that women should learn to approach their (and other women’s) bodies with more serenity – that was the attitude that the author described, which I found rather amusing given the annoyance she conveyed later in her article.
The problem I have is not with this message. I agree that many women struggle with their looks and figure solely because they are trying to strive for unattainable ideals that have little to do with reality. The author goes on to note that body positivity, or rather a relaxed approach to one’s own appearance, is rooted in the oh-so revolutionary idea that there are by far more significant aspects that make up a human other than waist circumference or body fat percentage. I am absolutely 100% in support of women, men and anyone in between figuring out how to be healthy and comfortable in their own skin.The issue starts when the author lists quite a substantial number of people who are supposedly not allowed to support others in their journey or share their own experiences. This goes from bloggers with perfect pores to supermodels who eat cheeseburgers.
The author criticizes women who are seemingly closer to the omnipresent, socially perpetuated ideal of beauty than the ‘average woman.’ By discrediting those ladies’ opinions and experiences, she implies – with a heavy dose of sass – that they have somehow fewer issues with their appearance, fewer flaws that can be pointed out and, therefore, do not have to face as much of a struggle as the rest of the female population. And I do find it terribly sad that in the eyes of some, body positivity is still seen as a journey only for women who are curvy, overweight, have stretch marks, acne or a surplus of body hair. The author, herself, mentions that the vast majority of women in her life are constantly worried about their looks. So I find it even more disappointing, that she would so easily go along with the fundamentally false stereotype that thin women have fewer worries.Slender ladies with great skin, tall athletes, models for global fashion empires, all of them are equally as prone to body dysmorphia, self-hate and self-criticism as that article’s supposed target audience. Declaring ‘better-looking’ women (whatever that means) not eligible for sympathy does a disservice to everyone and renders the body positivity movement severely exclusionary. Unfortunately, even one of the comments on the article spells out the question of why one should feel sympathy for a thin woman, what does she have to complain about (in terms of figure)?
Reading further, the author mentioning Gigi Hadid, a rather famous supermodel and Victoria’s Secret Angel. Apparently, Hadid had said in an interview that cheeseburgers with bacon are her go-to meal and that she has never been on a diet in her life. So, what is the easy route one can go when hearing such a statement? Disbelief, criticism, ridicule. But if you put your opinion on the internet and sign your name to it, dear god, dig a little deeper and think instead of shaming a person for their looks and dietary choices.
Of course, it may be unlikely that Hadid eats cheeseburgers on the regular, given her profession (though there are those among us who have fast metabolisms and work out like crazy). But is it really that difficult to recognize a person being very image conscious? She was saying those things in an interview with Vogue, a highly popular, widely read publication! And Gigi Hadid is a celebrity whom many young women and girls look up to. How big would the outcry have been if she had said yes, she is constantly on a diet and has never seen the inside of a loaf of bread? I’m clearly exaggerating here, but still. If she had made statements along those lines she would have been called a supporter of anorexia, a dangerous role model or even a ‘fat shamer’. I don’t believe it is her duty to revolutionize the view on health in the modelling/fashion industry and people should not force that narrative on her. Gigi Hadid’s life and career are not a teaching moment.
So why should it be considered acceptable to be a ‘skinny shamer’? It is equally hateful.
Moreover, it bothers me that the author first objects to the notion of finding inspiration in celebrities who proudly show their ‘flaws’ but then also finds flaws in celebrities trying to inspire by objecting to stereotypes. And this is only one of many instances throughout the article where she contradicts herself.
I’ve come to the conclusion, that this article with its many inconsistencies, gratuitous try-hard intellectual quotes and semantic mistakes was solely a means to stir up controversy. There is little value to the arguments and the final message is almost literally “don’t be vain.” Wow. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
So how about we try something different: how about instead of comparing ourselves or others to unrealistic beauty ideals and shame those who don’t fit our idea of body positivity we try to support one another in finding a way to be more comfortable with ourselves. Even if we don’t understand others’ struggles. Even if they’re completely different from our own.
Rather than fueling the divide between beautiful and not beautiful, I can fully relate to this person’s opinion:
Picture credit to the artists, please tell us if you know who they are!