I have a beef with society’s concept of beauty.
I know that many people do and many people before me have blogged about it.
My take I feel is probably going to be somewhat unique. And it might rub people the wrong way. Bear with me.
Today’s culture is definitely putting a lot of pressure on women, teens, and tweens to look a certain way in order to be beautiful. In order to be beautiful, you must be a certain height, have a certain bust size, and be thin. I find this shameful. Our daughters, and even ourselves, should not feel that kind of pressure. Makeup, hair dye, cosmetic surgeries, eating disorders…..personally I think all of those are far too common.
But….that being said, I have a beef with society’s response to that push. There is a vast movement of people (rightly) attempting to counteract the stereotypes and negativity. Their campaigns run something like this, “Real women have curves.” “Real women aren’t a size 0.”
My beef is two-fold.
First off is the use of “real women.” In their attempt to not shame the average woman, they instead are shaming the real women who are thin. There are real women who have skinny waists. There are real women who have fast metabolisms. There are real women who have small busts but their curves are no less gorgeous or sexy.
To use the term “real women” implies that the women who fit those labels are fake women. False women. I have seen so many blog posts or comments on social media in response to these fake women. Accusations galore of eating disorders or photoshop or plastic surgeries. Don’t get me wrong…eating disorders are a very serious reality for many people. I do not at all mean to downplay that. And I do recognize that a lot of these “perfect women” in the news are photoshopped or have had surgeries to achieve their “perfect bodies.” But not all.
I have been ruminating on all of this for years. I have always been thin. I have been accused of having an eating disorder. I have memories that are both awkward and painful because of what people have said (either directly to me or what people have said online to “my kind”). I have had to overcome a lot of things in my personal life to accept that I am a real woman. I have had to overcome a lot of feelings of shame about myself. Some of it I am still working on.
God creates real women of all shapes and sizes. So my first beef with society is that they limit real women to anyone greater than a size 6.
And now for my second beef with society. And here I tread lightly, knowing this could be taken the wrong way. Please know that I am not trying to be offensive.
I find it concerning that we have this big ban on saying anything about (whispers) overweight people. I understand that bullying is a real and, unfortunately, not uncommon problem. I understand that society is trying to correct the horrible trend of bullying. But the answer is not to swing the opposite direction and jump on anyone who says anything about anyone being overweight.
There are some celebrities today that are plus size. They receive a lot of accolades for accepting themselves the way they are and being a role model for the younger generations. In some ways I totally agree. I do not think that anyone should try to change themselves just to fit in with society. It is hard to be different from the so-called perfect body size. So I do applaud these celebrities.
But my question is this. Is that really the kind of role model we want? Do we really want to just unconditionally accept others or ourselves as overweight?
Again, in a way, yes. Yes, we want our daughters to see people who are not bending to what culture says is hot. We want role models who are women who aren’t afraid to embrace their talents because they aren’t what culture says is beautiful.
But, and again I tread lightly here…..being overweight is a problem. Being overweight can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, sleep apnea, liver and kidney disease, and pregnancy problems.
It’s ironic that in our culture it’s ok to call a thin woman anorexic (because they aren’t real women, remember?) but if someone is overweight or even dangerously close…the polite thing to do is say nothing.
To be fair, I know that there are many things other than over-eating that can cause a person to be overweight. Sometimes medications for other health problems can cause someone to gain weight. Some people just have big bone structure. So I definitely would not want to narrow the discussion down to just diet.
But at the same time….to be honest, the polite thing to do is not to just keep silent. Being overweight can have serious consequences. So can being underweight. Being underweight, having anorexia, over-eating and obesity all can be life threatening. Why are we so worried about offending people that we would rather watch them slowly fade away or die of a heart attack than to just lovingly communicate?
I am not advocating that we just approach people and confront them about their weight. That would be rude and highly offensive.
My suggestion is that rather than society talking about “real women” or what not….we should be talking about health. The goal for every person should be health, not a specific number on the scale. What is healthy for one woman may not be healthy for another woman. Being underweight is not healthy. Being overweight is not healthy. What I think that all women (and men. and kids.) should be working toward is overall health. Eating healthy. Exercising. Following good sleep patterns.
This post hits the nail on the head. The goal is not to be skinny. The goal is not to be large. The goal is to be healthy.