Love the skin you’re in

Unless the skin you’re in is skinny, of course…

As I was reading the various news sites that I frequent (some for news, some for laughs), I came across another “big is beautiful” type article, and remembered that I had been meaning to post about the subject for a long time. Now seems as good a time as any.

This article in, yes that’s right, the Daily Mail, is what reminded me that I wanted to blog. The article is a self serving puff piece, even more so than usual, since the author is writing about herself.

The title sets the stage for an all to familiar argument – “Alice is beautiful, confident, and the average size of a woman in Britain today…so why does she still feel fat?” I could dash off a quick comment that said she still feels fat because she actually is fat, but that wouldn’t do the article justice when there’s really so much more to it.

The article is a glowing review of life as a “bigger” person, complete will all the usual adverbs – curvy, big and beautiful, etc. However, while most articles merely imply that skinny girls must be starving or dysfunctional, this one comes right out and says it, with choice phrases such as “I look at skinny women and wonder how they can live in such denial. It is not possible to be thin and enjoy food.

I despise articles like this because of exactly that kind of rhetoric. I suppose that I would be considered one of those skinny girls living in denial. After all, I do slip into size 6-8 clothes with little trouble. I also train hard every day to make sure that I still can. I watch what I eat, but I never starve (as anyone who knows me can attest to, I don’t do well when hungry!). I love to cook, to bake, and I experiment in the kitchen quite often – whipping up some sort of dessert or some new dinner based on what’s in the fridge, and I manage to do so without putting on so much weight (unlike the author).

The “average” woman may be getting bigger, but being a “wobbly size 18″ isn’t a step forward in women’s liberation, it’s a health risk. The simple fact of the matter is that it’s not healthy to be overweight. It places increased strain on all of your organs. It puts you at risk for a number of conditions, such as diabetes, heart attack, high cholesterol, etc.

If you really want to be a role model, if you really want to make a difference to women, then why not try doing something that includes all women, not just those that have to shop at plus-size shops. How about campaigning for a consistent size scale across all clothes shops, so that I can go and shop for jeans that are W 28″ L 28”, instead of picking up a 4, 6, and 8 because there’s no telling what any size will be in most shops? Or how about campaigning for some consistency in the existing size numbers, so that a size 6 would be a 6, no matter what shop you’re in?

I understand that you want to be proud of your body, but if you respect yourself and your body, you should look after it. It’s like any other piece of equipment you own – it needs maintenance, and the right fuel to get along. If you don’t fill it with the right stuff, and don’t keep it in tip-top condition, it will break down. And, unfortunately, it’s not as easy to find a new heart as it is to find a new wing mirror.

It seems to me that this average woman is as elusive a beast as the mythical unicorn. I have heard women of all shapes and sizes complain that they can’t find clothes to fit. There may be shops that cater exclusively to plus size women, but I find that I’m often reduced to shopping in the children’s department of big clothing stores such as M&S simply to find clothes that will fit without alteration. The “average woman” must truly have the pick of the litter when it comes to clothes shopping though, since apparently all shops cater to her. I can only hope that, in time, someone with enough influence will manage to change the way clothes are sized so that I can find clothes that look mature and fit well.

The point is this – it’s great that you feel happy about your body, but why does feeling good about being big and curvy have to be inextricably linked with being better than someone who is skinny? It doesn’t have to be this way.

If you want to be a role model, then show people how to be healthy and curvy – it’s possible to be both. Show people that skinny girls can be curvy too. And for goodness sake, lay off of the skinny-bashing!