Remember when being heavy was a status symbol? When a plump body was a sign of excess, found only in the rich and well-to-do?
No, of course you don’t and neither do I. The days in human history that required constant hunting, gathering, and harvesting for survival — an existence that rendered most slender as much from the pursuit of sustenance, as its scarcity — are past and we now live in a country where food is as available as it is cheap.
More importantly, we have created a system where the cheapest food is also the most unhealthy, and in a world where cheap food fattens you up more readily than expensive food, being thin is a status symbol. It shows that you have enough cash to pay top dollar for your meals. A slender figure is as much a display of wealth as driving a fancy car or carrying a designer bag.
Being on the heavier side has come to be regarded as too easy, too attainable, while the opposite suggests discipline and self-control.
Body images and their associated desirabilities have changed over time, but their connection to wealth and status remains static. And it is because of this simple truth, that I am not surprised that the current sought after body type is dangerously and unattainably thin.
There is a growing divide, no, a bottomless and expansive canyon, between the haves and the have-nots in this country. The gap between middle class Americans and society’s elite is larger than it has been in decades. Is it any wonder that the disparity between the average-sized person and the ideal image of beauty would mirror that?
In the January issue of Plus Model Magazine, plus-sized model Katya Zharkova is pictured alongside some shocking statistics that have managed to garner a lot of attention. These include the fact that the average fashion model weighs 23% less than the average woman as compared to 8% twenty years ago, that today’s plus-size models is a size 6 to 14 when a decade ago they were between sizes 12 and 18. And, most disturbing of all, that most runway models meet the Body Mass Index physical criteria for Anorexia.
Despite the fact that consumers continue to quietly grumble their dissatisfaction at being sold clothing modeled by women who look nothing like them, companies continue to market to them using an image that requires one to literally put their own health at risk to attain.
“You can never be too rich or too thin.” That is the very essence of every commercial, every fashion show, every magazine cover with an impossibly slim celebrity in designer clothing screaming at you from the aisle of the grocery store where you must inevitably pay more for food if you want to weigh less.
It’s about time we rejected that, don’t you think? It’s time we put our foot down. It’s time we said no to the these elite ideas of beauty and bring it all back to the middle, back to a place where feeling good about your body was something everyone could experience.
Self-esteem is not a luxury item. I reject the idea that I cannot be beautiful and sexy and desirable in my size 12 jeans and I implore you all to do the same.
Amber Doty is the managing editor of Go Mighty, as well as a slightly eccentric wife and mother of two. Her interests include eating meals she had no hand in preparing, making formerly professional business meetings awkward, and perfecting the emotional outburst. One day she hopes to travel to all seven continents, but for now she lives in North Carolina happily equidistant from the mountains and the beach. You can read more from Amber on her blog, The Daily Doty.
image courtesy Belovodchenko Anton