Female Body Image and Marketing

Many people might have noticed lately the #PlusIsEqual manufactured by Lane Bryant. The aim of the campaign is seemingly to get more coverage for these plus size women. The mission statement on their website reads as is:

67% of US women are size 14 to 34. But they’re underrepresented on billboards, magazines, TV…everywhere. We believe all women should be seen and celebrated equally. See what people are saying. Add your voice and join us in calling for equal representation.

So of course this is a noble cause. It just so happens that Lane Bryant specializes in selling plus size women’s clothing, and no doubt the campaign is to raise profits. If they are able to successfully make this the accepted body type, they’ll be able to raise their profits with the flood of women accepting the size and buying their clothes.

I just want to put a formal warning I’ll be treading on thin ice from here on out. The first thing we have to consider is that a body type such as the one displayed in the ads, is not healthy nor is it ideal. Having a large excess of unregulated body fat and then encouraging that lifestyle, is of course not healthy. I don’t need to go over the numerous health risks associated with obesity. So at its heart the campaign is designed to encourage an unhealthy lifestyle to raise profits of the company. This is no different than an advertisement for cigarettes or whiskey. The only slight difference is the way it is presented, being that Lane Bryant presents it as a progressive social movement.

So even if the campaign has its good and bad signs, which is the most beneficial for women? Well the obvious aim for the movement is for women to feel better about themselves, to accept who they are and be proud of it. This is a very dangerous thing. There is a difference between accepting who you are and letting yourself deteriorate. Accepting who you are would be to say that you are naturally defensive, or you are inquisitive or even if you have an annoying laugh. These things are all in your nature and it’s crucial to live at peace with these things. A person will bring themselves much more grief by worrying about something like their shoe size and trying to change it, than if they simply accepted it was unchangeable. For to accept the nature of things is to relieve yourself of anguish.

But if a person is in anguish over the type of fashion they have, if they have acne, or even if their feelings are getting too long, why not relieve themselves of the despair and fix these things? Why not find new clothes, learn how to treat the problem, or cut their nails? If it is in their power and nature to change these things, since it is beneficial to them they have an obligation to fix these things. They can be changed and will relieve the person of the suffering. The same is with body image. It is within a reasonable person’s power to change this thing, so why not do it? So many people today suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem because they do not fit the typical model body image, but it is not even desirable to fit that image. If getting to an acceptable weight will help you be happier, then you have a moral obligation to do so.

But many people will say “It’s easier said than done!” which of course is true, because every action on earth is easier said than done. If you are realistic about yourself, break up each problem into small steps, and teach yourself dedication then you will find it is much easier. It doubles as an exercise in discipline.

The #PlusIsEqual campaign is destine to fail. It’s hard to argue against that. People have been pushing for this new body image to be deemed sexy, but it simply won’t happen. Not because the mainstream media is working against you by only showing supermodels, but because men are biologically predetermined to find a specific body type desired. While yes “What is sexy” changes quite a bit, at the base they are the same and is only the image pushed by the media and not realistic expectation. Psychologically men desire women with a slim waist and wide hips, because that means they have likely not had a child before, the child is more likely to survive, and the woman is healthier to take care of the child. An excess of fat is not only unhealthy, but more will likely lead to birth defects. Notice how in the advertisement, to an extent all the woman still had that hourglass shape? It was only represented in a plus size fashion. They themselves are fitting that same standard. They are trying to get this new look as sexy as possible with consisting of the same practices as before, trying to get this look to be acceptable and further raising their profits. A plus size model is still a model.

And now for something that people often make excuses for. Trading off looks for intellectualism is no true trade. Saying to yourself “I don’t need to be healthy, at least I’m smart,” is in itself a contradictory statement. The mind and the body are not two completely separate entities, they are in relation to each other. If you truly are a smart person but are overweight and unhealthy, you are condemning yourself to an early death, effectively cutting off the use for your oh-so powerful mind. But in return if you are just healthy but have a useless brain you are condemned to be exploited and commanded. The mind and the body are not mutually exclusive.

