It’s normal to hate your body and don’t you dare say otherwise.
I confess – I like (some) women’s magazines. My mum likes them too. So, usually, either I pick up a mag and make sure to bring it with me when I visit my parents, or my mum calls me and tells me she got something. I’ll read 1-2 articles, if they seem interesting, but I mostly look at the pictures. My mum and I compare coats that cost as much as small cars and wonder if anyone actually buys them. Hey, it’s parent-adult child bonding. Recently, she hasn’t told me that my tastes are weird as often as she used to.
Obviously, I see many pictures of models. Before my weight loss, I felt there was an insurmountable barrier between me and those women. I thought they were flawless beings with perfect lives, constantly basking in adoration and pretty much untouchable. In the meantime, I have understood that they are people like you and me (though with a much higher income) who do this for a living, and that they are far from being safe from insecurities.
I still believe that the fashion world should be more permissive when it comes to size.
However, I’m really conflicted about the plus-size label. Basically, anyone who models and is not a US size 0 (or 00) falls under the plus-size label, whether they wear a US 10 or a US 22. Ideally, I think there shouldn’t be labels such as regular-size vs. plus-size models, or high fashion vs. commercial models. In the real world, people of all shapes and sizes wear clothes. So, logically, I think the people who model these clothes should just be called models and come in more varied shapes and sizes. However, looking for logic in the fashion industry is like looking for an HBO original series without gore and gratuitous nudity.
Make no mistake – these are, in fact, first world problems, though I’m currently in Eastern Europe – where, by the way, thinness is even more prized than in the West. But that’s exactly the thing – the first world seems to expect women to hate themselves. And why? It’s easy – so they keep paying for more stuff. They say to us, for instance, “You have wrinkles? That is wrong – you need an anti-wrinkle cream. One for the daytime and one for the night, silly! And not this cheap one, get the expensive one, the price only means that it’s better!”
The reason why we believe these messages is that they are everywhere. Even if you are someone who decides to never leaf through a women’s magazine again, or resolves to not watch advertisements, they still get to you. Advertisements are literally everywhere in the so-called civilized world. Their conjoined twin, Photoshop, functions as a weapon of mass disposal of insecurity and self-hatred. The worst thing is that we know – we know that, most likely, the woman in the picture does not have that perfect cyborg skin and that she, too, feels she cannot live up to the computer-updated version of her. But Photoshop acts in insidious ways and still gets to you.
A while ago, several before & after pictures from a Victoria’s Secret shoot were leaked. The retouched version had removed the model’s expression lines and the skin folds created by the twisty poses. Both of these things were due to her being a human instead of, you know, a robot. So, even when you do fit the standards, you don’t really fit them, because you get lines on your forehead when you squinch, and that can’t be in the catalog.
Due to such practices, hating your body has, sadly, become normal. In fact, nowadays, if you don’t hate your body, or at least one pet-peeve area of it, then there’s something suspicious about you. What do you mean you *like* your body? You’re so full of yourself! Don’t you have, you know, cellulite and stretch marks? Yes, and yes. But, you know what, supermodels have cellulite. You don’t see it because it’s always photoshopped off their thighs. Professional athletes also have cellulite. It’s normal. As for the equally dreaded stretch marks – most women who are mothers will have them, and those who are not mothers might have them from a growth spurt in their early teens, like me.
The thing is, I like clothes. I like make-up, though I don’t wear much. I like (some) women’s magazines. I understand that fantasy is an important element when it comes to these things, but I wish they’d stop taking us for complete fools. I wish they’d stop it with the insidious messages about the things that are supposedly wrong with us, and instead focus more on the part when they show us that it is, in fact, possible to love ourselves. I wish they’d break up with Photoshop, or at least take it easier. In short – I wish they would stop making us feel guilty for the imperfections that make us unique. It would be a win-win situation.
Anca Rotar is a Romanian-born writer, over-thinker and caffeine addict. She is the author of two books, Hidden Animals and Before It Sets You Free, both available from Amazon.com. Among her interests, which she finds it hard to shut up about, she counts fashion, yoga, city breaks and deadpan sarcasm. She is also currently studying Japanese, so wish her luck. You can sample bits of Anca’s creative writing here.