Embracing vs celebrating

Sunday, May 27, 2012 Permalink

Today’s post has changed its tone several times. What what you’re about to read is actually quite different to the original draft.

I’ve been feeling kind of torn you see…. in a overanalysing, ‘am I a bad person?’ kind of way!

I recently started following an online magazine on Facebook and Twitter. Plus Model Magazine is an plus-size fashion magazine. And… I have no problem with the magazine itself. In fact, as someone who doesn’t fit into ‘normal-sized’ clothes, I’m all for promoting plus-sized fashion or more opportunities and acceptance for those with bigger-bodies-than-is-the-norm. But…

I’m drawn back to the age-old question of whether those of us who are overweight should be embracing OR celebrating our overweight bodies.

In December last year I wrote about this very issue because at the time the media were challenging a couple of high-profile personalities who’d always claimed to be ‘okay’ with their bodies, but subsequently lost a significant amount of weight. In that post I contemplated the difficulty larger role models have: do they confess they’re unhappy with their bodies (and possibly their lives); or do they put on a brave face and claim self-love and acceptance!? I had no answer. Obviously!

Because of the time difference (here in Oz) my morning Facebook feed is full of Plus Model Magazine pics on my timeline when I wake up each morning. And – this is where it gets murky – I must confess that sometimes it’s a wake-up call in more ways than one. Unlike many fashion labels the magazine doesn’t only use slightly-overweight (or women of normal weight – but bigger than the size 0) models in its features. Indeed sometimes, the models are quite buxom. And here’s where my dilemma kicks in. While I don’t believe in criticising anyone for their weight issues or blaming them for larger-than-the-norm bodies; I’m also not sure that we shouldn’t aspire to be as healthy as we can be. Note that I’m not saying that someone overweight can’t be healthy, cos I don’t believe that’s the case. I’m sure there’s MANY a healthy overweight, or even slightly/moderately obese person out there; as there are many unhealthy thin or slim people who have unhealthy habits or avoid exercise.

I know there are a lot of people who still celebrate anorexia and thinness at all costs; just as there are those who worship very large bodies (Feeders and the like). Each to his own I guess.

And here’s where my dilemma gets even more complicated: it occurred to me that I AM  judging these women. I’m the one thinking they’re bigger than they should be. (Me of all people!!!) So then I ponder on the fact that my reaction is exacerbated because I’m so anesthetized to thin models that even normal models look strange; let alone plus-sized models! Worse still…. then I start wondering WTF I’m actually doing even thinking about this!? I mean, don’t women of ANY size deserve nice clothes? And… who do I think is going to model them? Women of normal weight strutting about as plus-sized models? (Which is so often the case AND which is why when I put the same outfit on it looks horrendously different than it did in the catalogue!)

In my December blog post I talked about the media and humanity’s enthusiasm to judge and belittle. (As you’ve just witnessed from me!) Indeed, having returned from my mother’s with some women’s magazines I’m again horrified.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This (above) is the same magazine two weeks apart. How on earth can we win?! But… I can’t blame the media as we all love to feed on this stuff. I’m as bad as anyone in eating up the ‘Stars Without Makeup’ articles. It’s true: I love that they too can look like crap because that MUST mean that I too could possibly – with professional makeup – look like them! Doesn’t it? Surely? I suspect we like pictures of celebrities’ cellulite for the same reason!

This caption was in an article celebrating curves!?!

I haven’t included any of the Plus Model Magazine pictures that I’m talking about because I don’t want to single any of the models out as being (what I perceive to be) bigger than (what I believe) they should be. Confusing much? Yes, I am a bitch, but not THAT much of a bitch!

I suspect I’m just using this post as a sounding board or a confessional. As a bigger girl I’ve long angsted over my body. On the whole I dislike it quite a lot. But slowly and surely I’m also trying to remind myself that I am still a worthy human being and there are a lot of things I do well and a lot I have to offer the world… AND I should be able to achieve all of this while wearing stylish clothes of my choice!

Let's hope Kourt's not feeling self-conscious about her pregnant body!