Do not simply accept your condition fed to you by a clothing campaign. It is healthy to remember that the company does not have the best interest of the people in mind, but simply for the company. Changing yourself when allowed by nature is beneficial in this way. It is just the easy answer to accept every little bit about yourself. Relief of anguish and the trail to happiness is not far along, it is just how you choose to get there.

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41 thoughts on “Female Body Image and Marketing

  1. Statistically, men around the world prefer women with a waist/hip ratio of 0.7. Personally, I tend to lean a little on the heavier side, but the shape is essentially the same. The problem, I think, doesn’t come from one of which size is considered sexy; it’s that women are displayed as little more than sex objects. There’s an innate human need to be liked, to be appreciated and we have a generation of women who define their self esteem in terms of their sexuality. Anxiety about anything is a great way to market to people, and this is no different. Lane Bryant gets to cash in on people’s insecurity and look like the good guy in the process. Even if we change the beauty standard, it’s going to be the same thing all over again until we address the root problem; which is the reduction of living, breathing, people to disposable objects.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. I think you took a brave step writing this for two reasons: you are not a woman & if that is you in the profile pic, you are not overweight. It is my belief that as writers, we must be able to write about various subjects, present precise statistics, and points of view, and make the reader *feel* something. You did that. I applaud you for it. Thin ice, for sure though, but definitely worthy of applause.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. There are many problems with this article and its core argument. I won’t argue that Lane Bryant is (rather transparently) promoting its products by co-opting an existing social campaign. But first, note that it IS an existing campaign. Other people, without a business agenda, are also working against the imposition of a ‘standard’ of beauty. That applies as much to heavier women as it does to smaller women with eating disorders… or men, for that matter. In fact, standards of ‘attractiveness’ could be argued to originate from other businesses with their own agenda… to sell cosmetics, weight loss services, exercise programs, smaller (and thus cheaper) clothing, plastic surgery, etc. Arguing for a biological origin for a specific body type preference is undermined by preferences in other times and cultures for even larger women or small, frail, consumptive women. Where is the biological advantage there? Your argument’s next flaw is the assumption that every larger woman is unhealthy. Neither Lane Bryant nor any other program in opposition to a fixed beauty standard advocates ignoring one’s health or gaining more weight. The idea is to separate ‘weight’ from ‘attractiveness’. The same logic applies to a cosmetic injury, disability, chronic skin condition, and so forth. Beauty isn’t just inner, it includes multiple physical aspects, not only weight. If one ‘flaw’ is sufficient to deem someone unattractive, then everyone should be unattractive. Why is weight worse and more criticized than other ‘fixable’ flaws? You cite the difference between conditions you can fix and conditions you cannot, but how does someone outside of a person’s life judge what they have or have not done to care for themselves? Must a woman with visible scarring undergo repairs or treatments to make herself ‘pretty’, just because she can, or else be considered lazy, repulsive, and somehow immoral? Yet that is the attitude toward weight. How do you know a plus-sized woman hasn’t tried to lose weight? Some people are larger and literally cannot lose weight… and can still be beautiful and do not deserve scorn. Better to err on the side of sympathy rather than leave the climate of disdain unchallenged. Why does anyone need negativity? It isn’t just social pressure that leads obese people to struggle with their weight. Physical discomfort, personal health concerns, and yes, a lack of clothing options are among the many reasons people will always struggle with high weight, without any need to be considered unattractive or acceptable targets for shame. Lane Bryant may be facile and obvious in their approach, but that hardly discounts the other voices calling for an end to body shaming and a narrow cultural standard of acceptable appearance.

