Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels – Kate Moss
Stop hating your body. Hate the culture that makes you feel like you should.
We need to stop looking in the mirror and berating the shape staring back at us and instead, berate the culture that emphasises physical beauty over strength of character. We must stop condemning the size of our bodies and condemn an industry that decides what is perfect and what isn’t good enough. We must stop relying on culture to define what is beautiful and take back ownership of our own beauty. My body is the only thing I truly, solely own. It is mine and only mine. I will be damned if I let anyone else tell me that I am not good enough.
Like most people, I am constantly criticised. Alongside being too fat, too thin, too short, too outspoken or too distant, I am too political. The coin is rarely flipped. Scarcely am I celebrated for being compassionate, understanding or refusing to stand by and plead ignorance while other people lambast others about their body size, sexual preferences, gender or skin colour. It is unfortunate that the choice to be a good person brands me pejoratively as ‘political’ when my politics and front-line stance on prejudice is my own championing quality. Unfortunate, certainly, but I would be doing myself a terrible injustice to allow other people’s definitions of myself to override my own. I own my politicism. I own my sexuality. I own my body. I am not going to remain silent for the sake of your comfort zone.
As such, I am loudly, proudly, gargantuously intolerant of body shaming. Fat shaming. Thin shaming. The very notion that somebody possesses the bare-faced audacity to make unwarranted judgements about another person’s physical being is bile inducing. The idea that people think it’s somehow OK to deliver mitigated messages of ‘You aren’t good enough and you should do X to change’ is a socially and mentally damaging one indeed. Have we, as a society, reached a level of self-important superficiality that we feel we have earned a right to make criticisms about the way a person looks? Offer banal “insights” into the things that often, we cannot change?
It is an unhelpful product of an image-centric society. The media and the fashion industry have birthed a culture that preaches beauty. Not lasting beauty that we carry in our hearts and our nature and our minds but an ephemeral, shallow beauty that preaches if one is aesthetically lovely then they count. A beauty that insists our exquisite amalgamation of blood and muscle and bone and fat and ligament is nothing more than a product perfectly packaged for cultural consumption.
If our packaging is a little torn or creased then what can we possibly be good for? If we cannot be merchandised, where is our place in society?
And so the unprofitable become the outcast. If we cannot be mass-produced, we are made to feel unworthy. We are not in magazines or music videos, nor are we Hollywood leading ladies and so we feel that we are being damn-near pushed out of the public sphere altogether. We feel as though we do not look hot-shit in hotpants because we are being repeatedly told so. But how do we know? Doesn’t what looks good and what doesn’t ultimately boil down to a matter of preference? Of choice? The inbuilt, individual act of making a personal decision based on two opposing possibilities? Choice is something we each have a right to exercise. Do not let anyone take your right to choose away from you.
And because we let go of our ability to make our own choices, we have lost sight of the natural loveliness of our bodies – the magnificent notion that we are the physical embodiment of a spirit, a soul! That we are skin and eyes and hair of all different shapes, sizes, colours and lengths! Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing ourselves, we see only comparisons. Rather than seeing what our body looks like, we see flashing images of all the people it doesn’t. ‘But I don’t have a thigh gap’, ‘My boobs are too small’, ‘My stomach isn’t flat enough’. We have become too deeply invested within a cocoon of insecurity and self-doubt to see ourselves for what we are and what we have – what is beautiful. Before we know it, we are standing on the outside of a body that has been taught it needs to be skinny, not healthy.
Skinny > healthy is a message that brings with it catastrophic consequences. Instead of adopting a healthy eating and exercise lifestyle to sustain healthy living, I see increasing numbers of men and women cling to the ideal of ‘bony is beautiful’ and will starve themselves to attain a critically thin aesthetic. A person’s desire to be skinny, or to fit in with societal expectations of what it means to be ‘beautiful’ can develop into a dangerous preoccupation with ones own body image to the extent where their believed flawed physical appearance manifests into a psychological illness: Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Mottos such as ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ and ‘Not eating light makes your clothes tight’ frequent pro-anorexia websites, with an estimated 8 million US citizens living with an eating disorder. 7 million of these sufferers are women.
The statistics are shocking, yet the culture remains. The defeatist within me believes that as long as there is money to be made, the industry will continue to champion a size zero figure and insist that those of us who do not tick the box are not good enough. That will not change until we do. We must be the catalyst for a society that celebrates beauty in its most wide and varied forms, that stops shaming people for the way they look and starts understanding that we are all born different but we are all born beautiful.
Most importantly, we must see ourselves for what we are: fascinating, beautiful creatures of a vast and magnificent universe, no two of us the same.
Sophie Elizabeth Moss is a second year undergraduate at the Cardiff school of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, a faculty of Cardiff University. When not searching for the perfect leather jacket, she can be found wincing the night away in a quiet corner of the English countryside, penning gritty horror novels of grandeur supernatural splendour and nurturing a dysfunctional relationship with her out-of-tune bass guitar and misanthropic pendulum. Disillusioned with societal expectations of the ‘modern woman’, she is a pro-choice, body positivity advocate and is haunted by the ghost of Simone de Beauvoir. @Sophiedelays