In October of 2012 a tall, enviably thin, woman walked onto the TEDx Mid Atlantic stage wearing nothing more than a short LBD (little black dress) and high heels. She began her talk by telling the audience that she has been a fashion model for 10 years. She then commented on the uncomfortable tension in the room due to her attire and proceeded to change into flats, a long skirt, and a loose sweater before continuing her talk.
That women was model Cameron Russell, and her talk was about how images can be very very deceiving, shining a light on the fact that a lot of models, despite the hordes of adoring fans wanting to look just like them, are very insecure about their bodies. Russell also commented on how girls wanting thinner thighs in order to be happy will only find that they are less happy once they get them.
With her comment on the uncomfortable tension due to her attire, Russell also brought to light the two very different types of treatment that tall, thin, women receive because of their beauty. One type in which things in life are easier because of their looks (being able to get out of speeding tickets for example), and another side in which they are the focus of very mean and acrid comments from other women.
We can see the different treatment that some women receive from other women just by looking at The Daily HIIT blog and Facebook page. For example, a week ago, two articles were published on the blog in which the authors commented on how all female bodies were beautiful, curvy or even not so curvy. Both articles received a lot of positive comments.
However, it is certainly easy to also find mean comments on the blog, a lot of them about host Lisa-Marie, whether the comments are calling her too skinny, or deriding her for her (now removed) breast implants. Lisa-Marie fits Russell’s description of the tall, thin woman who has “won the genetic lottery” so why all the mean comments? We certainly wouldn’t make such mean comments to someone with a “normal” body.
Or perhaps it’s not the body type, but the celebrity status combined with the body type that brings the negative comments. We see all kinds of before and after photos of BodyRockers where the after photos certainly fit into the tall and thin category and yet the comments are mostly positive. However, I’ve seen before/after photos in which there are comments that the BodyRocker was already thin in the before photo and therefore didn’t really “work” much for the after photo, basically saying “so what” to all the hard work that person did.
Back to Russell’s talk… models realize that the reasons they are so popular are silly, but it’s not the models themselves that are driving their own popularity, it’s you and me. Why do we criticize so harshly those we have placed on a pedestal? The reason tall thin women have “won the genetic lottery” is because society (that would be you and me) have said that those are the types of people we want to see. The tide is slowly turning (or at least I hope it is), but until we can eradicate rude and negative comments of other’s bodies, we still have a long way to go.
How have you contributed to unrealistic expectations? Have you negatively commented on another’s body?
Photo from Bodyrock.tv
See this post on The Daily HIIT
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I especially like your point about we as society being responsible for defining beauty in a way that excludes most of us. It is something I have thought about for quite some time. It is the reason I stopped buying tabloids and most fashion magazines. My actions may not turn the tide, but hopefully it’ll add a few bricks to the dam.