It’s not easy to be a curvy woman in today’s society. Magazines, the media, strangers on the street, and even our own family members play a huge role in how we perceive ourselves. Society has a set of impossible standards that each of us women must meet or else we are considered useless and worthless. We are taught to strive to meet these standards from a young age through childhood toys, princess movies, etc. But why are these standards set in place if it is nearly impossible to attain them? Women come in all shapes and sizes and this is something that needs to be embraced. Instead of teaching women to feel the need to be something they are not, society needs to promote self-love and acceptance of ourselves and our bodies.
A great example of how the the fashion industry is letting women down is the company, Victoria’s Secret. Victoria’s Secret is a brand that is known for depicting women in an oversexualized and unrealistic way. They sell their products based on a “you can look like me if you buy this product” kind of basis. But on another note, a woman must look like the model in order to actually pull off the stringy lingerie shown in the commercials. Victorias Secret even promoted a campaign called “ The Perfect Body” in which the models pictured were all the same size, shape, and even the same height. The reason that this company fails entirely on every level is because they refuse to show the world what real women look like. When discussing how Victoria's Secret models make her feel, Katherine Schreiber of Cosmopolitan Magazine says "It's simply human nature to compare ourselves to others, we can easily feel bad about how we measure up to such unrealistic images" (Schreiber). A curvy woman has never been in a Victoria's Secret ad nor have they walked down the runway in a Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. With the amount of influence that a company such as Victoria’s Secret has on women, the more that they show these far-fetched body types, the longer that women will continue to see themselves in a distorted way.
A perfect body can mean something different to each person. For me, I thought that I had a perfect body and a perfect life when I was a sophomore in high school. I became a cheerleader that year and thought that I had everything I needed in life. I had great friends, a beautiful new car, I partied every weekend, and I could date any boy I wanted (really, I could). I was the favored child in my family because of what I looked like and because of my popularity in high school. I was given anything that I would ask for and was always shown how much I was loved and adored. However, everything changed after the summer that I got a nose job. My family had always somewhat poked fun at me because of the bump I had on my nose, so much so that my grandmother even offered to pay for me to get a rhinoplasty. I ended up taking her offer and underwent a 4-hour surgery to fix my minor imperfection. Little did I know, this would change everything for me. Due to my long recovery, I lost my ability to throw a back handspring and did not end up making the cheer team when tryouts came along. I was absolutely devastated and all I wanted to do was sleep, eat, and isolate myself. This cycle went on for months until I had dug myself into a hole that I could not get out of. I gained 50 pounds, lost all of my friends, totaled my beautiful car, wasn’t invited to anymore parties, and was single as I ever could be. My family no longer paid attention to me or gave me everything I wanted, I was nothing to them. I was constantly told “Why are you so fat? Why don’t you start a diet? How could you have done this to yourself?” I started to realize where my worth came when it came to my family and my old friends and this saddened me. However, it also inspired me to make a change and I learned to love myself. I started to realize that I am the only person that I have to please in life and I have more confidence now than I ever have before. Everything that I have gone through has made me a stronger and happier young woman and for that I am thankful.
( A photo of me in my cheerleading uniform from sophomore year. )
Body shaming is never okay under any circumstances and this sort of hateful behavior needs to stop. Bullying someone over their body can lead them to suffer serious eating disorders such as the diseases anorexia and bulimia nervosa. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, “Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder” (Anad.org). If society continues its destructive stigma around women's bodies, this statistic will only become more catastrophic. It is not anyone's place to judge another person for their outward appearances. You do not know what someone could be going through at that specific time or how your words could affect that person. We need to teach people that it is okay to be different than the rest and to choose to make yourself happy. A good way that we can change our old patterns and pave the way for future generations is to spread messages of self-love and body positivity through the media and throughout our own lives. If we can do that, I am positive that we will see the change that we desperately need in this world.