The female body is one to be appreciated and admired. We are built in different shapes and sizes which contributes to our uniqueness. It seems that society has grown quite fond of women with a slender physique or someone who favors the Kim Kardashian or Jennifer Lopez body-type. But what about the rest of the world? What about those who can’t afford the surgeries, the specialized trainers or the weekly dietitians that contribute to their perfect bodies? What about the women who are considered chubby or fat because they’re over a size 8? As if women aren’t body shamed enough, a recent study out of Simon Fraser University in Canada claims that using plus-size models for advertising has a negative effect on the public’s lifestyle and eating habits. Let’s dissect the study.
According to HealthlyHorns.Utexas.edu, the average woman in the US is 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighs about 140 lbs. According to Webcenters.netscape.compuserve.com, the average woman wears a size 14, which is the size spectrum where plus-size begins. The average model wears a size 0-2.
Brands and advertisers contribute to the distorted representation that women have in the media today by using models that don’t reflect the rest of society. The plus-size community has taken a stand against the misrepresentation by creating their own lane.
In October of 2014, the lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret came under fire when they introduced “Body by Victoria” with the tagline, “The Perfect Body.” The ads featured tall, slender models with bodies that fit the industry’s standards. People argued that this kind of advertisement would contribute to body issues by insinuating that a size 2 is “the perfect body.” Still, Victoria’s Secret stood by their ad.
If the average woman wears a size 14, how will Body by Victoria be an appropriate fit? Surely, the plus size community began to market themselves for other women who looked like them. The more the average woman took a stand for herself and her size, the more she would be knocked down and persuaded to conform to an “acceptable” size. The study, on the effect plus-size modeling has on women’s eating and lifestyle choices, is completely insulting. We finally get to see women that represent the average woman and we’re being told that these images are negatively affecting our lifestyles.
The study suggest that by seeing ads with plus-size women, it encourages us to be more relaxed when it comes to what we choose to eat, how we exercise, and how active we decide to be in life. What about the woman who eats well but carries more muscle so she looks bigger? Or the slender woman who eats horribly but stays slim? Instead of promoting sizes shouldn’t we be be promoting healthy eating? A size 14-16 person can be more healthy than someone who is a size 2.
As adults, body shaming hurts but we can learn to shake it off, choose to ignore it or do something about it. What about the young kids and teenagers? We aren’t encouraging them to love themselves the way they are, we are we teaching them that in order to be accepted in the world you have to be a size 0-2. It is important that we raise women who are proud of who they are and what they look like. Self-love is important, but it can’t be taught if we can’t accept ourselves. We don’t have to get rid of all ads with models who are a size zero, but we can continue to show the average woman to reflect everyone.