I don’t want to brag or anything but lately I’ve become aware that I’ve become pretty attractive physically. I have the body of a supermodel… from the 1600’s.
I’ve never been called skinny, but the word fat has been known to be thrown around. I’m not huge but I’m by no means a delicate flower. I think I can remember the first time I realized I was a bigger girl. I was about 5 years old and I’d asked my mom for a treat of some sort, I can’t recall what but I can recall her response: “Do you really think you need it?”
At that age I had no idea what she meant. She asked me to look down and tell her what I saw. It had never occurred to me that I looked any different from any other little girl my age but at that moment I started to clue in to what she was getting at. I played coil. “My feet” I answered. She gave me a sympathetic look and said “Really? You can you see them over your tummy?” I can’t remember how the rest of the exchange went but I know afterward I ended up in my bedroom in tears.
My mother wasn’t trying to be cruel or to hurt my feelings. That was the last thing she wanted. I’d gotten the round gene from her and she didn’t want to see me go through the teasing, bullying and insecurity she did as a kid. She wanted to help me. She wanted me to be aware so that I could fix it and avoid the same blows to my self-esteem that she took and still carries with her. She wanted better for me.
After that incident I was acutely aware of how little I resembled any of the princesses in my disney movies. How could I be a princess? I wasn’t beautiful and dainty like a princess was supposed to be. I was closer to the sea witch Ursula in physique than I was to Ariel.
My weight has always been a touchy subject for me. I was teased in school because kids are assholes, I was shy, and being over weight made me a bigger and slower target. Not that I was beat up or anything. I was a girl. I got sly implications, laughed at behind my back, and if I was lucky out right insults. Sometimes I still can’t shake that paranoid feeling that when complete strangers are laughing it’s at me. Fuck, it was years before I was even comfortable eating around other people.
As a young girl the media teaches you to rank your self worth on your physical appearance. You can’t walk past a magazine rack without seeing actresses being criticized for their weight be they “too fat” or “too skinny”. There’s more interest in how much weight an actress lost for her new role than her performance.
Some people even get mad at celebrities for gaining weight as if the act is some kind of personal slight against them. One of the things that made me the most livid was tabloids poking fun at Kim Kardashian for her weight gain in the months right after having a baby. By no means am I a Kardashian fan but the mean spirited things said about her inability to slim down within weeks of giving birth were horrendous.
I think pretty much everyone would agree that Adele is an exceptionally talented singer, musician, and woman but yet you can’t find a music video on youtube where some asshole hasn’t deemed it fit to comment and mock her weight. Adele might be packing some extra pounds but she’s a total babe regardless of her dress size.
The media expects everyone to live up to an impossible standard of beauty that can only be achieved in photoshop and then gets mad when we can’t deliver all the while praising women promoting positive body image. It’s fucked up ya’ll. That’s why beautiful and slim Jennifer Lawrence can make comments like, “If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet’, I’m like, ‘You can go fuck yourself”, or “In Hollywood I’m considered obese”, and everyone loves her for it even though she’s far from being considered a plus sized woman by anyone’s standards. She can say those things and be celebrated because she is conventionally attractive. If Lawrence was 40 pounds heavier would everyone feel the same way? Sure a lot of people would still rally behind her but there’d be a lot of people telling her she was a bad, unhealthy, role model as well.
Most of the movies and shows I watched growing up had a lack of female protagonists or even well rounded female characters and if she had a well rounded body you could just forget about character development all together. Even todays leading ladies follow a strict set of rules, one of which is she has to be attractive, especially if she’s going to have a love interest. Big boned girls are a) comic relief, b) awkward sidekicks, or c) dreaded obstacles for wingmen. At least we’ve always got Hairspray but that’s about it.
Boys are bombarded with expectations of looks and manliness as well but in regards to weight they also enjoy the trope of the loveable, chubby, goofball, every man. Yep, if you’re a man than funny trumps pounds every time whether the genre is comedy, action, or romance.
When it comes to film and television, men have no problem ending up with girls who are “out of their league” it’s even expected. Fred gets Wilma, Seth Rogan can knock up Katherine Heigl or marry Rose Byrne, and Jonah Hill can land Emma Stone but as much as we love Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson you’ll never see them making out with Ryan Gosling. That’s why I was routing for Elizabeth on New Girl. A heavier set girl snagging a hunk like Max Greenfield? You never see that shit!
Pudgy guys are paired with smoking hot wives in nearly every sitcom ever made, one of those shows was King Of Queens.
The couple in the show consists of the husky and often unbelievably stupid Doug and his hot and often bitchy wife Carrie. Their relationship was the show’s main dynamic despite Jerry Stiller being the funniest thing on the show. Everything was fine for fans and no one cared about Kevin James weight, but Leah Remini was mocked plenty when she put on weight in later seasons mostly due to the fact that she had a fucking baby. Apparently people weren’t so forgiving when she had a harder time loosing the weight than most celebrities like she broke some unspoken contract with the public to never have an actual human body.
This next bit is for my extra curvy ladies. One of the hardest things I had to wrap my head around as a kid was my sister’s looks. My sister is tiny in every sense of the word. She’s short enough and thin enough to carry around in your pocket. She’s the very definition of petite. She could have been a ballerina. Her and I look almost nothing alike. She was always pretty and I was always frumpy. Trying to understand how she could be so skinny and perfect when I was such a tubby little troll was difficult.
She got the looks and the friends and I got good grades. I was a smart kid. I had to be. The way I saw it I didn’t have looks going for me so I had to make up for it somehow. She seemed to be effortlessly liked where as I felt I had to work so hard to get people to see past those extra pounds. This definitely housed some totally unfair resentment on my part. She couldn’t help the way she was anymore than I could. It wasn’t her fault I felt ugly it was societies expectations of me that did. I had no right to be angry with her.
This leads me to a huge flaw with the body image movement. In response to being bombarded by the media with images of what we’re supposed to look like many women understandably go on the defensive but sometimes it goes to far. We’re so mad at mainstream culture for making us feel bad about ourselves that we lash out at the thin girls as if it’s their fault all because they’re slim. Just like it’s not ok to knock Jessica Simpson or Tyra Banks for gaining weight it’s not right to show people a picture of the always thin Alyson Hannigan in a bikini with her arms behind her back and call her anorexic.
The reason why skinny women are the subjects of so much resentment and anger is because they represent that ideal we’ll never achieve. We associate their physique with starving ourselves and all those other unhealthy things girls do to try and loose wait. And no matter how thin anyone gets society tells them it’s still not skinny enough and that’s why that tiny girl on your Facebook feed is always trying to close those “last 10 pounds”.
None of this is their fault. They’re susceptible to the same pressures we are and making fun or tearing down someone for being naturally skinny is just as bad as teasing someone for being fat. No woman’s (or man’s) body should ever be the subject of ridicule. We’re all people with our own flaws and insecurities who deserve compassion. That’s something I’ve come to realize in recent years.
I’ve accepted that I’ll never look like the photoshopped models in magazines. How can I except to achieve that when they don’t look that way? I’ll always be thicker and I’m actually happy with that. If I was to wake up tomorrow morning weighing 110 it wouldn’t feel right. It wouldn’t be a proper representation of who I am. Sure there are some creases here and there I could do without and that’s why in the last month I’ve really made and effort to eat better and work out. Not to loose weight but to stay healthy. I don’t want to look like a balloon or a stick figure. I just want to look like I’m capable of kicking a little ass if need be.