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    • Yes this is true, this has been an ongoing movement to change the way people view issue
      of size and self-esteem. However, there are clear motives for Lane Bryant to endorse
      this cause. For instance for a long time people had the image that smoking was cool, but
      it would be beneficial to Marlboro to promote the idea that smoking was cool because then
      more people would buy cigarettes. It’s the same concept with this movement, but Lane
      Bryant is tapping into that progressive energy.

      I don’t doubt that the modern standard of beauty was manufactured by corporations to sell
      products, because when you think of it most things in our daily lives are tailored that
      way.

      The ideal body type does change but never so drastically as you presume. One generation could
      prefer women with a slightly larger waist than the other, but never is the ideal body type
      deliberately unhealthy. When has the accepted body type been to be extremely malnourished
      or severely obese? There is an undeniable urge to find a mate that is healthy enough to bring
      up healthy offspring, there are cultural differences but the base need is the same.

      Isn’t it strange that in the ad they deliberately try to advertise larger weights as attractive? In this
      case it is very clear they weren’t arguing for an acceptance of beauty, it was a shift in beauty. And yes one
      flaw is enough to deem someone unattractive by society, you don’t account for severity. If a mother has a
      scar on her stomach from childbirth hardly anyone will care. But if a woman has a large scar going across her face, most will say she is unattractive. Still one flaw, difference in severity.

      In this case the argument isn’t for society to judge how much the person has changed but the woman herself.
      It’s all about being able to live with yourself. If a woman goes from 500 pounds to 300 pounds, society still
      will not find her attractive but she will be damned proud of herself and she has the right to be. But let’s
      take your example with a woman with physical scarring. Well some people have the audacity to shrug it right
      off. If she truly doesn’t care then why would she change it? It doesn’t cause her bad health and she would
      in no way be considered lazy. While it is in her power to change it, the matter isn’t within reason because
      of the statements above. BUT, if that same woman hides from society, doesn’t go out in public, or cries
      every day to herself because the embarrassment caused by those scars, it is justifiably moral to get the
      corrective surgery.

      You’ll find that all of my arguments above are within reason and sound logic. Trust me on this, I myself lost
      a good deal of weight. Neither by accident nor on purpose, due to medical reasons. When I got the issue
      under control I could have continued the same lifestyle as before and go back to the same weight, but the
      new life I found was objectively better. I was less tired and had more energy, less anxiety, and better sense
      of self-esteem. This is not simply a “society sees” or “I see” matter. Both influence and affect each other
      to balance each other.

      Liked by 1 person

    • @luminathan, I agree with your well considered critique of the main article which though making some interesting ‘facts’ about the health effects of unhealthy body sizes still retains some societal misconceptions held mainly by individuals on the smaller sized bodies about big body sizes, e.g. such perceptions as that all big bodies are down to unhealthy diet. Understandably and rightly so, views about Lane Bryant’s motivation to align itself with an ongoing campaign will be scrutinised but I do not see anything wrong with the supplier targeting a market constituting 67%; it has to be noted too that Lane Bryant is not creating women of body sizes 14 – 34 but has only chosen to respect these women as they are – a decision that is morally right while economically sensible for the business. These women need to be dressed and be allowed to maintain a good level of emotional health while we consider the long-term health myths and realities associated with their sizes.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I think that you’re right on as regards facing up to the reality of the health consequences of obesity. Everyone should do take ownership of their health, which in many cases should start with choosing better food to eat. However, I can’t complain about the Lane Bryant campaign – it’s never a bad idea to look your best, and investing in yourself to that end may be the first step toward a positive outlook that will lead to other changes. Maybe the styles could be reworked with kale or broccoli motifs?

