The female body image
Ryan Summerlin April 6, 2010
Ahead of me walked a woman on the arm of a man, turning to enter Pinons, a fine restaurant. Her legs were so tightly wrapped in blue jeans, their diameter seemed to match that in the puff of her lips. To enhance thin, stiletto-heeled boots made a man’s arm mandatory. The reality that you can’t be too rich or too thin lives on.
Indeed, fashion models much in evidence during recent Fashion Weeks, magazines or store windows tell this woman she’s got it – this thin-as-a-pin body image. I query how do these visuals process? Give up? Don’t eat. You’re not good enough. Don’t like your body. The reply is too often a buy-in. I wish but don’t know how to look like that. Sizing reinforces this dismay. For example, Size Large often fits as if a size 8 or 10.
Six-year-olds diet. Nine-year-olds are anorectic. Female teenagers filling out to be shapely recoil at their body image so divergent from the omnipresent “model” look and size. Said a healthy 30-something: “As a teenager, I wore a boy’s large lacrosse shirt half way to my thighs to hide my body. I still don’t like my fat bottom.” Oh woe! For this size 6, her eye is trained by the ever-prevalent size zero – even into her 30s.
My commendation goes to the ski company female pro instructor uniforms. They show female children that healthy bodies in comfortably-sized clothes are a norm. Criticisms of the uniform are legendary – porous, ill-fitting and androgynous. True perhaps. More important is their counterpoint to the model image. In masking some body shape, they keep a child’s focus on mimicking the instructor’s skill and movement and less on diameters of torso and legs – so unrealistic and oppressive in portrayal and in far too many instances.
I wonder what that woman ate from Pinons’ delicious menu.
Cheryl L. Tennille