The Politics of Body Shape

Note: Images and videos belong to their respective owners. 

Two days ago, during a class I was taking in graduate school, a friend (let’s call her Friend A) and I were talking about her trip to Taiwan and the kinds of food she got from there. As I got up to buy dinner, another friend  (Friend B) of mine came in and asked Friend A if they could avoid going to McDonalds because she felt that she was getting fat. I could only do so much to avoid gawking at her because she was dressed nicely in a sleeveless shirt, defining her curves. Friend A had started complaining about how she needed to go on a diet because she felt that she was getting fat. Yet again, I kept my thoughts to myself as I went to the stalls to get my dinner. All throughout class, I regretted eating the food I ate because I felt that it would automatically make me look worse than I already did.

People around the world have banded together to address the issues that came along with being bigger than the normal individual. Sad to say that in 2016, normal seems to be defined by being a size 2 or 4 in any clothing store, or perhaps looking as good as Hollywood artists when they wear a bikini. In addition, some studies have shown that individuals tend to be biased towards better looking people when it comes to choosing the best candidates and the most outstanding person in whatever award is being presented at that instance.

I recall that my first taste of dieting was six years ago, when I weighed 140 lbs for a 5’2″ girl. At first, I understood that my mother made me go to badminton classes and restricted me from eating junk food at night for health reasons. However, once I dropped ten pounds and got into college, weight meant more than just something about health. It meant a standard for me, most especially when I saw that several of my college classmates were, in a way, the picture of an ideal body. In addition, I suddenly got called pretty once I lost the weight, and it became an addictive kind of behavior for me. This pretty much became one of my biggest triggers when it came to my illness, and I don’t think that I’m alone when I’m speaking about this.

It pleases me that there are several other women who have made it to international audiences who speak up not only on fat shaming, but also the other standards that women have started imposing on themselves in spite of the scientific evidence of the dangers of driving oneself to starvation and even excessive exercise. In the video below, Kelli Jean Drinkwater speaks up about how body image has changed the way that she looks at activities that have been defaulted to “the thin people”, and how she managed to rise in spite of this:

Last year, I started to see the emergence of skinny shaming, as the sudden #fitspiration became the new #thinspiration. My eyes were opened to my friends who would eat huge amounts of food to be able to gain weight, and would also go to the gym to transform themselves to curvy models comparable to celebrities like Beyonce and Jennifer Lawrence. I will not lie: I’ve initially scoffed at the idea of skinny shaming because I believed that they did not have to bear the common notion of what a “perfect” body is. However, I slowly began to see the sudden increase in insults towards skinny people and how they did not have anything compared to those who were broader.

This becomes a subject of concern because honestly, what is actually normal during this time? What is the main reason why so many people strive for a body that is honestly difficult to maintain if you only have one cheat diet or perhaps even skip one meal?

Perhaps body image doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but honestly? It probably is when billions of people around the world will still make it as such.


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