|Source: Isabelle Bertolini - Cargo Collective|
If you want to lose weight, you'd better skip the cheese.
This is what I was said during Easter week-end, one day at lunch. I don't feel offended at all by this remark, and I think the person who told me this didn't mean any harm - and I did eat cheese nonetheless - but this made me think. About weight in our society, body image, and standards.
Here is the full story: as a hobby, I run. On that fateful cheese day, I had a one hour run in the morning, followed by a casual discussion about health and sports before lunch. And at lunchtime, when I asked for the cheese, this remark came up, probably following the sports discussion we had earlier.
And that is the thing, it would mean that just because I go to the gym and run regularly, she assumed I wanted to lose weight. But why would I? I am not really thin, but I am a petite woman with a rather small build, and I am well within a medically healthy weight. And at no time during the week-end did I mention a diet or an insatisfaction with my weight - which I don't really have.
So, does it mean that any woman, unless very slim, has to want to lose weight by default? What does it say about our weight standard in today's society? Maria already wrote a lenghty and interesting post about the subject called "You look so slim!" that made me think as well at the time.
We all know there is a standard in the "glossy" side of society, the magazines, advertisements, the world of fashion, actresses etc. But we all know this is not the real world. Yet, it seems that real world people expect us women to want to fit in that standard: tall and slim (and preferably blonde).
I don't have any particular grudge against tall, slim blonde women, but neither do I envy them, I am perfectly satisfied with my own body shape and I think there is beauty in any type of women. But somehow it seems that people would assume otherwise, and tell me not to eat cheese if I want to lose weight.
I also noticed this tendency in websites that provide advice on how to dress according to body shape. This one in particular is very detailed and complete about body shapes with advice on how to dress according to various criteria. What struck me about these general pieces of advice though, is that it seems that stylist's goal is to make any body shape look taller and thinner. Again. As if the goal was not to sublimate our silhouette, but to look as tall and thin as possible, instead of putting emphasis on our lovely feminine curves.
Of course, I am not saying all their advice is bad, there is a need for proportions in a silhouette, and to be honest there is a paragraph on how to emphasize the curves if we want to, so I'm not criticizing the site's quality in any way. I am just suprised that by default (again), the style advice is to help looking taller and thinner.
So what does it say about our society? Is it trying to make us fit in a model, should we all aspire to look the same? Does it try to make us think there is only one beauty standard and that we should want to reach it? Does it simply want us to be formatted to that standard? Or suffer from terrible frustration trying?
Maybe in the end it is down to that same thing: the consumerist society doesn't want us to be happy with what we have and who we are. After all, who would buy diet food, "slimming" clothes and subscribe to diet programs if we were all satisfied with our body shapes?