The Skinny on Being Normal

29 Jan

By now, most of you have heard of Aerie’s campaign to use “Normal” girls as their underwear models. These girls’ bodies are not photoshopped and shown just as they are naturally. The standard praise and typical backlash has thus followed over the past few weeks. My opinion? Great marketing, bro!! I think it’s smart to show girls how bras will fit them based on the size they actually are, and not just how the model looks wearing it.

I’m not writing to discuss the pros and cons of using plus sized vs normal sized vs thin sized models in advertisements. They each have their place. I believe it is society’s job to give every girl the self-confidence they need to appreciate a healthy body type – wherever that may fall. However, something I saw on facebook troubled me a little bit.

My cousin, who yes, is quite overweight, and is not aware that I’m writing this, or even that I have a blog, posted the following status: “I think it’s great and all having models that are not stick thin, but please stop calling them “Plus Sized”. I haven’t seen one that is above a size 12. The average size in America is a 16. So, really, it’s just “Normal Sized”. Which, is great! But I think “Plus Sized Model” should start where they do in stores-a size 20.”

First thoughts? I somewhat agree. A size 8 (or whatever) model shouldn’t be considered “Plus” because that is generally a perfectly healthy body type. People don’t look at you as a “size”, they look at you as a person. But even so, studies have shown that a size 16 is not necessarily a “healthy” average to be at. (Yes, I do understand that it depends on the individual.) But on top of this, I was more-so bothered by a comment she later posted on this status: “It’s very disappointing and I don’t want anyone growing up in this. It’s just getting worse AND FAKER. Which is ridiculous because we’re getting bigger.”

This is where I really started disagreeing. I don’t like “excuses” when it comes to how you look. Sure, there are cases where you simply can’t help gaining and losing some weight. But most of us have control over what we put into our bodies and how active we choose to be. Since coming to DC, I’ve noticed that I have become less healthy. As a result, I’m trying to be pro-active by living a better lifestyle. So don’t for a second think I will use the excuse of what’s “normal” to justify increasingly tighter pants…

We live in a world where there is fat shaming, unrealistic role-models, and low self-esteem. And let me be clear… I am NOT promoting any of that. However, we also live in a world where “average” can be synonymous with overweight. Did you know that women’s waistlines have grown 6 inches over the past 60 years? People assume that this new normal is not a cause for concern. Just because those around them are heavier, that must mean it’s okay for them too. Shouldn’t we start changing this mindset?

Because we’re getting bigger”… This downright bothers me. I’m not ignorant to the growing obesity rate (especially among children) in this country. And the excuse “because we’re getting bigger” is at least partially to blame. I’m not saying you can’t eat a bag of M&M’s, a Twix, and a German Chocolate Brownie one afternoon, because Hi, I just did! But know your body’s limits! I can snack like a champion, and I love binge eating cheese, but I am also quite aware of the benefits of an active lifestyle and healthy foods. You shouldn’t wake up one day, realize you’re 10 lbs heavier, sigh and say,”No big deal! I’m still below the average size!”

I love confidence. I love that women have increasing confidence in their bodies. But there is a line that we are treading dangerously close to crossing. Beauty encompasses all shapes, sizes, and looks – and everything in between. And every girl, no matter what size dress they wear, should feel that they are beautiful – Because they ARE. But it is integral to promote a healthy lifestyle to all of these beautiful women. This need far exceeds just “looking good”. The whole reason this topic has me fired up is not because I feel we should be cookie-cutter people – it’s because I want us to live longer, and healthier. When we promote health (not looks), we can also start cutting back on heart problems, diabetes, cholesterol, etc. There is such a thing as being “too fat”, just like there is such a thing as being “too skinny”, and each come with their own line of problems. Most importantly, there is a thing called self-control. And I think America needs to start remembering that.

America is getting bigger. We’re getting more and more unhealthy. And the excuse that this is the new normal is only going to make matters worse. I’m not saying we should all look like models, or professional athletes… But we should be more aware of what is happening around us. We need to promote a different kind of normal: Simply put, a healthy one – which will bring so much more life and confidence to girls. Because what can be more beautiful than that?

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