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Originally published August 21, 2018 on yourhappinessquest.com. Republished here with permission. Get your blog featured!
Trigger warning: this article mentions weight, dieting, clothing size, and other topics that may be triggering for those in eating disorder recovery.
As you well know, the fashion industry and media have weird messages for girls and women about what is beautiful and what you need to look like to be ‘normal’ or ‘beautiful’ or ‘happy.’ I put these in quotation marks because no one else’s opinion can ultimately determine what makes you beautiful and happy. I exclude normal here because let’s face it, ‘normal’ is boring. You don’t want to be normal.
If you are reading this, you may have yet to realize the fact that ‘normal’ = boring. If it hasn’t hit you yet, it will. When that day comes, this realization will strike you like a lightning bolt of relief.
As I was a chubby kid and teenager I have long had problems, and frankly still do, with my body image. My weight has been like a constant yo-yo. I put on a dress size. Freak out. Start dieting and exercising more. Lose weight until I fit that tiny dress I rarely squeeze into. Then be briefly pleased about looking good in my dress before getting excited that I can have a piece of chocolate because ‘Damn girl you’re looking good.‘ Then I would have some nachos, my ultimate weakness. Then more nachos. Then my tiny dress wouldn’t fit anymore and the cycle repeated.
Accepting Individual Beauty
So today I write this essay in response to the confusing and conflicting messages out there about female beauty and body types in the hopes it will help others come to terms with their natural body type and help them accept that they are beautiful.
I realize that my earlier comments make me sound like a bit of a junk food fiend but honestly, I am not. I genuinely love to eat healthy food. It fuels me. I also love pizza and pies like any normal human, but I feel sick if I eat too many carbohydrates and sugar. Because of this, I have never understood how anyone can go more than a day without a healthy serving of vegetables.
I grew up on healthy, homemade meals and I love it. That is also my problem: I love food. I can’t stop at half the salad on my plate; I must eat it all because it is delicious, and eating delicious food is my favorite hobby.
The main issue I have, as I said earlier, is that I am not naturally a very skinny girl. I have never been. No matter how little I eat and how much I exercise, I will always be rather busty and have what is commonly referred to as ‘child-bearing hips.’ As a result, my physical bone structure will not allow me to fit anything smaller than a UK size 8, which, I have learned has me considered a plus-size model. This is a super unrealistic and unhealthy message to teach people.
“… even at my skinniest possible size… I would still be considered a plus-size model.”
For a curvy girl like myself, the message gets more confusing because, on the one hand, people are like, “OMG, I wish I had an hour-glass figure!” But on the other hand, when you go into practically any women’s clothing shop, you will struggle to find something that is flattering or actually fits.
Maybe this is different if you can afford to shop at designer boutiques or live in a large city with more options, which maybe one day I will, but, for now, I cannot. I am skeptical of this sentiment, though, because I have, several times tested out these type of shops, and, despite sporting the $300+ price tag, I still didn’t leave convinced that this is the solution to my problem.
Normality is Boring; Be Yourself
Since, I have come to realize that ‘normal = boring‘ it has helped me accept that my desire to be skinny the way society has blasted all around me would not make me happy. The amount of effort I would need to put in to fit this unrealistic ‘standard of beauty’ for my body type is ridiculous.
Frankly, I have much more exciting things to think about.
This does not mean, however, that I will ever ‘let myself go’. When my mind and body become misaligned, I am unhappy. What is the primary goal then? Focus on how you feel. Do you feel healthy, happy, energized and fulfilled?
I accept myself for who I am an hourglass figure, and I will rock that shape in the healthiest way possible.
One side says be skinny, another party says celebrate plus size, and yet again another side is starting to emerge saying that the plus size-model movement is dangerous because it encourages an unhealthy body image in the other direction.
We need to focus more on what is healthy for each individual.
Too skinny is unhealthy, but, if you go too far in the other direction, that is also unhealthy. Underweight, for your natural size, and overweight, for your natural size will both cause you health problems. Everyone is different. What is a healthy size for one person could be unhealthy for another person.
Can we please do away with the terms ‘model’ and ‘plus-size model’ and instead simply have healthy models?
I have UK size six friends that are just naturally that thin. They are also self-conscious about the way they look, thinking they are too skinny just as I am typically a UK size 10-12 and am self-conscious that I am too big.
Everyone is different; there is no perfect body size or shape that we should all be striving to reach.
I am not interested in portraying models of anyone’s specific idealism. Everyone has a different idea of what is the ‘perfect size’. I want to celebrate women who are living a healthy lifestyle and are happy with themselves, regardless of what society deems to be the popular norm.
I am happy to say that I have now found the solution to my yo-yo dieting. It only took leaping 41 meters off a bridge to shock me into taking my health more seriously. But it worked.
Look after yourself, because you’re the only one like you and you only get one chance at this life.
- Why can’t we celebrate what is healthy for each body shape?
- Everyone is different
- ‘Normal’ is boring and non-existent
- Be yourself
- Be healthy
- Find a mind-body alignment
- Celebrate your body
- Look after your body
- Exercise your body
- Pamper your body
- Nourish your body with healthy, delicious food
- Love your body, because you only get one and you never know how long you get it for
- If you agree spread this message to women of all ages. Let’s band together and start a new movement! Also, remember don’t take fashion too seriously. Have fun with fashion. That’s what it’s there for.
Adrianne Jerrett is a yoga-loving self-awareness writer and the founder of Jerrett Digital, a brand identity and design company that creates bold Showit websites for health and wellness professionals and ethical businesses.
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