I have to keep it real here. My body image today? Not peachy keen. I don’t know if it’s because I’m at the end of my work week, or the fact that I saw those barftacular Christmas Victoria’s Secret Ads today or whatever, but I’m admittedly having some trouble feelin’ the tummy love today. I fear that today I’ve let the way my stomach looks override the way I’ve taken care of myself over the past few days, and that’s unfortunate. That’s a way of thinking I don’t want to slip into. Focusing on outside validation (whether my stomach is washboard or flabby) is a mini-death to my spirituality.
And isn’t negative body image so stupid, in a sense? For instance, someone thinks they’ve gained 10 lbs in a day. Probably not possible. I’m sure a lot of what we perceive about our bodies is just simply made up.
I am going to try to reset myself tomorrow, but in the meantime, I turn to Botticelli and Victorian women for inspiration.
What do I mean, you ask?
Society’s standard of what is beautiful has changed over time, and this fluctuation tells me NONE OF IT IS REAL. None of it. The crunches we force ourselves to do to appear just like that celebrity we admire? A construct of the mind. The boob job some chick got? A construct of the mind. Boobs are for feeding, people. What is physically beautiful is made up and means nothing, in my humble opinion. Health, on the other hand, means everything. Check out the fluctuation throughout the years, per thesite.org:
1800s to present day
During the Victorian era, the ideal body type for women was plump, fleshy, and full-figured. They wore restrictive corsets, which made waists artificially tiny while accentuating the hips and buttocks. These corsets also caused a variety of health problems with breathing and digestion.
At the start of the 1900s, slenderness became more fashionable. There was an increasing interest of women in athletics and physicians began to see body weight as a ‘science’ of calorie counting, ‘ideal weights’, and weigh-ins. At this time the physically perfect woman was 5’4″ tall and weighed 10 stone.
By the 1920s, the Victorian hourglass gave way to the thin flapper who bound her breasts to achieve a washboard profile. After World War I, active lifestyles added another dimension. Energy and vitality became central and body fat was perceived to contribute to inefficiency and was seen as a sign of self-indulgence. By the 1950s, a thin woman with a large bust line was considered most attractive. The voluptuous (size 16) Marilyn Monroe set a new standard for women who now needed to rebuild the curves they had previously tried to bind and restrain.
By the 1960s, slenderness became the most important indicator of physical attractiveness following the arrival of model Twiggy. She weighed in at a shapeless six and a half stones, and had the figure of a prepubescent boy.
Despite an American public with increasing body weights, Playboy magazine increased the promotion of slimness between 1959 and 1978. ‘Miss America’ contestants were also found to be thinner over time, and winners of the pageant after 1970 consistently weighed less than the other contestants. In 1975 top models and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average women. Today they weigh 23% less, a size achievable by less than 5% of today’s female population.
Between 1970 and 1990, there was an overall increased emphasis on weight loss and body shape in the content of a popular women’s magazine, as well as a shift to using thinner less curvaceous models in their photo shoots. The 1980s beauty ideal remained slim but required a more toned and fit look. Women could no longer just ‘diet’ into the correct size; there was a new pressure to add exercise to achieve the toned look.
The 1990s body ideal was very slim and large breasted, think Pamela ‘Baywatch’ Anderson, an almost impossible combination for most western women.
Today in our modern Western society, ‘thin is in’ and artificial means such as liposuction are often used to lessen the appearance of hips, buttocks and fat in general. Many celebrities have made being ultra thin trendy; and we’re not talking about women who are naturally skinny, but ones who’s weight has plummeted as their fame rises.
But at the same time, the curvier figure appears to be fighting back and with Trinny and Susannah fighting the cause for loving your body whatever size, the trend may well reverse as we see big as beautiful once again.