The Normalizing of Body Diversity
I woke up today to see that three of my friends had shared a photo on Facebook of Myla Dalbesio’s Calvin Klein campaign with the bold white words “CALVIN KLEIN’S FIRST plus size model”. Thankfully, all three friends that shared this were outraged at the photo. As they should have been…. Myla Dalbesio is a size 10. Typically, within the fashion industry this means that her bust measures at 36″, her waist 28″, and her hip 40″. Yes, a girl with curves indeed, but I don’t know if I would go as far to say plus size.
Please do not mishear me and think that I am shaming plus size. I am so happy that the industry is seeing positive growth in this area, and that we are beginning to see curvier, softer figures in the media. My plus size homegirls need to see their bodies in the media too! They need to know that they’re gorgeous and sexy. What I am asking and petitioning for, is not less plus size models, or less “regular-sized” models, but for more MEDIUM-SIZED, models. When more medium-sized models begin to appear in the media, it will provide balance for the industry and normalize medium-sized bodies.
A Quick Note: Plus size ranges from size 18 and up. A “normal size model ranges from 00-4. This leaves a large gap between the two, that the industry isn’t sure what to do with. Sizes 6-16 are what I classify as “medium-sized”, sometimes even called “in-betweeners”.
“I can never figure out where I fit in, and I’m always making someone mad. I’m not skinny-skinny, but I’m not fat and fabulous either. I’m a size 10. There’s been a whole public outcry about me not being as big as people think I should be. They say, ‘What do you have to complain about? You have a great body.’ But if you’re a size 6 or 10 (US), that doesn’t mean you don’t need to see yourself represented too.” -Myla Dalbesio
Maybe you read this, and it just seems like another body-love, self-acceptance rant to you. Good. Because it is. I remember the first time someone told me that I could be a plus size model. Those of you who know what I look like might be floored when you read that. I was dumbfounded when I heard it… I was confused. Because my measurements are actually really similar to Myla Dalbesio. My bust measures at 33 1/4″, my waist at 26 1/2, and my hips at 41 1/4″. That’s almost a 15″ difference between my hips and waist, and you better believe that I am proud of that difference. I got it from my mamma (like actually). But for so long those 15 inches that my Mother and God had given me- were a source of tension. American culture around me tells me that I shouldn’t have hips or thighs. That I should look like I did when I was 13, before puberty. This is absurd.. Why do we idolize youth to the point that we push our bodies to do things they were not made to do?! This idolization of youth and one body type has led to eating disorders (see 2 blog posts below), distorted body image, and self-loathing. Women (and men!) become fixated on numbers, on a scale or on measurements, when really their body’s natural resting weight is not _____* and anything less that that will be strenuous on their body to maintain. This is not just an issue with 20-somethings, 30-somethings, or 40-somethings. This is an epidemic infecting the young women and men in our country. The saddest thing you will ever hear is when a 12-year old tells you their greatest fear is getting fat.
So women AND men, do not accept the labels that you see around you. Do not accept the fashion industry as it is. Push for authenticity. Push for vulnerability. Demand change. We need body diversity, normalizing sizes 6-16. Maybe you want to see a girl who has a large bust and a round waist, and small hips and thighs with small legs in the media. I know I do. Men- maybe you want to see a “dad-bod” or a long, lanky guy covered in tattoos. I want to see a girl who looks like me, too, who has a smaller bust, smaller waist, and round hips and thighs in the media. This issue starts with us. Let’s watch our speech as we make references to our bodies and the bodies around us. Let’s speak positively about our bodies, and recognized that beauty is more than size and shape. Go out and tell the girl sitting next to you that you love her hair or her eyes. Go out and tell the guy at the coffee shop that he has a great smile or killer forearms. Let’s start to be real about our bodies- and not just for what they look like, but what they can do.
My body is made to laugh. My body is made to run. My body is made to make music. My body is made to sing, to dance.
My body is made to echo the stars, moon, and sun around me. My body is beautiful.
*I hesitated to put an actual number in the blank there. The reason being is that everyone’s body is uniquely different. I cannot stress that enough. I did not want a girl seeing what my natural resting weight is, and strive for it to be hers, when she may never be able to obtain that, living her life in strife and anxiety over obtaining “perfection” or a number.
Our bodies natural resting weight is based on so much more than a chart. It is ridiculous to go to a chart and based on your height, find your ideal weight. An “ideal weight” for a 5′ 10″ person can fluctuate as much as 50 pounds, depending on muscle mass, composition, and bone density. This isn’t even beginning to take into consideration, the factors that make you YOU, and your past growth height and weight percentiles. For example, if as a child, when you ate what you wanted when you wanted and were at a normal or little bit higher percentile, it will be harder for you to reach a lower percentile, based on the fact that your body is simply unused to that and not programmed to act that way. Quit trying to be someone else, and be unashamedly you.