Posted Oct 10, 2011 in Hot Spots | 4 Comments

Food For Thought: This Petite Ponders Plus-Size

Amidst the endless stream of assignments and lecture notes, I managed to stumble upon an interesting post in a local gym here in Halifax. Instead of the usual energy drink ad or some fabulous photo of someone ripped, I found myself staring at and into the numerous curves and crooks of Tara Lynn hunched in a straw chair with a curvy-friendly slogan I can’t remember for the life of me.

It was a magazine clipping, I discovered from Elle France. Behind the numerous spectators and PC (politically correct) kids proclaiming the image’s integrity, I wondered what exactly was the point of cheering on this curvy lush image.

I thought about the many ads that were pro-exercise, campaigning against inactivity and declaring war on the obesity epidemic which has taken a huge toll on North Americans. Then, I thought about the outrageous proportions plaguing the fashion industry and the greater media.

Seriously, which way are we leaning towards?

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that a healthy body weight promotes healthy living and there are finer angles than the extremes.

Being a petite person, I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my weight often thinking I didn’t measure up to the standard of my age range in height, pounds and clothing size. Asking around campus and talking amongst fellow models, the whole aesthetic turned out to be a huge issue and it turned out people weren’t as happy or confident as they seemed.

“You think I’m beautiful? Thanks! I never really thought of myself like that.”

“I never thought I’d get into modeling because everyone is so gorgeous!”

“I always felt like I never measured up to everyone else here. Like, they’re all so pretty.”

When I asked them why they felt the way they did, they all pretty much said the same thing. It was either an issue of feeling like they didn’t meet the aesthetic standards of having a thin waistline, essentially flawless skin, or a buxom bustline.

On the other hand, many plus sized girls I spoke to shared the same qualms about themselves but were less inclined to assume some responsibility. The models I spoke to blamed their “shortcomings” or failure meet their aesthetic standards on something they failed to do but, the plus sized girls I spoke to were nonchalant…and well, pretty cool about it.

“I am who I am and the fact is, I’m not afraid to stuff my face when I’m hungry. I don’t care if I’m a little curvy, I’m not gonna starve myself just to be ‘pretty’.”

“I think the problem is really with the media because a lot of what they put out there just isn’t healthy and yeah, obesity is an issue and people need to exercise, but we’ve got to realistic.”

“I know I’m beautiful on the inside even if people might think I’m not beautiful on the outside. I’ve got a good job and some great friends and life isn’t about keeping up appearances.”

I wasn’t all that surprised by their responses and a lot of what they said was true. Life isn’t about keeping up appearances and beauty is something that can be measured inside and out.

But, I still can’t help but feel that this “curvy” and “plus-size” hype is essentially perpetuating an unhealthy lifestyle. It’s one thing to be bodacious and true to yourself but, it’s quite another to be unhealthy. The Body Mass Index (BMI) and nutrition guides serve the purpose of promoting healthy eating and exercise, and if you find you’re over the limits of your prescribed measurements according to the BMI, maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to hit the treadmill or take the stairs for a while. I got the same sentiments from the curvier girls I talked to because even though they raised great points about the media and the superficialities of what we might consider “beautiful”, they all agreed that health comes first and foremost. At the end of our conversations, they all expressed resolutions for losing weight by healthier eating and incorporating more exercise into their schedules.

That’s not to say models like Tara Lynn aren’t a bad thing. I think it’s great that the industry has considered and entertained prospects of plus-sized models because everyone deserves to feel beautiful.

But, the stark reality is that the world isn’t polite to people who go against niches.

For further reading, calculate your BMI here.

And, check out Canada’s Food Guide here.

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  1. Hi there,

    I don’t usually comment (being a fellow yK writer myself), but I found this article so disturbing that I don’t really feel that I have a choice.
    First, your reliance on the BMI as a way to measure overall healthiness is lazy and shows a ridiculous lack of research. The body mass index has severe limitations and is an incredibly heuristic way of judging who is overweight, mainly because it only takes into account height and weight and therefore cannot make any differentiation between muscle mass and fat.

    Medical inaccuracies aside, it’s outrageous that this website would allow such a blatantly fat-phobic piece of writing to be published. This article does nothing but expose the writer’s bigotry and sizeism. Since you can’t possibly tell how healthy a person is by looking at them, judging how “healthy” they are without being a medical professional is nothing more than a judgement fuelled by this fallacious notion that skinny is healthy, and fat is unhealthy. Obviously this does not apply to cases of extreme obesity, but to talk to women who seem comfortable with their size and denigrate them for it instead of celebrating the fact that in this culture (that puts forward such an unattainable beauty standard) there actually are women capable of self-esteem strikes me as extremely misguided.

