Recently, the media has bombarded us with a multitude of campaigns centred on body-image such as the “Fitspiration” movement, the “Say No to Size Zero” campaign spearheaded by Katie Green, and even the famous endorsement of a positive body-image by the celebrity Jennifer Lawrence. These are all noble causes that champion women of body shapes, size and weight other than those commonly portrayed in popular media.
A combination of “fitness” and “inspiration”, the “Fitspiration” movement is almost akin to an uprising of women (and less frequently, men) who believe in both physical and mental strength. ‘Fitspo’ adherents are like an army of Xena the warrior princesses who have used their incredible self-discipline and passion for fitness to overcome their body image insecurities. Naturally, they also achieve confidence and a love for their bodies and themselves.
Having personally felt empowered by the fitspiration movement, I do not doubt that the champions of this movement have only the best intentions at heart. I found fitspiration in a community of fitness bloggers on tumblr and saw how peoples’ lives were transformed by the inspiring and motivational messages that the community propagated.
Likewise, I’m sure Katie Green and Jennifer Lawrence only had good intentions when they addressed media discrimination against curvier girls.
Image source: http://imgur.com/r/jenniferlawrence/A99tS4N
The Say No to Size Zero campaign was launched by Katie Green, an aspiring model who was told to lose weight. It is not an uncommon issue in the modelling industry, as sad as it is. All of us are also aware that Jennifer Lawrence had to deal with her fair share of hate regarding her weight when she played the starring role in a recent teen fiction movie, Katniss in The Hunger Games. Having been personally discriminated against for their size and weight, they saw the need to change media perceptions of beauty. They proclaimed, loudly and clearly: Yes, curvy girls are beautiful too!
No doubt about that. But really, are they more beautiful than skinny girls?
Does having curves make them more of a woman, or a human?
And so what if some girls don’t lift? #DoYouEvenLift
Jennifer Lawrence was once quoted “I’d rather look chubby on screen and like a person in real life.” — Mirror
As admirable as these campaigns are, a closer look reveals a less romantic reality.
It all boils down to body shaming. Instead of body shaming fat girls, these campaigns shame skinny girls for, well, being skinny. So what if some girls are naturally skinny? Living in Singapore, Asian girls tend to be naturally smaller in built. Are we any less human? Is womanhood granted based on our fat percentages?
Isn’t it ironic when these campaigns also preach against the cookie cutter definition of beauty?
Why does beauty have to be a comparison? No doubt everyone at some point in their lives are guilty of making such comparisons. In a culture that feeds external validation, it is a struggle to avoid comparing yourself with others to determine your self-worth. I admit: walking into a room of strangers, I would not truly feel beautiful enough unless I was considered above the conventional average.
The problem doesn’t solely lie in these people or their campaigns. Instead, the problem lies in the common tendency to seek external validation, to rely heavily on others to feel beautiful and valued. Gaining confidence and self-esteem at the expense of another group of women should not be the solution. Here at Made Real, we do not believe or preach that fit girls are hotter or curvy girls are sexier or skinny girls are the best, purely because it doesn’t matter what the girl next to you looks like. It only matters what you feel about yourself.
In my experience with Made Real, many people have asked: aren’t you telling girls to change their bodies through eating right and working out such that they can love themselves more?
No. Of course not.
We are encouraging everyone to face their insecurities and work on them in a positive manner so as to achieve acceptance and love for themselves wholly, flaws included.
We could be part of a much happier and more progressive society if beauty is redefined as being the best version of yourself (aka, self-actualization). Love yourself because it celebrates who you are and helps you become who you want to be. Not because you look better than the girl next to you, whatever the beauty trend may be.
Team Made Real
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