‘Plus Size’ Celebs and the Obsession with Labeling Body Types

(Image Credit: Bravo Media, LLC)

(Image Credit: Bravo Media, LLC)

Everywhere we turn, women’s bodies are being judged. Everyone is either “too skinny” or “obese,” and figures on both ends of the spectrum are “unhealthy.” This judgmental behavior has become so popular that people seem to feel the need to put a label on all shapes and sizes.

Earlier this year, Glamour magazine put out a special issue in conjunction with Lane Bryant focusing on plus-size women. The beautiful Ashley Graham graced the cover, and women such as Melissa McCarthy, Adele, and Amy Schumer were featured.

As a woman who fluctuates from sizes 6 to 8, Amy wasn’t pleased that she was featured in this particular issue. She shared a post on her Instagram page letting her fans know that she doesn’t want “[y]oung girls seeing [her] body type and thinking that [it] is plus-size.” Because if a size 6 is overweight, then what is acceptable?

Friend to the comedian, Jennifer Lawrence, spoke out in light of the controversy in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar. She said that she doesn’t like that people consider her body type to be normal; she puts way too much work into her body for it to be normal, but we’re so accustomed to seeing underweight women that we think it’s the norm. This, in turn, makes us think of a normal body type as being a curvy but thin one.

Why are we so focused on judging other women? Social media makes it far too easy to do this publicly (and anonymously). If you go to any woman’s Instagram page with a large number of followers, you’re bound to see negative comments strewn about regarding her weight.

When did this become acceptable?

Another famous actress who has made it clear that she doesn’t want the focus to be on the size or shape of her body (ironically also featured in the Glamour plus-size issue) is Christina Hendricks. In an interview with the Sun-Herald, Christina’s “full-figured” body is referenced not once, but twice, and she is clearly displeased by the comment both times. Why would any highly-regarded actress want to be interviewed not about her incredible talents or current roles, but instead about her figure? Why does size matter to us so much?

In this era of body scrutiny, the lingerie company Aerie has tried to make a stand. They’ve stopped using standard “models” for their ads, and instead opt to use “real” girls. This means there are sizes being featured above a 4, stretch marks make appearances, and no airbrushing is done.

Until the real normal becomes the media’s definition of normal, it doesn’t seem girls will accept each other’s bodies or their own as being beautiful. We need to stop acting like the Kardashian waist-to-butt ratio is attainable (or like it’s anything that anyone should aim for) and start encouraging each other’s healthy, natural figures. More companies and influential media outlets need to stop allowing women to be placed into “skinny” and “fat” classifications and encourage all women to be proud of how they look, regardless of their weight.

Advertisements
Thigh Gap (Image Credit: Rui Santos)

The Unhealthy Quest for a Thigh Gap

Thigh Gap (Image Credit: Rui Santos)

Thigh Gap (Image Credit: Rui Santos)

It’s becoming more and more apparent that “the gap” is the root of all evil in the beauty industry. Not the clothing store Gap (although some may actually feel that way), but rather, the absolutely insane new obsession with having a “thigh gap”. For those unfamiliar, a “thigh gap” refers to exactly what it sounds like, a gap or space between your inner thighs.

Back in my day (I’m 21), girls got braces to fix gapped teeth and cursed their bowlegged thighs because they walked like an old school western cowboy.  Fast-forward to the present, and these same girls want to surgically separate their teeth and have rail-thin legs all for the sake of a gap.

Victoria's Secret Models (Image Credit: Victoria's Secret)

Victoria’s Secret Models (Image Credit: Victoria’s Secret)

Excuse me, but when did this become acceptable?  And why is it even a thing? When is the last time you heard someone say, “Yeah man, I love a girl with a nice ‘thigh gap’.”? The whole idea seems totally irrelevant to what makes someone attractive or not.

The most celebrated women in the world don’t even come close to having a space between their legs (think: Beyoncè, Christina Hendricks, Sofia Vergara), and it doesn’t stop anyone from calling them “beautiful”.  To those who have a natural “thigh gap”, that’s fantastic.  If you are like most of the female population that experiences the occasional thigh chaffing, who cares?  You’ll work a space into your thighs only to find that next season’s trend will be something equally ridiculous like “thigh friction”. You’ll be screwed then, huh?

The feminist in me wants to try and relate the “thigh gap” to the idea of a woman having her “legs open”, but it’s fairly apparent that this isn’t the case.  Instead, the “thigh gap” seems to be a satanic child of designers like Victoria’s Secret and Chanel who limit their runway models to women with a space down the center of their bodies…from their teeth to their thighs.

Beyonce (Image Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Gucci)

Beyonce (Image Credit: Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Gucci)

Maybe you’re thinking that guys have similar predicaments, what with the ideal of a “six-pack” and all that.  The difference here is that for a man to be in shape (by society’s standards), they need to be healthy.  “Six pack abs” don’t magically appear unless Photoshop is involved. They are actually a reward for having proper nutrition and exercise ethic.  Women, on the other hand, are pressured to have ridiculous features like “thigh gaps” which usually come with physical malnourishment and mental stress.  Just like there are tons of men who aren’t meant to have a six pack, there are millions of women who were not put on this earth to have a “thigh gap”. Add in the fact that a good majority of women, no matter how much they diet or work out, are physically incapable of having a “thigh gap” due to their anatomical structure and the ideal becomes even more ludicrous.