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    • That’s actually an interesting idea to make healthy eating the popular notion. Since of course it’s a struggle between unhealthy food companies and companies that promote wright loss, it would really just be which side the culture chooses at the time. But as always thank you for reading and commenting, it means a lot to me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Aww, shucks. It’s always easy to kibitz when the debate is framed so nicely.
        When I was in graduate school, I ran into a young lady who had ear-rings made out of circuit boards. She was advertising her faith in technology. I wonder if Lane Bryant would be willing to take their commitment to healthy self-image to the point of standing up to the unhealthy food companies by actually designing clothes that celebrated healthy eating.
        Or how about fast-food companies issuing special “healthy choice” club cards that encouraged people to try their low-fat/high-roughage menu items? You know, like “buy five healthful meals, get a greasy gut-bomb for free?”
        It’s late – my brain is slipping past out-of-the-box and into just plain silly…

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  5. Concerning “The first thing we have to consider is that a body type such as the one displayed in the ads, is not healthy nor is it ideal.”

    I watched the ad. Twice (I think I had seen it before as well). The women in the ad are not obese. They are young, healthy and voluptuous. For most of them, trying to fit into the mold of a typical model would be decidedly unhealthy.

    I will agree that there is a huge obesity problem in our country. We eat too many calories and don’t exercise. But it is pointless to put in front of young women impossibly thin bodies as the only example of a sexually desirable female form. These ads are an improvement to the generally impoverished landscape of commercial fashion.

    Just in case you are thinking that I am from a different planet, I offer for your consideration a vision of the female form from Peter Paul Rubens:
    http://www.peterpaulrubens.org/The-Three-Graces-1639.html

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I respect that you would write, and publish, this, knowing that you are treading on thin ice instead of internalizing the disdain you obviously feel for people you deem overweight. Had you kept quiet, that disdain would have one day revealed itself as hate and many, myself included, would have taken it as a personal attack.

    Firstly, someone has already applauded you for writing about a topic you might know nothing about, but I don’t believe that dictating to an entire demographic that you are not a part of and cannot relate to is not to be applauded. Even if you want to sympathize with the very real oppression that women — and in this case, “plus-sized” women — face, you are still very far from understanding it and why campaign like these exist and why they are so important.

    I think you misunderstand the relationship between weight and health. While I can’t quote a study or article off the top of my head, I will say that weight is not the sole factor that makes a person healthy or unhealthy — oftentimes, it’s not a factor at all. Also keep in mind that mental health is health too, so when you’re constantly bombarded by people’s opinions of your appearance to the point that it damages your mental health, what should be done then? Let’s just muster up that good ol’ willpower and not try to be depressed, anxious, anorexic, bulimic, or suicidal.

    I don’t even want to mention that it’s a problem that the mere fact that you believe the “plus-size” figure depicted in the Lane Bryant ad is unattractive and believe that to be true for all men, everywhere, is a reason at all for women to motivate themselves to be skinny or lose weight. Oops, I just did.

    As for the rest of the points in your post, I can only assume you feel this way as a reaction to something someone has said to you or the way you may have felt about yourself. Speaking from my own experience, when you have a damaged view of your own self worth because of your appearance not meeting the “accepted” standards, you don’t recognize your worth as an intellectual — or any other good thing about yourself because the anguish you feel overpowers it all. But when you release that anguish and begin to appreciate the body that you are living in, however big or small it may be, you also realize how important it is to take care of it. It’s much easier to take care of, and even to change and better, something that you have learned to love and accept than it is to do the same of something you are taught to hate.

    And yes, it sounds like I’m angry — that’s because I am a little angry. But I doubt I will take any of this back when I’m not angry.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your personal attack on my character would actually mean anything if you knew anything about my character. First of all, at what point do I express hatred or disdain towards overweight people? I’ve battled with weight issues the majority of my life and I’ve found confronting the issue brings more absolute results than superficially accepting the problem. If you think this was an attack on anyone you clearly missed the point. Further more, to think I would let any feelings toward a group swell into hatred is a childish judge of character.

      I have a fundamental understanding of the issue. For a long while I was considered obese, but while I’m a man this is still an issue. Are men not held up to the same standard? You’ll only see men with washboard abs on the cover of magazines or in advertisements yet you see no movement to move plus size men into the media. I know women still are attracted to those people but I saw no deep anguish from this because
      everyone accepts real world health despite media portrayal.

