Yesterday in response to my post about being disappointed with Lane Bryant for using models whose size precludes them from actually wearing Lane Bryant clothes, I received several replies saying that Lane Bryant has run tests and plus-sized women bought more clothes when they were advertised on a “straight sized” model than on an actual plus-sized model. What with the who now?
So I did some quick (very quick, I left the house at 8am and just got home an hour ago) research. According to a controversial study from Arizona State University:
“We found that overweight consumers demonstrated lower self-esteem – and therefore probably less enthusiasm about buying products – after exposure to any size models in ads (versus ads with no models). Also, normal-weight consumers experienced lower self-esteem after exposure to moderately heavy models, such as those in Dove soap’s ‘Real Women’ campaign, than after exposure to moderately thin models.”
Here’s my question: Do you think it just might, maybe, possibly be because we have been so aggressively sold the idea that there is only one body type that is beautiful that we’ve started to believe it, and so as a culture when we see someone outside of the single image of beauty that we are sold 99.999999999% of the time we experience a conditioned response and immediately think “That’s a bad body. That body is wrong. My body is like that. My body is wrong.”?
Instead of looking at this study, asking the question that I asked, and pondering their culpability in the situation, what I see the media and advertisers doing is hiding behind the study and continuing to perpetuate their singular idea of beauty on the grounds that we like it better, which continues to reinforce that any body outside of that ideal is somehow unworthy of being seen, which means that we like the “ideal” more, and like our own bodies less. Especially in a world where we almost never see an image that has not been so “retouched” that it is a completely impossible standard of beauty. Does this seem like a good idea to you? I think it’s pretty much crap.
I find bodies of all shapes and sizes beautiful – I always have. I guess if I’m truthful I’ve always been more interested in the present than that box it comes in, but I’ve been purely physically attracted to all shapes and sizes of bodies. I feel very lucky in that respect – even when I couldn’t find appreciation for my own body – I could always find it for the bodies of others. And I think that if we truly want a body revolution, then we’re going to have to get it done ourselves.
My first suggestion:
Seek out pictures of bodies of all sizes, look at them every day. Find things about them that you like. Start to really look around you at the diversity of bodies that exist. Realize that every single body is doing amazing things – the owner of the body isn’t even thinking about it, yet in every one of those bodies a heart is beating, lungs are breathing, eyes are blinking. Millions of processes are going on every second in every body. They are amazing machines at every single shape and size.
Decide, right now, that you are above putting down other bodies to make you feel better about yours (even if you only think it), or for any other reason. Start to notice any time you think anything negative about anyone’s body and stop yourself and replace it with a positive thought. Refuse to participate in body snarking with other people. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Find ways to love your own body. If you want some help check out Love Your Body More in Three Simple Steps
I promise you that your body is an amazing beautiful body that is absolutely worthy to be looked upon and adored, even if you don’t quite know it yet.
Want some places to start looking at beautiful bodies? Check these out for a start:
Athletes at Every Size Flickr Pool (You may notice some familiar pictures from a certain fat dancing blogger…)
VoluptuArt has amazing pieces to look at and buy. I have done both and I love the stuff. (Nope, they don’t give me anything to say that, they most likely have no idea who I am)
This post (check the comments for lots of amazing pictures of fat people doing awesome stuff from belly dancing to hammer throwing).
The Adipositivity Project (NSFW, and the only situation in which I think a headless fatty is ok)
Works of Peter Paul Rubens (NSFW)
Corvetta Curves (NSFW)
The post of my most recent dance photoshoot can be found here
As always, if you know of others please add them in the comments.
Bodies are all around you, just waiting to be appreciated. Get going!!!!