Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Controversial Cracking Curves
 According to the Daily Mail, the average weight of a British woman is now 11 stone. In 1991, Miss Average weighed in at 10st 5lbs, but in thirteen years this has crept up to 11. But is this really a problem? Obesity and related health issues have been, and still are, at the forefront of societal health issues. Awareness is probably the highest it's ever been, so is this country-wide weight gain suggesting disregard  for universal health advice and information amongst the women of the UK, or a more universal satisfaction and acceptance that not all women are size 6?
 This is such a current phenomena, isn't it? This much contested issue of women's size, and the size which the media portrays and dictates to the women, teenagers, and even children is 'beautiful' plagues newspapers and magazines weekly. I am totally confident in saying that majority of girls from the ages of... 11 up perhaps, have and do think about themselves and how they look in a manner of comparison to what they see in the media. 
A report in The Independent from 2000 from a survey carried out, states that in a decade, average national dress size increased from a 12 to a 14. David Rowlinson, who co-ordinated the survey, said:
"Modern women are taller, with bigger frames, larger hips and breasts. There's nothing wrong with being a size 14, it's just the way most women are."
  In 2010, the average dress size was 16, and height is 5ft 4inches (Daily Mail)
  If we rewind to the fifties, (think Marilyn Monroe,) fashion trends, models and designers were all different. After WW2, Christian Dior's designs were at the height of fashion; embracing a very much hourglass figure. Moulded around the chest, and cinched in waist-wise, the clothes were very much exemplifying women and what the epitome of femininity was represented by. The hourglass, aptly named, where the waist comes in more than the hips and chest, was the most common body shape at that time, and Dior took advantage to create feminine pieces.
 The picture below shows the changes in female stats from 1950s women, and 2004 women...

But why is this? Development in food production and consumption is one of the main ways suggested a general growth in body size has occurred, with increased advertisement and accessibility to fast food. It would seem, however, that if more health and wellbeing information and support is available to people now, why are people getting bigger?

 Personally, I despise how society dictates what is, and isn't beautiful. It's the sad truth that looks often count for more than personality. I mean, on a first impression, seeing someone from across the room, you instantly see their appearance first, before their personality. And nobody can deny that this is the truth.  I think, and it sounds cliché, but so true, that confidence is a very attractive trait. You have to love yourself before you can comfortably let anyone else love you.. And the photos we so constantly see of stick-thin models make this self-confidence forever more difficult and distant.
Tara Lynn for H&M
 Tara Lynn, an American plus-size model, headed up an advertising campaign for H&M, broadening the audience and scope of the fashion store. This, as well as refreshing, exemplifies the reality of the size that is the average UK woman. I think that stores often miss out on sales, because not only do they advertise using models unrealistic to that of the average female consumer, but often the actual designs and items they produce do not allow for larger women. Even mannequins are often a size 4/6 to show off latest fashions. These are creating unrealistic goals for customers, creating a negative self comparison. (Dressing yourself accordingly to your size, however, is another blog post completely!)
I believe that all women, and men (albeit the situation slightly differs there), should, regardless of size, deserve to feel good in their own skin. Regardless of what the masses have been fed is 'attractive'. 
More recently, the 'curvier' members of society today have been praised for their approach to size and attitude to body size. For example, Adele, whether you love or hate her- nobody can deny the amazing talent she has for singing. And her confidence in her abilities and that's explicit from her voice, matches her seeming confidence within her own skin. She may not be a size 8, but she always looks beautiful- and this is regardless of her size. 
The issue raised by health campaigners and the NHS is the idea of staying fit and healthy. You can still be a size 18, and be healthy. A healthy diet and lifestyle is important to anyone, but a worry is often bigger people in general, (not just women) are 'comfortable' in their own skin, which is fantastic, but who somewhat bypass that it is still necessary to respect it by leading a healthy lifestyle. If you are a size 24 and you're happy with that- fine. If you're a size 14 and you want to work out because you're unhappy with that- fine! Your happiness and wellbeing is the important point throughout this.
There is a fine line between disregarding this healthy lifestyle, and claiming to be comfortable with your body, despite perhaps being overweight. I think the concentration of wellness campaigns should not be to aim to look like a celebrity, because after all, they're just people too but they're just famous- people just know who they are, but to be physically fit and healthy. Eating healthily, drinking plenty of water and getting exericise- even if it's just walking instead of getting the bus, are all steps which can be taken to help with healthiness. 

Ultimately, if you are happy, then that's what matters. If you are comfortable and love your skin, whether size 4 or size 34, then that's fantastic! People aren't generic. We're given bodies to characterise and make our own, and body shape is just another feature of how we create our personality. Despite this, however, it is worth making the point that leading a healthy lifestyle, whether you believe it or not now, will make you feel better in yourself, regardless of size. 
Here are a couple more links you might find interesting, with more stories and info on body-image, Tara Lynn and other plus-sized models and BMI... 

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