Recently I was looking online at ‘vintage pictures’ for inspiration of images that I could put up in my room. What I discovered littered between sepia images of flowers, old keys, and the Eiffel tower, was quite revealing: I found articles/advertisements, similar to the one below, for women who have poor body image, advocating weight gain by saying: “Don’t think you’re “born” to be skinny and friendless”…. “If you want to look better by adding desired pounds and inches of welcome weight… try WATE-ON”, and “Men wouldn’t look at me when I was skinny”. In a nutshell these body images show skinny as the undesired body shape and the one to get rid of.
This baffled me, as in my living memory, all I have ever been told and shown in magazines, on TV, etc… is that skinny is the ideal and that one can never be too thin! And this summary doesn’t come close to representing all of the articles, in fact there were many more – it seems that at the time, that was what was ‘normal’ and widespread; that the media portrayed the ideal as ‘curvy and gorgeous’ instead of the current ‘slim and beautiful’.
I had all these thoughts going through my head: who then decides the ‘ideal’? What an outrage…. and…. How can it change with time? But what I could see is that although, yes, there is an ideal that was presented in the media of that time that is different to the ideal that is presented now – it is actually still the same – just two different sides of the same coin! There is the same undercurrent of women being unhappy with their bodies, and that even though some may have achieved the ‘ideal’ (shown in the articles as models for the ‘look’), how could it have satisfied them when the ideal then shifted to the opposite!
It would appear that there was no passing down through generations of how to be satisfied with our body regardless of what’s ‘trending’ and what someone else’s choice of an ideal body image might be.
This leaves us with two important questions:
Is it then more important to figure out how we can accomplish whatever the ‘ideal’ is of that particular time period, OR is it more important to address why as a society we have allowed women of all ages to dislike their bodies, and perhaps be seen to even be endorsing that deeply devious and poisonous attitude?
The latter seems the more obvious choice to me…. And as part of starting (or continuing) this discussion, I would like to contribute that in my experience of women who both dislike and love their bodies – it seems like the dissatisfaction doesn’t actually come from how women look and whether they are curvy or skinny, but from how they live and feel in their own skin on a daily basis.
My experience of women who truly love their bodies (regardless of the ‘ideal’ body image out there) and describe themselves as beautiful even though they may not be size 0, is that the way they live and take care of themselves affirms their body confidence and supports them in every way.
There is also a deep honouring of how they feel, what they feel to do, when they feel to go to bed if tired, and what they feel to eat. And there is a connection or relationship with the fact that they (and all women) are naturally beautiful on the inside – that the amazingness they feel every day that comes as a result of these choices to live in a different way to the trend, can be expressed outwards, and it just so happens that very often this expression through their clothes, makeup and movements, can be truly beautiful.
So now I am offering you the reader the floor here – what difference do you find in the way that you live on a daily basis that can affect how you feel about your body?
By Jessica Williams, Frome, UK