I posted before about the controversy on Kate Upton and the Skinny Gossip site. As I was browsing past the internet news, an article hit my news feed. It said “Kate Upton Defends Her Curves”. I was quite excited to see that most of the article was a recap and Kate really only had one thing to say about the situation. What she said was short and simple, but powerful : “My body is something that you have to work out and eat healthily for. I’m not doing drugs or not eating. I want to enjoy life and I can’t be enjoying life if I’m not eating and miserable.”
Her words are powerful and so true. When I was IN the eating disorder and “disciplined” as Skinny Gossip would call it, I didn’t understand why I was so frustrated and unhappy. I had worked so hard to get my weight so low that I needed a belt with my size 0 jeans, but I wasn’t happy. A therapist explained it to me… she said, if you took a dog and starved it, and made it over exercise for months on end, what kind of mood do you think it would be in? A miserable mood. Working so hard to get there was not worth being miserable and losing the enjoyment out of life. Kate Upton was exactly right.
Sometimes it’s so hard to see that the eating disorder takes away your happiness. It promises so much, and you think it will fix everything, but it doesn’t. Looking back on all the days of stress and worry, the eating disorder gave me nothing but anxiety. Had I not gone into treatment I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy my trip to Europe with my husband and students. I wouldn’t have enjoyed the amazing gelato in Italy, and I wouldn’t have had the brain power to take in the amazing sights of Rome and Pompeii and I wouldn’t have been able to rock out the best 80’s wear for 80’s day before our school musical, The Wedding Singer.
Kate’s situation with Skinny Gossip has started an international debate about what is acceptable and what is not, but this isn’t the first time this has happened. This topic has been in the media for some time. Not too long ago many people in Europe refused to allow models who were too thin to walk the runway in an attempt to promote health. Not too long before that several models died of complications from Anorexia.
Recently, Vogue has decided to initiate a healthy body image movement. Editors from all 19 international editions ofVogue have signed the brand’s first Health Initiative, an agreement that they hope will “encourage a healthier approach to body image within the industry.” This was sparked by concern over the industry’s use of thin models who are very young. The stipulations include not hiring models under 16, who appear to have an eating disorder, asking casting directors to not send them models who are under 16, and to look at the consequences of using unrealistically small sample sizes of clothing. German Vogue released an unairbrushed “Health Initiative” Vogue issue where the models of all ages bare it all.
American Vogue decided to create a spread using the Olympic athletes who will be competing in London this summer in their attempt to promote a healthier and more fit side of modeling.
Body image has plagued women for a long time. I could probably say it’s safe to say that almost any woman has had body image issues at one point or another, but I won’t. A lot of us have at one point or another. It’s the hardest to overcome because of all the messages we see every day. In all the media and everything, so much of what we see are women becoming smaller and smaller as time goes on. A plus size magazine made a bold statement not too long ago showing the gap between models and the average person in the following images.
The disturbing part of this is that, today, a plus size model is starting at a size 6! A size 6 is what we consider plus size!!! To me, this is ridiculous! Our models in the 80’s and the early 90’s were wearing a 4 and a 6 and now, we had to create a 00 because they actually went lower than a 0!
I’m not saying that we should say “screw it” to being thin and eat to get bigger or anything like that. In fact, I’m not promoting one side over another. There are women who wear a 0 or a 2 who are healthy and at the correct BMI. One thing I’ve learned in treatment is that we all have different bodies and our frames are all different. What is a healthy number on me, might not be a healthy number on you. I was so upset that I couldn’t get my number low enough in comparison to some other girls, but what I didn’t realize is that I had organs not functioning properly and systems shutting down on me at the low weight that I was already at, while some girls were lower and didn’t have those issues. The one thing we often don’t remember is that every person’s body is very different, but we all compare them to the small percent of the world who are models. So many models DON’T make it because they don’t fall into that “expected body type” because it’s NOT realistic! I think one of my favorite pictures was a photo that a friend tagged me in when I was sick.
I think we can get to a point where we can come to peace with our bodies and love the skin we are in. I think we can accept that we are built as we are and we can love what we look like. I want to be one of those people who love the way they look and enjoy the curves they have. I can say, it’s not easy to do that. I think doing that is one of the hardest things to do given how much the message is different in the media. It’s so hard to believe that losing ___ lbs will make us happy. We see thin models in magazines and on billboards happy and seemingly “carefree” and it’s what we want, but it’s an illusion.
The more we embrace how beautiful we are, and how much we can love our bodies, the more we can change the way our society looks at our bodies and sees us as women. I don’t want to have a daughter growing up with a society telling her that “thin is beautiful.” I want her to live in a society where she can appreciate her own body for how beautiful it is and love herself for who she is. It’s so sad to know that in Figi, once the Western culture came via television, eating disorders were nonexistent. Since television came, so did their distorted body image with the view of only thin women on the shows available.
The more we learn to love who we are, the more we will begin to make the change that we want in society. The change won’t come by hoping the industry does it for us to make us feel good. The change will only come when we demand something, and that will only come when we make the changes ourselves. We have to start saying that we are already beautiful and that we want to see real beauty. They (the fashion industry) aren’t there to make us feel good and have great self esteem, they are just trying to sell clothes and they think stick thin is beautiful in their clothing. We have to do our part and accept our bodies for what they are and demand a change. We are beautiful.