Okay, so you don’t look like the supermodel on the cover of Cosmo, but so what?
You’ve made it to the year 2016, where marriage is legal for both gay and straight communities, where Cuba is now a tourist destination and where we are only months away from the grand debut of Finding Dory!
But if you have made it to 2016, you’ve also lived to see a day where we as a community have lost touch with the beauty of everyday life. We are living in a time where inner beauty and personality don’t even matter anymore; it’s all about the way we look and the size of our clothes. Social media tells us how to look and its standards are what seem to determine our worth.
Recently, there has been much to do concerning the way people look at others. From people I know personally, to those we see on social media, it seems as if no one is immune to making fun of others based on the size of their waist.
Many are finding comfort in calling others fat or bony. It’s as though people have forgotten that sometimes we can’t control how we look. Yes, people can exercise and be healthy, but how quickly someone can gain weight or lose it isn’t always up to them.
The truth of the matter is, we are living in a world where people think it’s okay to body shame others.
We watch shows where the Kardashians are examples for body types, or magazines and runway clothing are the ultimate fashion goals, but people keep forgetting that sometimes we can’t control who we are. Beauty shouldn’t be defined based on a number on a scale or the size of your pants.
We are made differently, each and every one of us. We shouldn’t put each other down especially on social media nor should we try to change ourselves to fit society’s standards.
Floating around Facebook was an article titled, “Why we need to stop pretending being overweight is fabulous” by Rawrdinosaurr from Sparklife posts. The article featured an opinion about the popular “Real Beauty” campaign by Dove. The author addressed her views that the campaign, which features several women intended to embody the “real” and untouched females in our society, promoted obesity which was “unattractive, and for a good reason.”
[As a disclaimer, I understand that she is entitled to her opinion and this is not intended to bash her article, but rather share another view on the matter.]
The Dove campaign, just like many other body-positive ads, is promoting being happy in your own skin. Many women and men in America don’t naturally look like the models we see on the front covers of Cosmopolitan or Sports Illustrated. We have stretch marks, scars, thighs without gaps, rolls, etc. Yes, some women are naturally very skinny, but some aren’t. And the Dove campaign is giving light to the lesser-featured body types. Their goal, I believe, was not to promote obesity but to promote being happy with your own body. People aspire to be like those they see in magazines and on billboards. Well now they can see something that looks more like themselves and be more confident.
The author also said, “The annoying thing, however, about people loving their curves, is that skinny people are now victimized for being thin – for being vain about their appearance, and that men don’t go for bones,” which I feel is also inaccurate. People can love their curves and still be appreciative of those who are skinny. It’s because they aren’t focusing on body types or trying to victimize others, they are just being human and addressing people’s personalities.
I’ve seen girls in high school making fun of each other for being “too fat” or “too thin”, accusing people of having eating disorders or taking steroids. Friends of mine have starved themselves for the perfect body, going on water diets or over-working their bodies. Everyone has this expectation of what they want to look like, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m not trying to preach to the choir on a subject we’ve all heard about. I just want to address the fact that while people can exercise to be fit and toned, it’s okay if you don’t look like those advertised at Victoria’s Secret.
What’s reassuring is that companies such as Dove and Aerie are taking a stance against retouching and making a statement about the models they have advertising their products. They are letting people know that it is okay to look different and have imperfections. What’s not okay is shaming people for looking how they do naturally, whether they are skinny or curvy.
Aerie model Iskra Lawrence who is apart of their no-retouch Aerie Real campaign, took to Instagram to shame those who called her a “fat cow”, and worse, for advertising her curves and other imperfections. She posted a photo of her lying among various candies and snacks and reported that she was standing up for anyone who had ever been called fat.
Lawrence is challenging social media stereotypes concerning models. She is proving that everyone can be happy in their own skin. People shouldn’t be shamed for eating a brownie or missing a gym day. They should love who they are and work to be healthy—that should be the main focus.
Skinny shaming and fat shaming are both very real, but why does it matter? Does the size of your pants make you nicer? A better person? More loved? People are beautiful based on how they treat others and carry themselves, and what’s sickening is how prominent looks are in deciding friendships and relationships.
Overall, despite what you may have heard about how you look or what people think you should look like, what really matters is how you feel about yourself. If you are unhappy with the way you look don’t let it be because you don’t fit society’s standards for the “perfect” person. Let it be because you want to be the healthiest you possible. But even then, know that you are currently beautiful and will always be beautiful.
Photo by: Sara Carpenter