Working lots of overtime recently so haven’t been able to blog much (excuses excuses). However I was interested to read the article discussing thinness in the Observer Women magazine last weekend. Siberian Fall posted about this article at Mind the Gap and asks has feminism failed to make an impact on eating disorders and obsessional thinness?
Identifying as a feminist has had a hugely liberating impact on many areas of my life, but has made little or no difference to my issues with my body. I do not have an eating disorder, but I do go through periods of experiencing a huge amount of loathing for my body. I am 5’4” tall, size 10, bra size 32 CC. Objectively I think I look pretty good. But living in this body in this society can be a whole different matter.
We are bombarded with images of female bodies all day every day. These are invariably used as a marketing tool, either selling the body, or selling a product. Where the body is the product the image is usually directed at men. The women in question have enormous breasts, tiny waists and very round but slim figures. The breasts are often fake, bodies unnaturally hairless, the images air brushed. Fashion photography is usually aimed at women to sell clothes, and clothes look best on tall, skinny figures. These images are different to those aimed at men because the women are very straight and bony. They have small breasts, no hips or bottom. The clothes glide over their bodies.
Neither of these bear any relation to what my body looks like. I am small and round, not skinny, and my breasts don’t look like those we see so often on telly and in the red tops. They aren’t like a big circle of perfect roundness, they hang down, and if you look side on the silhouette is lower case j or l shape. My body is in proportion, but I don’t feel like it is because the bodies that I see every day aren’t in proportion. If someone is terribly skinny, for example Nikki on Big Brother, their breasts usually get much smaller. Nikki had breast implants for this very reason, and now has enormous boobs and a tiny body. This makes me feel like my body shape is unnatural when in fact it is the other way round.
I don’t feel that there is an alternative to these images where I can feel comfortable in my own skin. Even though objectively I know that the average dress size in the UK is a 16 and I am therefore in very good shape, subjectively I compare myself to these images of women without a pot belly, with no fat on their arms and legs, and I feel large. There are some parts of my life where I know that patriarchal bullshit is so ingrained in the way that I think that it is unlikely I will ever change my mindset. Body image is one of these areas. Why do I compare my body to other women? And would it be any better to compare myself to society’s image of the perfect body if it was more akin to my own?