*First off, I would like to say that I am not writing this article to “fat shame” or put down anyone. I believe ALL human beings are beautiful and beauty isn’t confined to a particular look. The aim of this article is to give a friend or relative’s perspective on a scenario. It is merely written to seek advice, not support a specific position. Hence, why I included perspectives from both sides. Hope you enjoy and if you can relate, please give your thoughts.*
Recently, the idea of embracing your physical features has been promoted more than ever. The Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign, the emergence of a plus sized model on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and the growth of fashionable plus sized clothing stores like Torrid are all prime examples. I personally agree with the idea of loving yourself and having a sense of self worth. Having confidence in yourself or a sense of self worth helps tackle the issue of depression and can prevent a variety of other major issues concerning mental health. However, there are possible downsides that some refuse to consider concerning elements of health that are in your control.
The first point point of possible detriment is the formation of an identity. Many people begin to love themselves and the way they look to a point where it becomes a part of who they are. For example, the plus sized model (let’s say 210 pounds) has an identity and her career based on her niche in the plus sized fashion community. As a result of gaining fame and forming an identity based on physical features, she may make the conscious decision to maintain that image. At the time, she may not be experiencing health issues, but would it be different if she was 100 pounds heavier and formed her identity around that?
Another issue is the promotion of a particular look in mainstream media. I totally agree with the concept of fair representation. And in fact, the physical features of models displayed on television do not coincide with the looks of the average American. Since we are using women as an example, the average weight for a woman over the age of 20 in America is 166 pounds. I’m pretty sure that’s a bit heavier than the typical woman you’d see on the average American ad or runway.
Despite agreeing with fair representation, I do believe that we should look out for the interests of the public. Therefore, it’s difficult to wrap my head around the mass promotion of a look that is typically associated with or can potentially lead to future health problems. There are also health issues associated with exerting too much effort into maintaining a certain image. It’s a toss up of whether I should promote the idea of loving yourself or a look that’s healthy.
I’m sure many people are either in this situation or knows someone who is/ has been in this scenario.This is not meant to objectify or speak from a woman’s perspective. This is merely an example, and the rhetoric could be equally as applicable to men. So, where do we draw the line? At what point does practicality trump mental health? Is it possible to promote both sides? Lastly, how do we continue from the current point or implement your position? I’d like to hear your thoughts.