Plus, when you consider this advertisement in contrast with a recent Huffington Post article revealing the strict diet Victoria’s Secret Angels endure prior to their annual Fashion Show, it’s no wonder women hate their bodies so much. They are shown these Angels that are unrealistic images of what a woman supposedly should be, and then torn down went they don’t measure up. What people don’t realize is how much hell these Angels ironically go through to look that thin. The piece describes how Adriana Lima prepares for the runway event:
She sees a nutritionist, who has measured her body’s muscle mass, fat ratio, and levels of water retention. He prescribes protein shakes, vitamins and supplements to keep Lima’s energy levels up during this training period. Lima drinks a gallon of water a day. For nine days before the show she will drink only protein shakes – “no solids”. The concoctions include powdered egg.
Two days before the show she will abstain from the gallon of water a day, and “just drink normally”. Then, 12 hours before the show she will stop drinking entirely.
For every woman who calls that regimen utterly ridiculous, there will be 10 more willing to try the technique and slim down to an unhealthily thin frame. But what’s the alternative? Look like Jacqueline in a lace bra and panty set? And get left by your man?
The problem with the images of the female form that we are sold is that there is no room for a happy medium. Impossible expectations of thin women with beautiful faces are juxtaposed with morbidly obese and unattractive women as if to say you have to fit on one end of the spectrum or the other. And to steal a line from the movie “Dodgeball,” if you can’t achieve a body like Adriana Lima, “it’s your fault if you don’t hate yourself enough to do something about it.”
What was at one time more of a “white-girl” issue, the pressure to be thin is increasingly becoming a part of the black community. Many argue that this is a positive thing given the rate of obesity we face, but is physical health more important than mental? The comments from black men and women around the blogosphere criticizing plus-size women for spending more time in the nail salon than in the gym, stripping Gabourey Sidibe of any possible ounce of sexuality, and proclaiming the unattractiveness of the fuller figure is behavior that at one time wasn’t so commonplace among us; and it doesn’t need to be.
A wider range of body types has traditionally been accepted in the black community — but will we soon find ourselves encouraging one another to be rail thin, adhering to the status quo? J.Lo, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian’s bodies are novel by comparison to anorexic models; that’s why they receive so much attention. As we as a group join in on the fat hatred, are we leaving ourselves open to the slew of body issues that young white teen girls are so susceptible to?
Concern about health is certainly needed among us, but mocking and teasing overweight women doesn’t convey that message — whether in an ad or on a message board. Just as young girls and adult women need to be shielded from images promoting extremely thin body types as normal or ideal, it shouldn’t be commonplace to criticize overweight women in an effort to get them to be “healthy,” all the while sacrificing their self esteem. No one pokes fun at anorexia; obesity deserves the same respect.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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