Five years ago I wrote an article titled ‘Strong is the new skinny’ – the latest unrealistic ideal, to highlight the potential detrimental effects this ‘movement’ could be having to a womans psyche and health.
Essentially I felt – in what may have been a well-founded effort to encourage woman to push weights, and develop strong bodies, which I whole heartedly support – we seemed to in fact have just moved away from the ‘ideal’ body requiring stringent dieting (see catwalk models of the 90’s), to one that required strict dieting AND rigorous training methods, to achieve a level of body fat that was neither healthy nor sustainable to MOST woman. Lets not even get started on the carbohydrate/fluid depletion methods sometimes adopted pre-photoshoot to get that ripped look (often only sustained for the day of the shoot), or the photoshopping that may have transpired afterwards. Often the actual models, don’t even look like the models in the photos…
And may I add, if it was really ‘strong’ being promoted then wouldn’t we see a few of these woman amoungst the new role models?:
But it’s not strong is it, it’s just another version of flawless. Now I realise the ‘perfect’ woman’s body has been unrealistically floated out there for the masses for 100’s of years, so I am not providing some profound insight here…
But is anyone as dumb-founded as I am at the supposed ideal female form of the last few years?
Try the following exercise to see what I mean:
- Print out images of the following ladies, then cut out the female body part listed
- Paste together to make your ‘perfect’ lady.
- Kate Upton – D-cup Breasts
- Pink – sculpted abs
- Kendall Jenner – whittled waist (or cut into the sides of Pink’s to save time…)
- Taylor Swift – chisled thighs with ‘thigh gap’
- Kim Kardshian – booty (gonna look weird on your collage, as it’s obviously meant for the back…)
The image will at this point have no arms or head, but maybe these ain’t important for our perfect gal, right?!?
You get my drift… So does this woman actually exist naturally? Because she sounds like a computer generated alien?. And from my years working as a Dietitian I found that, as a general rule (and yes there are exceptions):
- sculpted abs means naturally smaller boobs (boobs are fat after all, just check out most female athletes – 6 packs, b-cups or smaller)
- large thigh gaps negate naturally voluptuous bootys (once again due to the leanness required, and often lack of muscle)
This new perfectionism has come about in the age of instagram, where #bodytransformation #bodygoals #12weekchallenge images are bombarding our feeds, sponsored by supplement companies, fitness studios, nutrition programs, and distorted by filters and misleading angles. And despite the over-whelming access to information (scientifically based or not) we now have, I think we’re coming to realise that no amount of Cross-Fit, TRX Training, Barre workouts, Pilates, Waist Training, Paleo nutrition or Veganism will give one person the apparent ‘awesome foursome’ of Kate Upton’s boobs, Kendall Jenner’s waist, Kim Kardashian’s booty and Taylor Swift’s thighs….
Unless….there’s a bit of nip/tucking going on?
Now if you talk to top plastic surgeons in the US, they definately agree that ‘body work’ is taking up the majority of their practice now. With woman requesting Kardashian-esque buttocks, liposuction for slimmer thighs, and augmentation to fuller breasts. In fact, one of the UK’s leading cosmetic surgery groups – The Plastic Surgery Group – said they saw a 500% increase in consults for the ‘Brazilian Butt Lift’ in 2016. And the prevalence is astounding: In South Korea, the plastic surgery rate has reached 1 in 5 woman.
Consider though, that this ideal woman is just a ‘trend’ that the media insists you should be worried about, after all, in my short lifetime we’ve seen the:
- 80’s supermodel – tall, athletic, with legs that would ‘go on for days’ (see Elle MacPherson and Naomi Campbell)
- 90’s waif – grungy, androgynous and very thin aka ‘heroin girl’ (see Kate Moss and Jodie Kidd)
- 2000’s tone – more athletic, with abs a big focus (see Britney Spears and Gisele Bundchen)
- 2010’s – Big booties, big boobs, tiny waists, and sometimes a thigh gap – computer generated or not… (think Kim Kardashian and Beyonce)
And if you’re trying to keep up with the Jone’s in fashion, you’d better check out the latest trends predicted by plastic surgeons in 2017 before going under the knife – because smaller, more athletic looking breasts with smaller nipples are ‘back’, apparently!!
Unfortunately, most of us never actually consider or reflect on why we do things, where these longings come from, and what’s actually important to us, until faced with a major life event such as death, divorce, disease or redundancy.
Does this constant comparison of ourselves to these ‘hyperideals’ in any way improve our lives? Does it really benefit our relationships? work productivity? social interactions? confidence? Or even our desire to get out and experience life to it’s fullest?
When I hear stats like:
- 70% of girls are dissatisfied with their bodies
- and already by 5-12 years old, over 50% of girls want to lose weight
I think “probably not”, and feel something has to be done. But at the rate we’re going I can only see the situation deteriorating.
For those that have been through great adversity, you may have been blessed with the realisation of what really matters. And for those that haven’t, merely considering whether we would still choose to obsess over such ornamental things as the way our body looked if we lost our partner, family member or best friend tomorrow, can be a sobering exercise….
I would thoroughly recommend all woman, and especially those with daughters, sit down and watch the movie ‘Embrace’ together. Maybe it will start a conversation of how you want the world to change. Because with the language we use, the magazines we do or don’t buy, the people and companies we follow on social media, and the way we choose to live our lives and ‘buy out’ of all of this, we can start to make an impact on this out-of-control society. We can start to teach our daughters, and ourselves, that being a pretty girl, a hot pregnant woman, a yummy mummy, MILF, cougar or panther is not the point of life, and constanty striving to be this person will never make you happy.
In the beautiful words of Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”
So go out and be kind, do what you love, do it well, get involved in what’s really important to you, be passionate, and learn to get comfortable in your own skin, because that girl is always magnetically beautiful.