healthy shape

XPosted to We’ve Arrived! And other such myths.

Tamara de Lempicka

Tamara de Lempicka

The other day I lamented during a radio show that it’s impossible for a woman to just be.  It seems the women I know and hear about are either overweight, watching their weight, dieting, getting in shape, laboriously counting calories or carbs, or nipping and tucking.  Other measures of vanity toward the almighty feminine are included in this concern, but of particular interest to me right now is health and body size.

Health and Body Size: the official preoccupation of women.  Even when we consider fat pride in contradiction to Western beauty standards, we are still talking about perimeters of body size.  And when we try to shift the conversation away from inches and pounds towards health and body pride, there remain complications.  Like the fact that we can’t seem to embrace ‘health’ or ‘body pride’.

Among the many, my most rage inciting encounter recently was while watching Julie Louise Dreyfus on Ellen.  Dreyfus was recently on the cover of Shape, which seems to want to be a magazine about ‘healthy’ lifestyles.  When asked by Ellen how she kept in such good shape, Dreyfus claimed to not really work out but  run sometimes and of course, heavily restrict food before the photo shoot.  I was so mad I punched a throw pillow.  

Magazine covers of healthy lifestyle magazines are often photos of fit, not necessarily famous people.  They showcase to the reading and passing public the epitome of good shape in many instances and, of course, subconsciously suggest that  we too will look like that if we buy the magazine.  Though after hearing Dreyfus’ interview, what I suspected all along about lifestyle magazines promoting health turns out to be true.  That is, they showcase bodies that are either unattainable or attainable only through drastic, sometimes lethal, unhealthy methods, despite being healthy lifestyle magazines. 

So the healthy body that just bes is hard to come across in media, but the proud, unapologetic body is even harder.  One of my fav people(<3), Beth Ditto of The Gossip (<3), once posed nude for NME.  But as you will see if you click the link, despite being what would likely be considered obese, there is not a dimple of cellulite on her, pointing quite obviously to airbrushing out of ‘flaws’.  It doesn’t make me punch anything, but it still makes me mad…and sad…

Even real, healthy bodies are obviously flawed. Why can’t we just deal with it? And also, I need better language than ‘flawed’ for this connotes a perfection from which to stray.  Booooo! ( I blame the patriarchy).

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4 Comments

Filed under rant.

4 responses to “healthy shape

  1. I also feel sad about the Beth Ditto airbrushing. Although, to be fair, since every magazine cover is airbrushed it’d be unreasonable to expect either Ditto or the magazine to waive it this time. And maybe it would smack of double standards. Because she’s fat, does that mean she has to stand up for all fat people and cellulite too? Or is it more helpful to see the cover in terms of ‘just another person’ on it, who happens to be fat? I don’t know. I’m torn.

    • Ashley Bushfield

      me too! I am so torn on this one, really. But overall my feeling is that we oughta just accept the real beauty of real people, and not in a Dove commercial kind of way. If there wasn’t so much shame surrounding women’s bodies, I couldn’t care less what was on magazines. But everyone once in a while, it would be really nice to see a nice glossy photo of some beautiful women with stretch marks, pimples, scars, and cellulite. The task is in convincing advertisers and marketing masters that while their airbrushed perfection may sell, the beauty of reality may sell their well established brand by now. Or start our own counter-culture mainstream media….

  2. The Julie Dreyfus story is pretty sad. Health should be more important than shallow outside beauty. I read an article recently about how the connection between weight and health is not as clear-cut as many people think. Depending how you look at it, large people can be as healthy or healthier than smaller people, and it’s often not diet alone that determines a person’s size. And from an evolutionary perspective, beauty should be an indication of health; we’ve somehow gotten to a point where it may be the opposite, with unhealthy obsessive skeletonism (is that a word?) considered beautiful in a lot of media.

    I’m always skeptical of blaming the patriarchy though. Especially nowadays, when males are subject to a lot of the same pressures.

    • Ashley Bushfield

      The patriarchy has never been above putting pressures on men. The image and health issues that tend to affect men surround power and machismo, which is a tool of the patriarchy as much as the diminutism demanded of women is. I don’t talk much about men’s issues as I am not a man and therefore don’t feel well-founded in my observations, but men’s issues tend to prove the working of the patriarchy, in my mind.

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