The ethereally skinny size zero model portrayed by Kate Moss and her kin is showing signs of going out of vogue; 10 years ago, 40 percent of women surveyed by website Sofeminine.co.uk said they had starved themselves to achieve the model-esque look. In 2013, this number had dropped to 7 percent.
The other look that the tide seems to be turning on is the Barbie body —the surgically enhanced look made famous by the likes of Pamela Anderson, and beamed into our houses nightly via fabulously trashy reality TV. A decade ago, one in eight aspired to this body shape but in 2013, a mere one in 200 women wanted to achieve it.
Instead, one in five women surveyed aspired to the “fit not thin” look showcased on fitspiration Pintrests everywhere, and a whopping 68 percent of women stated that they aspired to be soft and curvy (think Christina Hendricks from “Mad Men” soft). And out of all the body shapes, over half of the women rated the soft and curvy look as the most realistic body type for women.
But don’t break out the Health-At-Every-Size champagne just yet—while the majority of women aspired to figures that may be in their reach without surgery or starving, 92 percent said that they still feel the pressure to keep up with the most fashionable body shape. And let’s face it—even with beautiful ladies like Lena Durham and Adele rising up in the public eye, the “ideal” body type is still thinny-thin-thin—and you could even argue that the “fit not thin” look made famous by the likes of CrossFit is just the thin look 2.0, dressed up in muscles.
And while the number of women who aspired to be plus-sized had doubled from 1.5 percent to 3 percent, this is still very small proportion of women stating that they wanted their body to be this shape. If this survey is representative of your average modern day lady, it seems likely that a whole lot more than 3 percent of the women surveyed actually fell into the plus-sized range. How many of the women aspiring to “fit not thin” or “soft” actually had any chance of getting down to the thinner body types? How many of these women were dooming themselves to a lifetime of feeling bad about their bodies, or to going round and around the dieting express?
And regardless of the figures that women are looking to for inspiration, it seems doubtful that the media will pick up on this any time soon. As long as marketing campaigns hinge on telling us what is wrong with our bodies (and how their product will fix it), thin in some shape or form will always be in—it’s harder to be thin, so there’s more money in it. If it was easy for us to sail on down to Thinville and stay there, we’d lose weight once and be done with it—and the diet and exercise industry wouldn’t be raking in billions from repeat customers, year on year.
And while I applaud findings that women are aspiring to figures that are more attainable, it still doesn’t sit right with me that certain shapes are more “fashionable.” Because the truth of the matter is, we are all born with a rough blueprint for our body shape. We have some say in the matter: We can eat our way on up to curvy or plus-sized, or we can exercise and diet our way down to the thinner side of the scale. But unless that is our natural state, we may be fighting a life-long battle against our genes to achieve a body type that just doesn’t fit our bodies’ natural blueprint.
To illustrate: Many moons ago, I made it my personal mission in life to get a J-Lo butt. I was awed by the beauty of her ass, how sensual it looked, how womanly. My rat-bastard parents’ genetic lottery gave me an ass that that could be politely called non-existent, but I dutifully lunged and squatted for hours at the gym and I waited for my inner J-Lo to emerge. Months and months I spent, squatting away, upping my protein, zealously researching the latest new technique I could use to get my much-coveted ass. And the results?
A rock-hard, non-existent butt.
The truth is, no matter how many lunges or squats I do, I’m doomed to live my life with a butt that does a serviceable job of sitting, but will never fill out a pair of jeans. But this is the hand that my genes have dealt me, and wringing my hands over my lack of booty is really just a waste of lunges– I end up feeling likr shit, and I also end up with exactly the same ass at the end of the day.
Surely there has to be a better way? Wouldn’t we be happier if we could accept the hand that the genetic lottery has dealt us, and (if we’re really that invested in looking good), to just aspire to be the best version of ourselves?
Some of us are born to have luscious curves, some of us are born to be wonderfully willowy, and some of us are destined to live with double-D’s or A cups. All of these body shapes are just as womanly as the other, and (dare I say it), just as beautiful.
News of a shifting beauty standard is welcome, not because a curvy shape is more “womanly,” but because the estrogen that flows through our bodies makes this shape more achievable for most ladies. And a beauty standard that is shifting from ethereally thin to muscled or curvaceous may mean that most of us won’t be comparing ourselves to a standard that we can never hope to measure up to.[divider] [/divider]
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