      As for the mental health aspect, this has been a very real struggle for me. Believe me when I say, with all confidence, accepting the matter is only a superficial solution. Just because the media begins to accept more plus size women in advertisements doesn’t mean people will begin to accept themselves. It is simply a defense mechanism. At a fundamental level it is an attempt to change the culture to fit the person instead of changing the person to fit the culture. Which is more realistic? This is not an issue that will change, nor will it be likely to change in the future.

      Again you show a deep misunderstanding of the argument. I clearly state that those women share the same hourglass shape that men find attractive, I then go on to explain the reason for this. Do I ever say those women are unattractive? If anything I claim they are attractive.

      As for your remarks about my own damaged view of myself or my past, I don’t even want to dignify that with an extended response. It is a pure childish response, and knowing absolutely nothing about me it was just a failed attempt.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ll accept being called childish and even for being called out on attacking your character while knowing anything about you, because I don’t know much about you. But you make it clear that you would deny people healthy body image and self-love until they have addressed the “problem” of their weight, that is what I take issue with. And no, a campaign that advocates for all people of all body types to learn to love themselves does not mean that all people of all body types will begin to do so, but it’s a step closer.

        Yes, men have issues of body image too and while they are of equal importance, and should also be addressed in body acceptance campaigns, they do not face the same standards that women do. Saying that everyone accepts real world health despite what is portrayed in the media is a gross generalization. Many people, especially youth, will experience the real world, often for the first time, entirely through portrayals of it in the media.

        Perhaps we misunderstand each other’s definitions of what the problem that you speak of is and what it means to “accept” it. When you reference a “problem” or the “matter” that needs to be addressed, any person will judge for themselves whether they have this problem because health is not so simply defined. A person’s mind — especially someone already struggling with their weight and, by extension, their body image — can twist the idea of health until “problem” becomes synonymous with “my body”, “myself”, “me”, and hating your weight quickly turns into hating yourself. This is why it can be so damaging to simply tell people to fix their weight problems when mental health plays a huge role. Making positive changes in your life, like I assume you want to encourage, is easier when you’re not constantly referring to yourself as a thing to be fixed. Do you agree with trying to motivate individuals to lose weight by telling them to hate themselves?

        With regards to “accepting” this problem, body acceptance isn’t about resigning yourself to carry on living as you already have, whether you are physically healthy or not, it’s about changing the way you perceive yourself and your body. More often than not, body acceptance campaigns stem from advocating for health — that health is possible at many sizes — and so you should strive for health because it is not defined by weight or size. I believe body acceptance can’t be left out of the equation when talking about issues of weight because it’s where, instead of pursuing health through hate, you value your body and pursue health through self-care. And again, I don’t know how you view yourself or anything about your journey, so I speak from my own experience when I say that body acceptance should not be exclusive to those who are accepted in society as being the “right” weight because a damaged body image affects more than just your ability to look yourself in the mirror, it affects your willpower and determination, both of which can be finite resources.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. This is truly one of the most ignorant posts I’ve ever read. I don’t even know where to begin, so I’ll just list off some things: first, not everyone who is overweight is unhealthy (something that is clear you have not done research on). Second, most women do not care if men find them desirable. Third, while it is true that many companies don’t truly care about their consumer, others do and will do whatever it takes to accurately represent and support their consumer. Fourth, Lane Bryant’s ads are not “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle,” they are promoting self-acceptance, something that fat people, specifically fat woman, struggle with. Fifth, you cannot tell people to just fix their problems if they’re suffering. That is irresponsible and harmful. Most people not have the resources to do that. And fixing your nails is not the same as curing depression. Sixth, if you really want to discuss issues of obesity, you need to start looking into the industries. You think we’re the second fattest country in the world by choice? Absolutely not. You think there is no correlation between food and poverty, and why lower-income people tend to be more obese? Your argument sounds like “if you don’t want to be poor, just don’t be poor.” Not only are your oversimplifying these things, you clearly do not understand them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I fail to believe that this is one of the most ignorant articles you’ve read, unless this is your first time reading. At what point do I make the generalization all overweight people are unhealthy? I understand skinny people can have just as many health issues. Women don’t care about desirability? I fail to believe that on the basis that all people, not just women, are extremely vain. Men are guilty of this as well. Are you telling me that the makeup industries, the diet industries, the clothing industries, and the reconstructive industries are as large as they are out of necessity? It is not good marketing that makes that happen.

