Post image for You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Thin? Screw That.

You Can Never Be Too Rich or Too Thin? Screw That.

by Amber on January 30, 2012

in Self & Body

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

Liz January 30, 2012 at 9:39 am

I really don’t understand why the fashion industry doesn’t seem to care about this. Every time I read something about models or fashion shows or anything that has to do with body image, there is always a part about how unhealthy it is both mentally and physically to be like those models and about how they don’t represent women today. The fashion industry not addressing this problem, to me, says that they simply don’t care and I can’t understand that. Their customers are saying that they are not being represented by their models and their products and it seems irresponsible to not listen and make a positive change. Maybe we’re just not shouting loud enough.

Ashley January 30, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I think that despite what we’re saying, enough people must still be paying into the fashion industry’s status quo to keep them from changing anything.

When we stop buying the magazines and the clothing and the products that the industry produces, maybe they’ll stop. As it is, we say one thing but still give them our money. If we really want them to listen we have to be consistent with what we say and how we spend.

Liz January 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm

That’s a great point and I try a lot of the time to not buy those products, but I have a hard time when it comes to clothes. I have a hard enough time finding clothes that fit and look good on me but if I also took out the brands that promoted a bad image I feel like I would be left with nothing to wear.

Ashley January 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I imagine that will be the biggest hurdle for most of us.

Daisy January 30, 2012 at 9:47 am

Amen.

Jennifer January 30, 2012 at 10:28 am

But how do we go about rejecting that in a way that will actually communicate our rejection?

Does that make sense?

Brittany January 30, 2012 at 11:23 am

I want to reinvent the way people see normal, and I intend to elbow my way into mainstream fashion, come hell or high water!

Ashley January 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm

We stop financing the images.

What if we stopped buying fashion magazines, certain “beauty” products, and fashion brands that promote the unhealthy images in their sizing and ads? I don’t think it will matter to them how many protests, blogs, etc. we devote to a healthier fashion/beauty industry, if we’re still funding it.

Jennifer January 30, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I definitely think a financial impact packs the most punch. My Economics professor used this example in class of mini-skirts. Back in the 60′s girls wanted to start wearing shorter skirts, but the fashion designers would try to change and introduce a new style that were longer. Well girls just kept cutting their skirts shorter. Eventually they had to give them what they wanted.

I think this could work here, but we would have to find a really great way to make it work. For example, not purchasing from designers that refuse to use average sized models. I don’t know what the answer is, but I would like to see a change.

Ashley January 30, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Right. I think it will be a really difficult change – it’s so much a part of our culture now – but it’s not impossible. It would need to be embraced not just by women who represent the larger sizes, but also by those who don’t necessarily feel left out. Those who are naturally smaller, you know?

Just like in any social change movement you have the people who are directly impacted, and those who stand with them in solidarity, you know? In my mind, I’ve already gone down a few rabbit-trails of how hard it will be to get everyone on board, but it would be awesome to see happen. I don’t think it would be an overnight change. I imagine it would take a generation or two . . . but maybe I’m pessimistic?

Supporting brands that have already begun this work, even if they’re not necessarily our first choice, could be one step. Like Dove. I would love to be in some of their finance & marketing departments, to know if their campaigns of recent years have had a financial impact.

bellawriter (Nuala Reilly) January 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I agree with Liz. Maybe we’re not being loud enough…yet. I think that voice has been steadily growing though. I am a size 12 on a good day, a 14 on a regular day. I am proud of that. What I’m not proud of is when I go looking for a nice dress to wear to a wedding and it’s either tiny little things that a 16yr old might wear, available only in the small sizes (or, if by miracle in mine, it makes me look like a sausage) or these frumpy dumpy dresses in my actual size that even my mother wouldn’t wear.
Sigh, this is why I make a lot of my own dresses.

Liz January 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm

I have the hardest time finding clothes and I hate shopping. It stresses me out and makes me depressed. I either don’t fit into the styles that I like or I don’t like the styles that I fit into. I’ve also tried shopping at plus size stores and I’m not curvy enough for those clothes to fit properly either. There is only a tiny portion of clothes that are my style and size. It all drives me mad.

Chloe January 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I could not love this more.

Rachel January 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I swear to Gd…when I was anorexic and hospitalized, my doctor said to my mom, “How did you not notice her losing 20 lbs a month, if not more?” And my mom said, “You can never be too rich or too thin.”

Thank Gd she got help after that.

Heather January 31, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I’d just like to say that when I go to Old Navy to buy jeans for myself in a 16 or an 18, there are NEVER ANY. There area always 14′s and 20′s. This means that either A) They don’t stock jeans in my size for reasons unknown to me, or B) There are loads of women my size. Granted, I could lose a few, because my weight is not healthy, but I love my curves. LOVE. To look at “Supermodels” really, I just feel bad for them. I want to make them eat carbs. I’d rather live my life and be healthy and happy with who I am than conform to a norm that is nearly impossible to obtain. Thanks to my curves, I had a healthy pregnancy, and I have a healthy baby girl, and my husband loves me…

Rachel, your post is amazing….

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