Say yes to a realistic, healthy society: how we should look at body image today

Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of glamour in the 1950s and 1960s, the most famous sex symbol of her age. Her famous curves were celebrated and fashionable and her ‘blonde bombshell’ look was a benchmark of beauty. Today, she would only grace the covers of magazines as a ‘plus size’ model at best, and even then, it would bring controversy. Ashley Graham, who featured on the cover of “Vogue” earlier last year in January, was at the receiving end of claims; that she was made to cover up slightly due to her ‘bigger curves’. Today, even though the fuller figure is slowly making its way back into society, due to the rise of plus size models such as Crystal Renn, featuring on catwalk performances such as New York fashion week – it is still on the line for criticism. In recent years, society has made the “fuller” figure out to be a sin. The only sin is irresponsible publishing and market forces, which have championed one body shape. Society has made minor changes to celebrate the fuller figure, however, it is not enough, and does not run consistent. Why is it deemed attractive to publish pictures of models with the bones sticking out of them? People looking up to idols such as Twiggy, during her iconic modelling days in the 1960s started this trend. To glamorize the idea that people should starve to look this way. This is not healthy.

“Size zero is just a designer label for an eating disorder.” – Dawn Porter.

“To all the women that think they’re fat because they’re not a size zero, you’re the beautiful one, its society that is ugly.” – unknown.

We see it everywhere: magazines, television, papers, advertising on the street. It feels like there is no escaping the army of skeletons. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of women out there, with thin figures, who can’t help it due to health problems or other related issues. It seems to me, the majority of women you see advertised everywhere, choose to be this way or feel pressured into it. In the era of the “thigh gap”. Apparently, having space between your legs is a new thing. Why someone would choose to resemble a walking stickman, is beyond me. I mean, we have all been there, sitting on the toilet and your phone almost drops down. Who saves it? Your wondrous thighs, let’s take a moment of silence for all the phones lost down the waves of the toilet seas… well, all the phones lost through the gap in people’s thighs, us thick women have saved fortunes, on not having to buy, or repair phones.

There have been some milestones in regards to accepting the “fuller” figure. For instance, we have seen the introduction of the “Lammily” doll. This is a doll which is an antidote to the stick thin “perfect” Barbie doll, a more realistic and fuller figured doll. Studies show that from a young age, children adopt a mindset according to the toys they play with. It is no wonder children have been growing up for so long, unhappy in their skin. For many who couldn’t achieve the looks of Barbie, life was a failure. The Lammily doll has provided a positive step in regards to the acceptation of the “fuller” figure in society. However, this is just one step of many. This needs to continue to happen, to make society a more realistic and body positive environment. I conducted a survey, amongst UK women in the local Glasgow area, that concluded that 80% of people feel pressures from the media to look a certain way, and most these people use tools; such as photoshop and filtering apps on their phones, to edit photos of themselves. Speaking to a friend, who wishes to stay anonymous, says she can’t even turn on her TV without being upset and feeling down about her size. She continued on, to say on the “rare occasion” she comes across a fuller figured model, however, most of the time it is an article to slander them.

Some modelling agencies now feature the odd plus sized model. An example of this is Crystal Renn, the first plus sized model to work with Chanel. Who had previously suffered with an eating disorder, eventually becoming a size zero model and now embraces her fuller figure and say’s she feels a lot healthier for it. She explained in an online interview, how she “didn’t want to go back to that mentality” of forcing herself to starve to maintain a figure the fashion industry and the media was so hungry for.

“We need to change people’s minds and show that you can be bigger and you can be beautiful just as you are. It’s about being and loving yourself.” – Crystal Renn.

It is great that there are more plus sized models, and that the media and fashion industry are finally reflecting the reality that more women have a “fuller” figures. However, the unhealthy body image is still too fresh and prevalent in today’s society. We are still constantly bombarded with photos of celebrities in their swimwear, getting fat shamed, because they put on a little bit of weight; the one time they indulged themselves. Celebrities such as Melissa McCarthy, has been on the receiving end of such negative media portrayal, due to her weight. She once confronted a critic who made harsh comments about her looks in a review of the film “Tammy”, which was directed by her husband Ben Falcone.

“My weight? It is what it is. You could get hit by a bus tomorrow. It’s about being content. And sometimes other priorities win.” – Melissa McCarthy.

These small changes are slowly making the fuller figure more accepted in society, but is it fully accepted? The answer is no. These changes are great, but they are not enough. There is still too much body shaming and unrealistic body representation in the media, and it needs to change. The media shouldn’t be allowed to celebrate “curves” one day, flaunt it in the media as a fashion statement and slam someone for having large hips the next. They shouldn’t be able to publish photos, of the positivity of the fuller figure, and then borderline anorexic models. In an era where majority of teenagers are using tools on their phones; to filter photos of themselves and photoshop things, they don’t need all these added pressures. My survey findings furthermore weren’t even surprising, it highlighted my point in its entirety: That the media do not celebrate or represent the fuller figure enough, UK women still feel the pressures. Nearly 90% of my survey responses said that the media does not celebrate the fuller figure, and more than half said the media has made none, or little progress in this issue.

“The fashion world is responding to the demand from consumers. The average size of the American women is a 14, with 100 million shoppers in the plus-size market.” – Carrie Adorna.

This all concludes, that yes, society has made some changes but it is just not good enough. There is still far too much negativity; in regards to women in the light of the media. We need to stand up, and put a stop to this now. Say no to the skeletons, say no to the unrealistic expectations- say yes to realism and the fuller figure.

“I think that whatever size or shape body you have, it’s important to embrace it and get down! The female body is something that’s so beautiful. I wish women would be proud of their bodies and not diss other women for being proud of theirs!” – Christina Aguilera

Tasha Hall

Tasha is originally from Fort William in the Highlands. She's now living in central Glasgow as a student journalist at Glasgow Clyde College, and the Creative Writing Editor for the Clyde Insider. Her ambitions are to gain a deep understanding of the journalism industry, and build a strong portfolio to go on to University. She enjoys writing a variety of things including poetry, beauty related articles and features. Criminal and investigative news pieces also interest her a lot, she is hoping the course will guide her to a more specific path within journalism. She has always had a deep passion for writing, which started in school studying English and the interest grew further. In her spare time, she enjoys going out, playing guitar and maintaining her online blog which focuses on poetry and beauty.

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