      You claim it is irresponsible and harmful to encourage people to fix their problems, you bring up poverty as an example. I’ve dedicated much of my time to the issue of poverty and I deeply understand it, having faced it myself. Of course obesity is common among the lower class, but so was smoking and now look at the success of anti-smoking campaign. I realize people need comfort to face themselves, but why accept self-destructive behavior? Should we have said “It’s okay to smoke because it makes you feel better”? I realize that under our economic system poverty is inevitable, and while I can debate all day about how to fix that it isn’t the issue. People cannot simply fix being in poverty, but they working to lose weight is much simpler. At NO POINT do I say lower income people aren’t connected to obesity, you are just putting words in my mouth.

      As for something you seemed to be concerned about is the topic of depression caused by this anxiety. Trust me when I say self-acceptance is more of a superficial solution than it seems. Try arguing that allowing obesity is not self-destructive! There is a link between a parent’s obesity to their child’s obesity, this causes people depression for not only physical reasons but social reasons. Accepting the way you are does truly nothing. If a person is self-conscious about resorting to drug use to deal with their problems, do we support them to make themselves feel better? No, but the point is not to shame them either. We help people, that’s what we do. There are many cases when people should not feel good about themselves, because only then are people willing to get better. Yes in a perfect world everyone feels good about themselves and nobody is sad, but in the real world only out of sadness will people realize how to find their happiness. You may want everyone to feel good about themselves, but that is in no way the best thing for us.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thought provoking post. To add to discussion, some research suggests ‘BMI is not an accurate measure of fat’ and that some overweight people are more healthy than skinny folks. Link-http://www.livescience.com/39097-bmi-not-accurate-health-measure.html

    These models are quite pretty, and are firm enough in proportion to their extra weight. They probably get that muscle tone from working out regularly.

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  9. “A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
    ― Albert Einstein

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  10. What I find particularly sad is that most obesity in the industrialized world is due to an ill-advised 50 year campaign to promote the food pyramid and convince people they need to eat a low fat, high carbohydrate diet. The campaign has been promoted without a shred of authentic research (there’s a lot of junk science bought and paid for by Food Inc). All the legitimate research suggests that people are healthier on a low carb diet. Worse still high carbohydrate diets are strongly implicated in the current epidemic of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer – and Alzheimers, which a number of researchers have renamed type 3 diabetes. See http://stuartjeannebramhall.com/2015/02/12/why-the-low-fat-diet-makes-you-fat-and-gives-you-heart-disease-cancer-and-tooth-decay/ and http://stuartjeannebramhall.com/2015/08/12/the-role-of-western-medicine-in-the-epidemic-of-obesity-diabetes-and-heart-disease/

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  11. I honestly very much enjoyed this, one thing tho as a woman who fluctuates between 10 and 14 I think men should know. Those ads aren’t to attract you, they are to give woman an accurate idea of what the clothes will look like on them. When I see ads with rail thin woman I know those clothes WILL NEVER fit me because even when I was size 4 I had child bearing hips and DD boobs.