 

I think it’s wonderful that (more and more) we bigger-than-the-norm girls are getting the opportunity to look great – in my case – WHILE I am still on that ‘journey’ to be healthier and more like the person I want to be. Seeing others being less self-conscious and embracing their less-than-perfect bodies is a wonderful thing and incredibly inspiring. So why the hell do I view some of these models (in my Facebook timeline) as ‘promoting’ unhealthy body images? They’re just providing a ‘service’ because the reality is there are many women (myself included) who need to be able to see how certain clothes might look on their own bodies.

So… it seems I’ve reversed my opinion which means I’m faced with yet another dilemma. Could I be accused of being two-faced – because I have also been known to judge too-thin models and suggest that they set a bad example.

Argh! I just wonder if there’s sometimes a difference between embracing curves and non-perfection and celebrating unhealthiness. While we should ‘accept’ ourselves however we are; perhaps by being overly content we miss the opportunity to be all that we could be.

I hope you haven’t been reading this thinking I’d get to some conclusion at the end. I suspect it’s impossible because there is no right answer. (And I’m just musing out loud. Or online as the case may be!)

Faarck! All of this on top of my new ‘not-dieting’ approach. Talk about contradictions! I’m a walking women’s magazine!

 

 

16 Comments
  • Miz
    May 27, 2012

    you nailed it too. I think we are all in some wayshapeandform a walking woman’s magazine.
    these days mine is the DONT WORK!! BE YOUR KIDS EVERYTHANG!!! versus WORK WORK! YOU NEED TO HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF KIDS AND BE A ROLEMODEL!! (yes none of this includes the fact I need money :-))

    there are never any answers here.
    just an answer which works well for each day.

    • Debbish
      May 27, 2012

      So true! I guess the magazines have to fence-sit so they cater to everyone and don’t insult anyone… but by doing so – they do just that!!! It’s confusing. Even when we know better. I roll my eyes at these articles and the captions, but they still affect me and frustrate me (even though I DO know better!!!).

      I suspect there’s something to be said for us being ‘authentic’ (whatever that means to us!).

      Deb
      x

  • Nikki @ Styling You
    May 27, 2012

    I think the hardest thing for women to do is to embrace and celebrate our bodies as they are today – even if we’re trying to change the shape of them – because that should be ok too. I am currently doing a quite radical diet to hopefully re-set the stupid hormones in my body that have been mucked up by 14plus years of a thyroid condition. I’m worried about blogging about it as it’s such a personal thing if someone decides to lose weight or change their shape through diet and exercise. I’m doing it for my health.

    • Debbish
      May 28, 2012

      I notice Lou Lou picks up on this as well, but I also like the focus on your ‘health’ – although having said that, I must confess that I’m less about my health and way too much about the aesthetics! (Shallow gal that I am – when it comes to me and my body!!!!)

      Deb

  • Lou Lou
    May 28, 2012

    I think Nikki has a great point there, when she mentiones the word health. It would be better to discuss these issues in terms of health, not what your size. It’s no good celebrating a plus plus plus size women who is a walking heart attack waiting to happen/a skinny minny rat of thing who is so thin they are not even menstruating etc Loved the women’s mag cover, you gotta laugh at that crazy stuff. P.S I wasn’t asked to be the next editor of Australian Vogue, can you believe it?

    • Debbish
      May 28, 2012

      I’m shocked that neither you nor I were approached Lou Lou. When I was at the hairdresser’s on Friday my hairdresser automatically gave me the WHO Weekly mags etc rather than Vogue etc because she knows I like the gossip and trash. It’s like the train wreck scenario… those magazines frustrate me but I just can’t help myself. I’d never buy them but I like looking at them.

      Between my mum and her neighbour they get several each week (Woman’s Day, New Idea, New Weekly etc). My mother used to save them all for me and leave them with me after a visit. But I recently told her I just wanted the New Weeklys. I didn’t want to read stories about stuff, I really just look at the pictures – and NW is best for that. (I sound like someone who reads Playboy!) Although I must confess, it’s the captions that piss me off. You don’t need many words to do harm – a few is enough!

      Deb

  • Jennifer
    May 28, 2012

    Great post.

