“I like ’em round and big, and when I’m throwing a gig I just can’t help myself. I’m actin’ like an animal, now here’s my scandal.” -Sir Mix-A-Lot
Fashion magazines show the “ideal” female as ridiculously skinny, and hordes of young girls growing up buy into this vision of what they need to look like. Look at the runway models and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Kate Moss was the epitome of this type of “beauty” in the ’90s, with her severe looks and her angular body. And don’t get me wrong, some women are born like that, concave instead of convex. There’s nothing wrong with looking that way when it’s natural, when you’re not starving yourself to make that a reality, robbing your body of much needed nutrients in order to look like that “ideal.” Let’s look deeper into why that image exists in the first place.
In the middle ages there was what I refer to as the Botticelli ideal, where images of women showed them to be voluptuous goddesses with curves to spare, and they looked natural, beautiful, content in themselves. That’s because while men may not have valued women for their brains in that time period, they did value a warm, full body to come to bed to every night. It was cold back then, and so many of the people lived without proper heat, so a full-sized woman helped out a lot. Seriously, though, both men and women realized then the ludicrous nature of the “starving woman.” If you were starving then you were probably homeless and didn’t have access to good food, and that wasn’t seen as desirable at all. So what changed?
Here’s why skinny girls can’t win in our society:
- They never think they’re skinny enough
- Most aren’t born with the body type so they do what it takes to get there
- Those who are born with the body type are judged for it
- People tear down others instead of lifting them up
- While this “ideal” is still espoused by many women, more and more men want that Botticelli ideal
That’s really the crux of the matter, isn’t it? What we value has shifted, or at least it’s not the same across the board. I saw this very interesting visual that showed what women want to look like, what women do look like, and what men prefer women to look like, and it was very telling. The stick-thin woman on the visual was the epitome of what it said women want to look like, and the size-12 woman on the opposite end of the visual was what men prefer women to look like, more like the Boticelli ideal I mentioned earlier. And you know why? Because that’s the size of the “average” woman, and it’s another reason skinny girls can’t win.
What we really value in this society is comfort and convenience, and a sense of nostalgia for what we had when we were growing up. So many men grew up in families where their mothers were of an average size, and they came to understand that this was the desirable body type, because of the comfort they associated with it. Mom took care of them when they weren’t feeling well. She cared for them and gave them unconditional love. That’s what they want from a life partner, and so many guys internalize those character traits even without realizing it. They partner them all up in their brains, so not only do they look for someone who can give them unconditional love and comfort, but they also look for someone who fits the same body type.
That’s not to say that men don’t look at supermodels with a sense of fascination, but this is not unlike how they might observe an alien in a caged environment. It draws their eye in because it’s so different from what they’re familiar with, and they wonder how it can even be real. The same applies when it comes to many skinny girls. Men see them as interesting specimens, but when they want to settle down they pick someone who they see as comfortable, as familiar. And it’s not their faults. It’s society, right?
7 thoughts on “Skinny Girls Can’t Win”
I have a post by a guest blogger going up in a few minutes. It actually touches on a few of these issues. The blogger Invisible Princess does a whole series on body image. Worth checking out.
Thanks for the suggestion, Steph!
No problem. Hope you enjoy it. Thank me later 😉
This post hits close to home.
Jess, the reason I wrote it is because I see so many people talking about how easy skinny girls have it and it incensed me.
How easy they have it? Depends in who they are. There is a very ugly and destructive side to thinness, which is propelled by the beauty industry, as you mentioned. I’m glad that comment made you mad. Whoever said it wasn’t *really* thinking.
I think others find it really easy to judge just because they don’t know how something really is. They project and they generalize. What I would love to hear are stories about how people have been judged for any number of things and then how they set people straight. I can only imagine what you’ve gone through being thin.