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  12. I found this post offensive. I had a chat with a friend once who was interested in exploring the lack of plus size women in the media etc. I responded by pointing out media is all about viewers and if you put plus size women on TV etc and the viewership decreases then it’s likely networks will simply find new faces and different body types. So I understand where you are coming from but in general I prefer sociological approaches to discerning our actions/choices as they explain the context our suppose nature exist in. Just look around the world and observe the different body types to realize how naïve it is to say men prefer x size women when there are so many examples of men loving and only wanting varying sizes of women.

    The failure of plus size women really depends on who is the face of it. This is only a problem in the western world where plus like women like Kim K, Christina Hendricks and a few others are considered desirable in the white mainstream media. I can’t think of a hot black, brown, etc plus size woman being treated as a sex symbol in the media.

    I think there are also advantages to being overweight like living longer than those who fit in the ideal weight category. Being plus size is not just obese who need help to stop over-eating. There are multiple other things that can be more harmful to your health than being overweight as it scores well in the ultimate rating which is mortality.

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  13. Congratulations on being politically incorrect. I applaud you LOUDLY.

    Two things to recognize here. The plus size image does come with health risks, but so does the waif look models that we ordinarily see. That is also unhealthy.

    The average HEALTHY woman in American should be wearing something between a size 5 and a size 14. Once you start getting into larger sizes than that, you probably are unhealthy, but unless you’re very young or a competitive ballet dancer, anything less than size 5 is probably also unhealthy. There are exceptions, of course, women who are very petite should have proportional body size to their height and women who are very tall might also wear somewhat larger sizes.

    I wouldn’t want my daughter to emulate either the standard-issue waif model or the plus size model. Neither is a healthy choice.

    The fact is that more than 50% of adult Americans are now considered overweight. Some of that is due to highly unrealistic government standards, but a lot of it is due to our inability to stop stuffing our faces or get up off the couch. To a certain extent, the waif model is the cause of our general obesity, because women yo-yo diet throughout their young years to meet that unrealistic standard (gotta be a size 1 if not a 0) and that eventually catches up to us when we can no longer lose weight at all. Giving us role models who look as out-of-shape and overfed as us just salves our body image problems. What we really need is real women who are toned and not overweight as our role models, but we’re not offered that.

    What’s the solution to that?

    Turn off the TV and put the magazines down. Find out what the government says is a healthy weight for our height, add about 10 pounds to that, and set the 10 pounds above that as our ideal weight. Then burn more calories than we eat until we are in that zone and keep doing that throughout our lives. No special diets needed and you hardly feel any guilt about your body image when you are not paying attention to what the media says your body image ought to be.

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  14. I think my main issue with this topic is the assumption written in that women are worth objectifying at all (or any person for that matter). What Lane Bryant is doing is similar to what companies did in France in the 1920’s; capitalistic gain under the guise of emancipation. Health (holistic or solely of the body elements) isn’t necessarily attached to a body type/build. “Skinny fat” became a really big issue when I was a teen, thanks to the Heroine Chic body type idealized in the 1990s. Instead of trying to mold people by body type it makes more sense to empower informed choices, which will naturally have statistic variation, and not everyone is going to opt for what is currently referred to by “healthy”. Have you seen the documentary The Century of Self? It kinda fits with this topic; I found it interesting.

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  15. On the one hand, I appreciate that it took guts to say something that’s not politically correct. On the other hand though, did you look at the models you were talking about before writing this?

    The standards for a model, even a plus-sized one, are super rigid. There’s a really small range of heights–and I’m just talking height here–that are accepted for models. My mom knew a woman who wanted to be a short model. She was 5ft 4. She soon found out that a “short” model is several inches taller than that. Models are expected to be above average height and as thin as possible when it comes to weight.

    The models in this ad, like most plus-sized models, are pretty average looking women weight wise. They definitely aren’t fat. Just by looking at the ad you can see that this is not glorifying obesity by any means. They don’t even have fat rolls or noticeable dimples. Whether that’s real or the result of professional makeup, photography, and what have you, I don’t know, but if you asked me about the weight of those women, I’d describe them as average, not skinny or fat.

