I’ve been thinking a lot about how society impacts womanhood. What is perfection? How does the mass media impact the way women view themselves? Why does the standard definition of “beauty” oftentimes set and unrealistic and unhealthy expectations that very few can achieve? How does being beautiful impact a woman’s perceived worth?
Fact: 80% of children who are 10 years old are afraid of being fat.
And why not? Growing up, girls are taught that Barbie is the definition of a perfect woman in every respect. She has the perfect body, a wardrobe fit for a queen, accessories galore, a pink Corvette, and let’s not forget —the undying attention of Ken. This doll represents a young girl’s first idea of what a woman is outside of her mother. But unlike our mothers, where we can see their imperfections, Barbie seems to have it made. She is our first role model.
Fact: Barbie’s physique is not only unrealistic, but grossly unhealthy.
Most women don’t have a ton of self-confidence. After all, the first true woman we want to grow up and be is disproportional to a fault, and we accept that. We let our daughters play with Barbie and imagine they are her. Barbie is a supermodel: tall, slim, teeny waist, big breasts, and tiny pointed feet. This image translates to our childhood and teen role models: Supermodels who often do unhealthy things to their body to get and stay slim. Yes, some may be born with a naturally slim frame, and that’s great! But we, as women, often idolize things that aren’t meant to be idolized.
Case and point: Barbie is reportedly 5’9″ tall and weigh 110 pounds. Not only is Barbie about 35 pounds below a healthy weight for a woman of that height, but her body mass index would approach the “severly underweight” range. According to the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, for an average, healthy woman to have the proportions of Barbie, she would have to grow two feet taller, extend their neck length by 3.2 inches, gain 5 inches in chest size, and lose 6 inches in waist circumference.
Fact: Total annual revenue of the weight loss industry, $55,400,000,000 (55.4 BILLION).
Look at all of those zeroes. What would happen to the weight loss and beauty industry if women believed they were beautiful, if we weren’t always chasing a fountain of youth? Women are made to believe we are “less than” because companies need to sell a product. Don’t want to be fat? Try this slimming belt! Why not take these pills? Drink this shake, Buy, Buy, Buy!
In real life, models on magazines aren’t perfect. They’re Photoshopped. Their breasts are enhanced. Models legs are slimmed. Womens’ hips are minimized and waists are pinched in. They’re flawless. Isn’t this what we want? If not, why do we keep buying into it? We buy the dress that the model is wearing and when it doesn’t look as fabulous on us as it did on her, we assume it’s because there’s something wrong with us. The system is designed to sell products and keep us feeling like we need to chase “perfection”. Period.
We’ve come a long way, but we certainly have a long way to go. Listen, there is NO wrong way to have a body. You are beautiful and fierce the way you are.
Photo by the fabulous Lindy Drew of Humans of St. Louis.