It’s a relief knowing that the “thigh gap” obsession will likely pass, along with the Sir Mix A lot-induced booty infatuation and the Pamela Anderson-esque breast fixation.  We know by now that when the fashion industry, or pop culture in general, focus on one part of the female anatomy… it’s likely to explode into an international plague of copycatting.  I suggest rubbing your thighs together loud and proud, because in reality…no one cares about a stupid space between your legs unless it’s a guy or girl trying to get in it and even then, if they’re not happy with what you’ve got, screw them (not literally, kick them to curb and find someone who appreciates your beauty).

Originally posted August 29, 2013.

Is Amy Schumer’s nude photo brave? We say YES!

(Image Credit: Pirelli)

(Image Credit: Pirelli)

By now, we’ve all seen the photo of Amy Schumer that will appear in next year’s Pirelli calendar. Apparently, my initial reaction to it was far mellower than the the rest of the world’s. I wasn’t overcome by shock, extreme joy, anger or disgust. I didn’t feel the earth move beneath my feet in a quake of feminist pride. Instead I felt a simple “good for you, Amy.”

Would I have given her a fist bump if we were on fist bump status? Yes. The funny girl’s doing her thang and GNF about it; I can respect that. And I can respect her choice to strip down, because why not? Hell, I can even respect that random cup of coffee she’s choosing to drink in nothing but heels and panties because, let’s face it, we all like to feel like a badass bitch sometimes who will do whatever she wants, even if that means just wearing a killer pair of heels and skimpy underwear while drinking a chai latte. What I can’t respect is the the ridiculous backlash she is receiving, and how the use of the word “brave” to describe the photo has backfired in the worst way possible.

A lot of people were delighted when they saw Schumer’s photo, along with its witty caption of “Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman.” The adjectives Schumer threw out there were a list of words that could easily be hurled at the photograph, based on whoever was looking at it. Some people might be fans, some might be critics, some might be neutral, but all would have something to say. Instead of waiting for it, she presented it, realizing that everyone has their own views and opinions. Lo and behold, the public had a lot to say about it, and just as Schumer’s caption predicted, there was no general consensus.

As a woman who from time to time struggles with my own body image, I saw Schumer’s photo and was happy. Sweet, I thought, here’s a woman who more what the general population can relate to. She’s not a size zero model, she doesn’t have Kim Kardashian’s ass, and she likes Chipotle and beer just as much as the rest of us. She’s a busy woman, like many women are, whose main priority is not the gym, but the other hundreds of things she still doesn’t really have the time to do. She was owning who she was, and most importantly, she wasn’t ashamed of who she was or what “flaws” she might have as decided by the world of Hollywood and fashion magazines. Some people even ventured to call what she did “brave.”

The word brave, like most words, has several connotations. Here are two of them.

  1. ADJECTIVE

ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage:“a brave soldier”

  1. VERB

to endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear

The first definition describes a person. The second describes what a person does. People who are brave often do show courage, and in more extreme cases, they willingly face and endure danger or pain. People who brave something do things that they know may result in unpleasant consequences, but they forge forward anyway to take a stance or to prove a point.

Upon hearing that people thought Amy Schumer was “brave” for her actions, haters jumped all over the topic. The adjective brave should be reserved for only certain types of people: soldiers, police officers, firefighters, cancer fighters – just to name a few. And I agree- this is a word that we shouldn’t use lightly. You don’t apply it to every little thing. You don’t want to generalize its meaning. But do we not also use this word as a form of encouragement? When young kids are afraid to be themselves, do we not tell them to be brave? When our friends embark on a new journey, is brave an inappropriate way to label their actions? Did Sara Barielles not write a smash hit that implores all of us to do brave things in our everyday lives?

Amy Schumer posing nearly naked for a magazine is not the bravest thing anyone has ever done by a long shot. What’s brave is that she was willing to brave the onslaught of criticism and nasty remarks that were to come her way. What’s brave is the giant middle, finger she’s giving to any man or woman that tries to tell her that her body is not the ideal type. While the topic was trending on Facebook, one popular Facebook personality took it upon himself to comment on the photo, saying there was nothing brave about posting a disgusting photo of yourself. He went on  to call Schumer fat, ugly, and lazy, comparing her to women who “take care of themselves.” He completely demeaned the woman, acting like no person on Earth could ever find her physically attractive. THIS is why Amy is brave, you POS – for posting a photo that would receive such confidence-shattering slander as the garbage you posted. What makes her BRAVE is for not letting the millions of comments like yours break her.