    While I think you’re correct that this company is taking advantage of a social movement to do some advertising, I really don’t think that it’s logical to assume that portraying people who aren’t thin as a rail as beautiful is glorifying obesity or discouraging overweight people from taking their health seriously.

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  16. Best line in the entire article: “And now for something that people often make excuses for. Trading off looks for intellectualism is no true trade.” yes.
    Society places such importance on superficial qualities, it’s just sickening. It doesn’t really matter what anyone looks like ~ we are all conditioned to feel bad about ourselves in some way no matter what! That’s what capitalism is all about.. keep playing us and gaining more dough.
    While I agree that people need to maintain their health, it’s also true that people come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, genetically.( Just sayin’!)
    Bless your way for having the balls to write and publish this article. You clearly elicited a myriad range of emotions/ reactions. That means that most importantly you did what (I think) you set out to accomplish: you got people thinking. That’s definitely worth something 🙂

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  17. I understand where you’re coming from with your argument, but I think there was studies done that linked body positivity to healthier lifestyles. I would have to look up the specifics for you but what they found was that overweight people who accepted their bodies were more likely to engage in healthy activities and thus end up taking on healthier lifestyles and losing weight. I think there is some benefits to having this campaign despite the body type they are trying to promote

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  18. Really interesting take on this issue. I’m not comfortable with the “fat-shaming” revolution. i firmly believe that we should not judge other people or tell them what’s best for them, but I can’t help agreeing with you that we are promoting an unhealthy way of life. Everyone is different. We have different shapes, faces, backgrounds…I’d like us all to accept each other for what we are today. If you want to change, that’s great. If you don’t, well, that’s totally up to you and that’s cool with me. I applaud you taking a stand on this and writing about it. I’m sure it’s not a popular point of view. You made me think though. Thanks!

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  19. I have a doctorate in clinical nutrition and believe me, you are correct, except for the wide hips. Narrow hips are evidence of youth without previous childbearing. Being overweight presents significant health risks across the spectrum of diseases, in every case.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Having been 200 lbs and now slimmer than average, I totally agree with your honest answer. It is not good to be fat, for ourselves, the next generation or society. Dove had a similar campaign when there products are not quite as perfect as they suggest – nor do most women want to look natural. That said, it is really difficult to lose weight in this world and we should be critical of those making it even harder not the victims. I recently wrote about vanity sizing – even I prefer it when I fit into a size 2 when I know I am a 4/6. Great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I enjoyed reading this post. It was thought provoking. I’ve also enjoyed reading every comment.

    I’m fairly small and I have written about my experiences in an earlier post. I’ve received comments relating to my eating habits and questioned about whether I might be eating enough at all. These comments were made by people that were acquaintances. They had no knowledge of what I ate or how much (typically around 3,500 calories a day) but felt it necessary to criticise me. The very same people that asked for help when they wanted to lose weight.

    Defining health is always going to be controversial but it is not simply an absence of disease.

    If I was 3 stone heavier, I’d struggle to run around, life heavy weights, climb tress, be active all day long. I’d become depressed because of my inactivity, related to my weight gain and so the cycle begins. There isn’t a simple cure-all but our society makes it all too easy to feed our faces. I’m certain that if people had to hunt for their food, butcher and prepare it, they’d not be worrying about being overweight.

    As I said at the start of my comment, it’s thought provoking and a great point for discussion.

    Yes, I think it’s important to feel desired by the opposite sex or the same sex for that matter.

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  22. I think you just wrote what everyone else knows deep down. It would offend someone who is sized like me. But it is how you look at this article. I could take this as an attack on fat people or I could look at it as someone giving me the bitter medicine and try to reach a healthy weight. I choose to do the latter. Someone has to tell the truth. You just did it. I am not saying that I completely agree with all of it. Because no two people can do that. But I see where you’re coming from.

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