When I look at my body in the mirror, I’m not 100 percent pleased. I don’t know many women my age who are…or any age, for that matter.
I grab my love-handles, frown at my thighs and pray for a bustier chest. I allow myself only a few moments of self-deprecation before remembering that I want to be a speech pathologist, not a Victoria’s Secret model.
When I look in magazines and see 6-foot-5-inch stick-thin models with huge boobs and plump lips, of course I wonder what it would be like to look that way. I imagine if I’d have more opportunities, if I’d have a boyfriend or if I’d be more well-liked. But I only wonder that temporarily — I don’t endlessly pine over it.
I know I’ll never look like those models as long as I live. I’m 5’4’’ with a round, Irish pumpkin head, and I have the hips of Shakira — if Shakira also had a diet that was 80 percent cheese. I’ll never magically reach 6 feet or suddenly look like a mannequin. I’m OK with that because although I have to do a little dance to get into my jeans every morning, I don’t hate my body. In fact, there are parts of it that I love and am very proud of.
But I am not all girls.
Some girls see models in magazines or on TV, and they do endlessly pine. They begin to believe they’re too big, too small or not enough. The media often portrays models who don’t accurately express the average female body type.
Time and time again, impressionable young girls are fed the idea that only skinny is considered pretty. They’re left to sit with this idea throughout their teenage years and it can certainly take a toll. It’s hard enough to compare ourselves to our beautiful peers, but being bombarded with size 00 models doesn’t help either.
Recently, England pulled a Gucci campaign ad that featured absurdly thin models. There has been some controversy over whether or not they made the right choice. I believe they did.
It’s about time the modeling industry starts using more realistic-looking models. They rarely give chances to heavier individuals. Plus-size has now become a size 8. Yes, that’s right, a size 8. So if there’s a model with wider hips and a voluptuous derriere, sorry! You can’t work with the modeling industry, no matter how insanely beautiful your curves may be.
When I saw the recent Sport’s Illustrated Swimsuit issue with size 16 model Ashley Graham, I viewed it as a victory for women. In my eyes, Ashley Graham is a radiant beauty with a healthy and amazing body.
If more girls are able to point to pictures of models and say, “Hey, I look like that!” then the confidence of young girls and women everywhere stands a fighting chance.
The point is not to ban thin models. The point is to mix in other body types. Beauty exists in all forms and is not just in the eye of a single beholder called the modeling industry.
Eating disorders are a very real and present problem. Revamping the industry and changing the way we portray “acceptable” body types isn’t a complete solution, but it’s certainly a giant leap in the right direction.
Email Courtney Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org