    Often, I find myself pondering the same dilemma. I think part of the problem stems from the misconceptions that are attached to the word “health”. Generally speaking, health is associated with things like being a “normal” weight, eating well and exercising. Unfortunately many “normal” weight individuals don’t do any of these things while some larger people may do all these things and still be unable to achieve a weight that is considered ideal. Having said that, I know first hand what being overweight can do to a persons health in the long run. My mother was diagnosed and nearly died from type 2 diabetes. My mother is now a normal weight after years and years of struggle with the scale. Unfortunately, she developed a weight related chronic disease although she was considered “healthy” when she was younger and overweight.

    If the reality was that being overweight can also be healthy both today and then in the future then I would be a-ok with plus sized models not only modeling clothing but also advocating self love and acceptance. However the reality is not as simple as this. Being overweight may not interfere with your health today but eventually it will catch up to you which, is precisely why I’ve embarked on a journey to reach an optimal weight through healthy eating and exercise.

    • Debbish
      May 28, 2012

      Great attitude Jennifer!!!

  • Liz@LastChanceTraining
    May 28, 2012

    HI Deb,
    I think it’s a case of putting forward the ‘best you’ no matter what size you are. Are you doing things to improve your health more than not. I think that’s what really counts 🙂
    xx

    • Debbish
      May 29, 2012

      Hopefully I am Liz…. (trying to do things to improve my health!!!).

      Deb

  • Satu
    May 28, 2012

    Ha! I think life is just one godawful mess – and thinking may not make it any better! I can recognize myself in what you write (in every role) and I also want to wear nice clothes now that I’m plump yet work for weight loss at the same time.

    I’ve heard many people and bloggers say you have to accept your body before you can lose weight. I haven’t yet figured out how to really accept my body as it is right now, because there seems to be no concrete guidelines to follow. It’s a bit like intuitive eating.

    • Debbish
      May 29, 2012

      So true Satu. It’s a fine line between accepting your body and being content and doing nothing about it I think…. It’s funny, because even though I say I hate rules and regulations (when it comes to life and dieting etc), when you mention guidelines I realised that’s what I’m wanting!)

  • Marion
    May 28, 2012

    Hi Deb! Well, we women really play mind games with ourselves. It is often so refreshing to listen to the weightlifter guys who never want to be skinny! They want to be lean and muscle-y. They might need to “drop” some weight, but it doesn’t define them. I personally have done much better by focusing on the actual fitness endeavor at the moment rather than an overall fantasy goal.

    I had 3 homecoming queen cousins. They looked better than me when weighing more than me, or even having a cold and a red nose! Not fair for looks, but I’ve had a happier life than all of them.

    😉 Marion

    • Debbish
      May 29, 2012

      So lovely to hear Marion! And you and Satu are both right – thinking (or overthinking) doesn’t help. Damn our dastardly minds!

      I know men who don’t seem to suffer from the same body image angst! I wonder if there are women out there who don’t?!?

  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    May 30, 2012

    I think this is a great example of where we can apply “both/and” thinking verus “either/or” thinking. As you said (re the plus-sized models): “do they confess they’re unhappy with their bodies (and possibly their lives); or do they put on a brave face and claim self-love and acceptance!?” How about both? And how about the concept that TRUE self-love and acceptance LEADS to healthier habits and weight loss (if that is, indeed, part of a healthier body for some). The whole self-acceptance movement has been turned into an “us versus them” thing of extremes…those who supposedly accept themselves are fat and unhealthy and those who don’t are thin and healthy (they “fight” for it).

    Another thing: I think there’s also a huge disconnect between the “official” airbrushed/photoshopped photos of “celebs” where they look perfect, and then the “real” photos where they are caught without their makeup or wearing frumpy clothes…and they haven’t “let themselves go”, it’s just a bad angle without the right lighting (and makeup, and photoshop, etc.)

    • Debbish
      May 30, 2012

      So true Karen… all a poor celebrity needs is a photo on a bad angle and they’re pregnant or drunk etc…

      I’m starting to suspect more and more that in order to do something about my body I need to be motivated by more than self-hatred or body-image issues. I need to value myself and my body more!!!

      Deb

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