In the wake of feminism, we are witnessing attempts to incorporate larger women into a narrow view of what is beautiful. While magazines geared towards a male audience, such as MAXIM were celebrating curves, women’s magazines such as VOGUE were inclined towards the image of a slimmer woman. In reflection, I am not sure if we are trying to impress men or if we are participating in a competition in which women are trying to define beauty into our own harsh standards. It made me ask; why am I trying so hard to impress women?
In a time where we should be each other’s greatest allies we are segregated into two groups; those that feel that they fit societies image of an ideal body, and those that do not
While the media has been trying to be inclusive of various body types; the backlash, especially from women has been harsh. Meghan Trainor’s “All about that Bass,” an empowering message to larger women, was discredited with accusations of skinny shaming. This is reminiscent of the cry bully culture we live in where it is difficult for one group of people to receive an uplifting message without the other group taking offence.
A message that was meant to be inclusive segregated women into two different kinds of body types. Ironically, the other side in a similar situation received the same message. This was seen in the Protein World poster controversy in the London tube; it is difficult to see a picture of a skinny woman without taking offence to your own shape. In a time where we should be each other’s greatest allies we are segregated into two groups; those that feel that they fit societies image of an ideal body, and those that do not. It is unfortunate that appearance is ingrained in us to be so fundamentally important that we are prepared to degrade any body type that is not our own.
We are sacrificing the right message for a futile attempt at an empowering conversation. While women of all sizes should feel beautiful, this hollow back and forth that we are having is not the right way to approach the situation. While clothing companies are trying to be more inclusive by suspending the use of photoshop and replacing it with plus size models; well meant intentions are pushing a message that has been repeated for centuries; that a woman’s appearance is a defining part of her identity. Young girls are receiving a paradoxical message that we should find men who ‘like us for us’ and yet society is pushing an almost unobtainable ideal of what we should look like. I wonder if the better way to pursue self-confidence for women is to discredit the idea that appearance is significantly important rather than telling all women that they are beautiful in their own way. Appearance should be one of many qualities that make up our worth as a woman. Our sole societal responsibility as women is no longer bearing children; our wit, intelligence and personality are equally as important as our appearance, if not even more.
The media is spending an awful amount of time trying to be inclusive of all body types, but this is detracting from the original problem that made women insecure in the first place. Personally, I would love to see more advertisements inspiring women to join fields such as science rather than seeing ads for makeup. However, for now, that goal seems to be in the distant future. Until then, women should spend less time pursuing this insignificant argument of who is or is not beautiful. We should all be seeking to break boundaries and shatter these archaic ideals that a woman’s worth is tied to their appearance. Rather than finding self-worth from the media, other women and society, we should find it within our own accomplishments and aspirations.