Schumer was not posing for this picture so others would call her the sexiest woman on the planet, she posed for the picture to show that it’s ok to consider yourself a beautiful and strong woman who doesn’t need the confirmation of others to make herself feel so. Women as a whole need to stop analyzing what everyone and their mother thinks – anyone who has the time to try to bring you down is clearly lacking something in their own life. It’s been shouted at us for years that everyone comes in different shapes and sizes, and we can preach the idea as much as we want. We can go on to tell others that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or we can start to live it and stop passing off judgement on others.

You are brave Amy, just like a million other people who have gone out on a limb to prove a point. Thanks for showing us what it is to be a self-assured and confident woman who doesn’t need the approval of anyone else to tell her that she rocks.

Essena O’Neill: Social Media is Not Real

Essena O’Neill: Social Media is Not RealRecently the internet has been blowing up about Essena O’Neill quitting social media. She deleted her very popular Tumblr page and edited many of the captions of her pictures on Instagram.

For example, in this picture on Instagram, the model wrote about being paid to promote a tanning product and how appearance on social media is deceiving and should not be something to strive for.

She also posted a 12 minute video on Vimeo explaining why she decided to quit social media. She says that followers and likes cause insecurity and leads to never being satisfied with yourself.

There have been two sides responding to O’Neill’s message this week. Some applaud her and support her advocating for people to stop viewing social media as if it’s realistic because a lot of work and effort goes into those pictures and often they are the opposite of natural. On the other hand, critics of the model have been slamming her, as they believe this whole ordeal involving the model is just a publicity stunt in order to gain more popularity. Whether they are right about O’Neill’s intentions or not is unclear, but the model has definitely gained more followers on her Instagram and YouTube account.

However, if young and impressionable girls and boys see O’Neill’s message and realize that their worth is not measured by their appearance, followers, or likes on social media, then her anti-social media campaign will have accomplished a step in the right direction.

Beauty Comes in Any Color

Models Jason Dean and Dakota Snow (Image Credit: Michael Housewright)

Models Jason Dean and Dakota Snow (Image Credit: Michael Housewright)

Every day, the world we live in is increasingly diverse. The people that surround and interact with us now come in countless shapes and colors. You would think our definition of what’s beautiful would naturally evolve and diversify accordingly, but, on the contrary, we are still bound by uncompromising expectations of what beauty ought to look like. We can’t seem to shake this pressure to alter our natural skin color, among other things, to be “more beautiful.” Continue reading

Pressure (Image Credit: Kevin Dooley)

A Petition for Plus-Sized Disney Princesses Calls for Change

Pressure (Image Credit: Kevin Dooley)

Pressure (Image Credit: Kevin Dooley)

Mirror, mirror on the wall? Who is the fairest of them all?

Disney has long been criticized on modeling its princesses after an all too idealistic “perfect princess” archetype with big eyes, a ridiculous waist-hip ratio and hair that obviously has never seen split ends. Is it time for a makeover? What about a plus-size princess? High school junior, Jewel Moore, is calling Disney out for a change. Continue reading

Aerie Real Campaign (Image Credit: American Eagle)

How ‘real’ is Aerie’s ‘real’ model campaign?

Aerie Real Campaign (Image Credit: American Eagle)

Aerie Real Campaign (Image Credit: American Eagle)

A twelve-paneled LED billboard featuring young girls with fat rolls, stretch marks, and scars in the middle of Times Square? That’s what you could be looking at pretty soon because American Eagle has just launched its Aerie ‘real’ model campaign in an effort to challenge unrealistic supermodel standards for young women. “What you see is what you get,” declared Aerie brand representative, Jenny Altman, on Good Morning America.

But while I commend AE’s efforts to take a step in the right direction, let’s be honest, is this really ‘real’? Looking at the girls featured on Aerie, it seems to me and many other women that they’re all still identically slim, toned and identically just as gorgeous. Continue reading

Get your ‘bikini body’ for the beach!

Beach (Image Credit: Flickr User |vvaldzen|)

Beach (Image Credit: Flickr User |vvaldzen|)

How many times do we see this phrase splashed across magazines and captioning “inspiration” photos online? In the months leading up to the summer the media and the internet become obsessed with the idea of being “bikini ready;” and along come mountains of articles about getting into shape for the summer, the perfect workouts to look good in a swimsuit, diet plans, fashion tips for hiding your “problem areas”… Essentially everything to make women (and men!) feel bad about themselves and their bodies. Every day we are constantly being bombarded with images of the ideal body type, and the society we live in has become fixated with our appearances. This stream of images is possibly at its worst at this time of the year. Inspiration and motivation are positive tools if used well, but the idea of a bikini body definitely gets taken too far and becomes an unhealthy preoccupation. Continue reading

Love Your Body Day Celebrates 15 Years of Self-Acceptance

Image Credit: Wade M

Today, Oct. 17, women across the country will be pointing out everything that makes their bodies unique. Hosted by the National Organization for Women, Love Your Body Day will be celebrating its 15th year of promoting positive body image among women. The day was created to encourage women and girls to express their opinions to the media on the portrayal of the ideal physique and to demand that a more realistic and accepting image be promoted. Continue reading