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Be Proud of Your Body, No Matter What

What is a healthy body image? There is a contrast in today’s culture that doesn’t give a clear answer to this age-old question. If you pay attention to popular culture you’ll already know that there are so many mixed messages about beauty for women. There’s a surge of companies with campaigns for “normal” women, the most well-known being Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, as well as movements for body peace. On the flip side, actresses still have thin bodies, advertisements feature beautiful “perfect” looking women and working out to look fantastic in a bikini is a prominent feature of women’s magazines.

There is so much contradiction out there that it’s hard for women to learn to love their bodies the way they are. Why would we be okay being on the curvy side when all of the sexiest women in the world look like Anna Kournikova? Men drool over pinup pictures of skinny women in bikinis and fantasize about spending a day at the Playboy mansion. It’s no wonder, then, that women are constantly trying to look skinnier and need a bit of reassurance from body peace campaigns.

  • Mainstream “Fat Shaming”

In a world where obesity is considered a national epidemic and there are countless campaigns targeting obesity, it’s hard to feel comfortable being more curvy or bigger boned. Everyone is on the anti-obesity bandwagon, pushing for healthier diets everywhere and more active lifestyles. Even fast food restaurants, notorious for contributing to obesity, have begun to make small changes like putting calorie counts on their menus. This, of course, is a good thing because obesity is a serious health risk.

The problem with this lies in the classification of obese. Many people who are bigger are seen to be obese, even if they aren’t overweight at all. Just because someone isn’t skinny doesn’t mean she’s overweight, and that’s what people don’t realize because we’ve always been told that anyone who isn’t skinny is ugly or fat. This is definitely not the case. Just because someone is plus sized does not mean that they’re fat.

Mainstream media doesn’t help lessen the “fat shaming” at all. How many movies have you seen that have a lead female character that isn’t skinny? Even if you can think of one, think of how she was portrayed and what the media said about her. Melissa McCarthy was recently called a “hippo” and “tractor sized” by film critic Rex Reed regarding her role in the movie “Identity Thief.” Even though she is a successful actress, she is still being called out on her body size instead of her acting talent. This is why the body peace campaigns will not work until everyone in the media is on board.

  • Dove Versus Victoria’s Secret: the Body Image Showdown

Recently a photo went viral of Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign” where underneath was a photo of Victoria’s Secret “Love my Body Campaign.” There is a noticeable difference in these pictures, particularly the body type of the women featured. In Dove’s picture the women are full-figured and curvy, while the Victoria’s Secret women are noticeably slimmer. Is it really fair to compare these ads, though?

The debate surrounding this viral image is that women are being pitted against each other. Curvy women are hating on skinnier women, and vice versa. Both of these brands produce products that will make you feel beautiful no matter what your body type is. Making your skin glow with Dove products and wearing a sexy nightgown from Victoria’s Secret have the same effect on your self-image, just in different ways. There is no right answer when it comes to this debate.

This also goes for the sayings like, “real women have curves” that are found all over the Internet. This is essentially propaganda for this war between skinny and curvy women. Saying this is feeding the fire for women of different body types to be against each other, when in reality women should be working together to stop these attitudes. The idea of “real” women being more curvy or voluptuous is offensive to women who are naturally thin. All women are “real” women and should be celebrated.

  • Skinny Women Have Body Image Issues Too

There’s a common stereotype out there that thin women are snobby and full of themselves, and curvier women are self conscious and over-friendly. This is so wrong ladies! Tall, thin women have their own share of body image worries, just like some curvier women don’t have a problem with their bodies at all. When people comment on too-thin women saying they are “just skin and bones” or “disgustingly thin” it is just as hurtful as fat shaming.

In fact, thin women are often more likely to have an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s a young girl’s disease, either, because at least 10 percent of women over the age of 40 have an eating disorder. In fact, one of the main causes of eating disorders for women in their 30’s and older is due to a poor body image that stems from trying to maintain the standards set out by today’s culture. When you look at Hollywood celebrities who are in this age group it’s hard not to be concerned, but people often forget how much work has gone into making Cindy Crawford look fabulous at age 47.

  • “Healthy” is Not a Certain Body Type

If you ask someone what their preferred body type for a woman is, the majority of people will not say “skinny.” They’ll say “healthy.” In fact, women with a little more meat on their bones aren’t unhealthy at all, despite what popular culture might have you believe. Some women have bigger bones and larger body frames, and there’s nothing they can do to change that. As long as you’re eating healthy and exercising, you are healthy and beautiful the way you are.

If a man is only attracted to skinny, “perfect” looking bodies then he’s shallow and not worth your time! So don’t waste time worrying about what your body looks like to your significant other. All that matters is that you’re happy and confident with yourself. The right person will love you for who you are, and will be attracted to you no matter what your body looks like.

  • Moving Forward With a Healthy Body Image

Credit does have to be given to some of the game changers out there. The previously mentioned Melissa McCarthy is among some successful actresses who have plus sized body types and are proud of it. While there’s still a long way to go, these ladies are paving the way for progress.

Women’s magazines that include fashion sections all have a “dress for your body type” attitude. They showcase different clothes for different body types, allowing all kinds of readers to find what works for them. The only problem is that sometimes they don’t include all of the possible body types or allow for a combination of body types. For example, if you’re curvy and petite like me, you’re going to have an awful time trying to find out which clothing works for both aspects. However, it’s still a step in the right direction when it comes to incorporating all body types. Plus sized clothing is also more stylish than ever, which is a huge bonus!

So don’t be jealous of other women who you think might have a more perfect body than yours, because they probably don’t even think that about their own body. In fact, they might even be jealous of you! There is no definition of a perfect body because everyone is different and what’s perfect to someone might not be the same to someone else. Your loved ones and the people who matter the most truly don’t care what your body looks like because they love you for who you are.

Not everyone looks like a Victoria’s Secret Angel, and that’s okay. You are still beautiful, strong and powerful the way you are. You don’t have to have a perfect body to be fabulous! You’re fabulous already!

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Lesley Cornelius

Lesley Cornelius lives in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. She is a graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University, with a double major in journalism and history. She writes for both publications at Goddess Connections, “Women Who Run It” and “How to Put the Fun Back Into Dating,” and is an expert on dating and relationships, health, fitness, and nutrition. Lesley writes novels in her spare time and hopes to one day become a successful author, writer, and journalist. For now, she enjoys exploring her interests, playing and watching ice hockey and living every day to its fullest potential. You can contact her at lesley.cornelius6@gmail.com.