Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Body Image

Normally, I don’t concern myself with drama surrounding the beauty pageant world, but this story intrigues me.

Apparently, Miss England, Georgia Horsley is being advised to put on weight for the upcoming Miss World Competition.

It seems the Miss World judges favor curvier women.

I believe they favor curvier women now, due to the outcry in the past year or two that stick thin, heroin-addict-looking models should not be a beauty ideal… and I agree with that.

Clearly, Horsley's advisors are concerned with winning, and their suggestion is just that… a suggestion, in the direction of having their girl win the crown.

This woman is no stick figure. She says she has an athletic, almost boyish figure that she doesn't feel looks unhealthy at all. I have to agree.
What I admire most is Horsley's attitude in the interview with Meredith Vieria. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21486415/?GT1=10450

She’s a good sport. Okay, I’ll try eating more, but if it changes my figure in a way I’m not proud of, I’m scrapping the whole plan.

Good girl!

But here’s the thing. I am very supportive of the effort to promote healthy body images. I think Dove’s campaign for real beauty is REMARKABLE!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaH4y6ZjSfE (watch: Dove Onslaught. part of it is hard to watch but stick it out, the end is key.)
(this one is awesome too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U )

Yes! Women with curves are beautiful. But guess what! So is a healthy, lean, athletic body.

I, like Miss Georgia Horsley, will never be a curvy woman. If I put on weight, I’d just be a thicker stick! Just because I’m naturally thin doesn't mean I’m anorexic or unhealthy.

It always bothers me when, voices in support of realistic body images use the phrase ‘Real Women’. Does that mean that if I'm thin I’m somehow not real? Am I not a complete woman because I don’t have curves?

When we support a healthy body image… shouldn't that be all inclusive? Do we really want thin, athletic girls to feel less than? Why can’t we just accept people as they are? As long as you are healthy, strong and mobile – why point fingers?

What really bothers me are the stargazers who feel obliged to 'diagnose' certain celebrities with anorexia. Ellen Pompeo & Sandra Oh (Grey’s Anatomy), Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal, Brothers and Sisters) for example.

I championed Ellen Pompeo when she spoke up to Entertainment Tonight reporters this summer, saying it’s very dangerous to assign eating disorders to people just based on their appearance. (of course very little was made of that – which was disappointing) Clearly, the entertainment media wants to hold on to thin women as their scapegoats.

Allow me to explain why I feel so strongly about this.

I recall Health class in junior high. Part of the curriculum surrounding healthy eating, included a discussion of the eating disorders Anorexia and Bulimia. I remember the whole class turning around to stare at me.

Yes, I was a walking twig with knobby knees as large as my head.
I wanted to scream, “Didn't you just hear the definition? Those disorders involve a distorted body image and an obsession with food! I know I’m thin. And I probably eat more than any of the rest of you. (and I don’t barf either!)”

It wasn't until college that I found the words that worked.

Girls in the dorm and in my classes would tell me how jealous they were of my size, saying, “You’re so lucky. You’re anorexic."

My blood boiled. They claimed it was a compliment.

Finally I told them, "So if I said that you look like an alcoholic... would you take it as a compliment?"

Bottom line. To promote a healthy body image for all women, let’s just accept one another as we are. I won’t criticize women with sexy curves. And they won’t criticize the women who don’t have to struggle to be thin.

Having a thin, athletic body is no more a sign of disease than being blessed with ample breast tissue without surgery. Or having bigger hips after a few pregnancies.

As long as we’re strong and healthy and eat well – let’s celebrate one another!

Love your body for what it is capable of! What it looks like is inconsequential.

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