It goes without saying that people come in all different shapes and sizes. It’s this simple reality that makes it incredibly difficult to accept the fact that society and the media are still acting like that’s a bad thing—something to look down on and ridicule.
We live in a day and age in which the fashion industry and media as a whole portray plus-size as the be-all and end-all of a happy life. It’s as if the media truly believes and wants to make society believe that just because you’re not a size two with Barbie doll proportions, you’re inherently less happy—but even worse, less worthy.
It’s this f*cked up notion that leads to young girls dieting and adopting routines geared towards perfectionism and self-regulation in opposition of actually enjoying childhood—life. And how awful is that? What happened to the days of little girl’s throwing their hair in a pony and getting down and dirty on the soccer field? Or digging through dirt and wading through creeks in hopes of finding the perfect salamander? Okay, so maybe these were just activities that I loved as a kid, but you get the idea—what happened to immersing yourself in the moment without contemplation of the way you look, the way you’re being perceived, or how well you fit in?
You see, my issue with plus-size is that what once was actually a term that by definition meant overweight to an unhealthy degree, is now being molded to fit the changing perceptions of the media and what’s societally acceptable in terms of the appearance of a body. What once was used as a term to gauge actual health problems is now used as a term to put down beauties like Amy Schumer who fits snugly in a size six or eight. You see how that’s an issue, right?
Growing up, I’ve seen body standards for women go from being slim-framed and waiflike in the nineties; to being super fit in the 2000s with toned tummies and lean legs with just the right amount of definition; to the 2010s being all about that butt while maintaining teensy waists and overflowing cup sizes. All this means is that, like everything, media standards in relation to what a woman’s body (and, yes, a man’s too) is supposed to look like is nothing more than a trend. What’s not a trend, but rather an established notion is that if you do not fit the era’s body trend, there’s a good chance you’ll be deemed plus-size. And I’m so, so over this. Pretty sure you are too. Am I right?
Anyways, one of my biggest weaknesses is that I’m a bit of a perfectionist. And, okay, that can be a good thing sometimes; but more often than not—especially in terms of achieving bodily standards or at least trying my hardest to, I push myself too far for something that may simply be out of reach for my body type. Don’t get me wrong, I can lift and run and sweat and count my macros like no other and I will most definitely see a noticeable difference and feel as though if I really dedicate myself then I will fit nicely within, or at least very close to, the media’s ideal standard. But jesus, the effort that takes. The times I’ve landed in my physician’s office, or even worse–the hospital, for overdoing (and under-eating) it all while striving for what the media has deemed to be perfection. So again, you see how that’s an issue right? The fact that the media’s use of the term plus-size and portrayal of what a body should look like are so strong that they have the ability to make society feel as though they must fit the mold or be deemed less than.
Well, I was reading an article about this very subject the other week by Melinda Parrish for the Huffington Post and I honestly don’t think I could say it better if I tried:
“I’m not a licensed trainer or nutritionist, but I do know this: the only approach that has actually allowed me to achieve a greater level of love, acceptance and freedom with my body has been to abandon any attempts to change it, and instead embrace it exactly as it is. Rather than obsess over transforming my body, I work on transforming how I feel about my body. And instead of making the gym a place that I punish, abuse and mutilate my body, it’s a place that I go to show my body love.
Perfection is a myth that keeps us shackled to fear, shame and self-loathing. You have it in your power to tear off those shackles and just start loving your body instead!”