    This article is harmful. It perpetuates the myth that the only healthy body is a skinny body, and this is especially concerning given that this is a fashion website. The fashion industry is one of the worst environments in terms of body acceptance, and the huge amount of industry professionals who have spoken out against the eating disorder-riddled fashion world attests to how toxic this “skinny at all costs” mentality is. Reading a brief biography of model Crystal Renn is as good a place to start as any.

    The point is that everyone’s ideal healthy weight is different. For some it’s bigger, and for others it’s smaller. You as an individual have absolutely no right to make a value judgement based on someone’s appearance. What you’re doing is shaming people for the way they look, and that, to me, is cruel and absolutely intolerable.

  2. About 2 or 3 lines into your comment, I realized that I need to be more specific to the point of intellectual excruciation in asserting the points of my works. This piece is and WAS not intended to insult or devolve plus-size cultures or critique people who do not conform to the aesthetic norm. Rather, I pondered the ideologies surrounding plus-size people and models and the eccentrics of the media in perpetuating unreasonable expectations of beauty.

    No, a healthy body is NOT always a skinny body and I fail to see how you could come to that conclusion herein. The BMI serves a mere guideline to a healthy weight and there are numerous disclaimers (maybe I should have specified that but I assumed whomever thought to refer to it would comprehend the sheer simplicity of that concept) stating that it serves only as a basis and not a finite number.

    Yes, there are numerous other things taken into account when the issue of one’s health comes into play including bone mass, genetics and so forth therefore we are unique and have individually suited health specs for our personal well-being however, that’s not to say the guidelines are just floating around out there, futile entities fluttering amidst the nation’s health database for no apparent reason.

    If you stop to think about things rationally as opposed to jumping to the oh so familiar offense of accusing anything that does not blatantly embrace the plus-size, you’d see that I don’t have some skinny superiority complex but rather am speculating on the ideologies surrounding beauty and what it means from both ends of the spectrum.

    Like I said, the world is not polite to people who do not fit into niches. There is nothing to be gained from assuming one of two extremes but a collective agreement and recognition of some middle ground in terms of what is considered healthy and what ACTUALLY is healthy.

    I applaud every single person I spoke to for their input.

    Shaming people on for the way they look? Have you not read the article?

    The core concept of the argument was establishing that there are different degrees and curvacious complexities regarding health and one’s overall self-concept and the devolution of anything that goes against the “norm”, a faulty aesthetic precedent set by the mass media.

    I apologize to anyone who might have taken offense but, I honestly assumed that the audience was intelligent enough to speculate further on the matter of the media and the concept of health as opposed to regarding this piece as something “fat-phobic”.

    I didn’t and don’t expect anyone to regard what I say as some profession of an ultimate truth but, merely as a catalyst for further questions to ponder in fashion and contemporary thinking.

    I have often heard the saying, “I am truth, therefore I am cruel.” As a person, I hold true to my beliefs and expressing what may or may not have crossed my mind in regards to particular topics such as this one.

  3. fat is fat it’s no way around it. I’ve never met anyone who desired to be huge.

  4. You can’t say “fat”, Bougie.

    We have to distinguish and specify the meaning of “overweight” or “unhealthy” or “morbidly obese”.

    We have to be painfully politically correct in our terminology for people like Lys here who have not yet grasped the concept of epistomological or figurative meanings…or simply take the offense without any reasonable insight. So, in other words, Sarah Palins.

    She’s got a single profile upholding the positivity of curves (which I don’t and haven’t ever had a problem with) whilst I’ve got six people to draw from, a sound mind and friends of shapes and sizes.

    I thought back to this post after I saw A Few Good Men (1992) when I was looking at the cross-examination scene between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. Jack plays a douchey colonel with a serious superiority complex in this film and says that his soldiers are upstanding and obey orders but he also states that he put in a transfer order for the victim for the victim’s safety–Tom then points out the contradiction: if your soldiers are honourable and obey orders, why would the victim be in trouble of harm from them?

    I’m not going to ruin the movie but, I got to thinking about Lys’s opening where she stated she was a “fellow blogger” then went on to devolve the integrity and overall leadership of the site for allowing my post to be published. It really makes you realize how shockingly morose people can be when confronted with or stumbling upon an alternative take on things and the implication of a gross inability to attribute the essence of an argument. The asinine audacity of insulting the credibility of this fantastic site whilst establishing blogging for it is baffling and quite uncalled for. If you’ve got a problem with me, then express it towards my part but, don’t go and play the anarchist card and discredit the entire establishment.

    Besides, anarchy lost its appeal back in the 1970s.

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