The ideal body – the hourglass figure. Barbie had it in the 50’s. We spend so much time searching for the right mix of body parts when we know that in a few years, that ideal type is bound to change. And history shows us that it has. The website Viralnova reposted this blog from A Weighty Subject, depicting vintage beauty ads, along with the title ‘Here Are 18 Beauty Ads From The Past That Would Result In Mass Protests Today’. What’s disturbing is that while yes, the ads are incredibly aggressive and insulting, they aren’t that much different than what we see today.
The wording is different, but the concept is still the same. The ads in the link range from telling women they’re too fat and need to lose weight and wear compression undergarments to telling women they’re too skinny and need to bulk up by eating ironized yeast. There’s even ads for clothing designed to make overweight girls appear thinner – and reference it as ‘Chubby Fashion’.
At one time, voluptuous women were desirable. Then skinny, size zero women were ideal. Back and forth, over and over again. And each time the ideal changed, you could guarantee an increase in eating disorders. Society continues down this path today, but the battle is much more fervent than it’s ever been.
Recently, a UK lingerie company, Bluebella, conducted a survey between men and women to get their ideal bodies. Here’s their results:
So while it might not be acceptable to call some one ‘chubby’ or ‘fat’, clearly neither one are considered perfect. And obviously there is no living man or woman that is ‘perfect’, otherwise these diagrams wouldn’t have been Frankensteined together. I understand the idea of Darwinian aesthetics, but as humans, we rarely mate with the sole purpose of producing offspring anymore (despite what some people are saying when speaking out against same-sex marriage).
So why do we torture ourselves? The only acceptable body type you should be concerned about is the one you see in the mirror. If you aren’t happy with how you look, why is that? Is it because you want a slimmer stomach or more muscular arms? And if that’s the case, why? Because you’ll feel better about yourself? Or because you’ve been brainwashed into believing you have to look like one of the figures above in order to be desirable?
People ask me if I have a type. I don’t. Not a physical type, anyway. I’ve been with and loved women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Eyes and smile, intelligence, personality – those things get me every time. The physical attraction just comes along with it.
Granted, being at either end of the scale can be very unhealthy. But the mental issues that come along with weight obsession can be just as deadly, and lead to you ending up at either extreme. My mom ruined her thyroid by constantly dieting. She robbed her body of necessary nutrients in an effort to hit that ‘ideal weight’, and ended up with hypothyroidism – ironically, a disease with a side effect of difficulty losing weight.
I’ve struggled with weight all my life. Taking corticosteroids made me retain water and balloon out to the point where I was convinced I’d burst. I’ve had friends who have struggled with eating disorders. We put so much focus on weight loss and body image. Reality shows like “The Biggest Loser” and “My 600 Lb. Life” show morbidly obese people in a last ditch fight for their lives. And when they show they can’t get on the path to that ideal body type, they fade from the camera and we never find out what happens to them.
Could you imagine where we’d be as a society if we put the same kind of effort into education, the environment, our children or our communities as we put into our struggle to achieve the perfect body?
I’m not saying that it’s unimportant to be healthy. But if you want to be healthy, do it for you. Not because an ad in a magazine made you feel inferior as a human being.
On a side note, I’m not entirely sure this particular ad should be condemned. Though if it does what I think it does, it would take more than five minutes for three days to achieve measurable results. Unless walking around with a smile on your face and a hitch in your step is considered measurable results…