As children, some girls grow up admiring Barbie and her long, gorgeous hair. As teenagers, they worship Britney and her amazing abs. Even well into adulthood women flip through their quarterly Victoria’s Secret catalog analyzing every inch of Tyra Banks’ flawless body, comparing it to their own. Why do so many women accept the ridiculous standard of perfection placed before them? No matter what the explanation, it is time to say goodbye to the Barbie doll image forced upon women and hello to a new era of curves, thick thighs, and yes, even a ghetto booty.
Part of saying goodbye to the ever-so-popular princess of plastic and her stick figure accomplices is exposing their falsehoods. In 1997, the Wall Street Journal printed an article contributing to this exposure. “It’s estimated that if Barbie were a real woman, she would have measurements of 38-18-34.” Unrealistic? Yes. Interestingly enough, models from the Victoria’s Secret Angel Collection came close, averaging a bust measurement of 36 with a matching hip measurement. Though these extreme measurements make up less than 10 percent of the female population, the majority of women hold them as the standard of beauty, and are left depressed and insecure when they don’t measure up.
So, what’s a girl to do? Well, for starters, take off those rose-colored glasses, put on some bifocals and get a closer look at the misconception behind the media. Whether the media wants to admit it or not, women will always come in different shapes and sizes. Meanwhile, the models continue to shrink as the standard model size shrinks. A standard size or standard measurement is a guideline that the models must maintain in order to be in fashion shows or magazines. This is because of the size of the clothes that the designers provide for fashion shows and photo shoots. In the 1980s, the standard sample size was a 6 or 8; in the past five years, sample sizes have decreased to a 2 or 4.
Along the same lines, the models of the ’50s and ’60s averaged 5-feet 8-inches and 132 pounds compared to today’s average of a lengthy 5-feet 10-inches and a light 110 pounds.
That’s 40 pounds lighter and 4 inches taller than the average U.S. woman, and yet these are the women that define beauty in our culture.
These are the women who make it hard for women to accept their figures.
Because the women we see in the media don’t have cellulite on their thighs. Their stomachs are flat as boards and placed perfectly under a set of breasts that don’t droop. Models and celebrities always maintain a perfect tan and never get a zit. They are far from realistic. Remember, their body type makes up 10 percent of the female population.
On top of that, they have a hairstylist, a make-up artist, and their clothes chosen for them. If they have a flaw, like a pimple or some visible cellulite, it is simply airbrushed away. Once again, ladies, it is time to let go of this falsehood and embrace a womanhood that is real.
Though BeyoncÃ© Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Queen Latifah exist in a world of airbrushing, makeup artists and great lighting, these women bring to the media something that has almost become taboo — curves. If nothing more, they at least send a message that beauty can be found in your curves, as long as you don’t try to hide them.
We are the real “women.” We get zits, our thighs jiggle, our stomachs bloat and our breasts aren’t always sitting pretty. The trick behind discovering the beauty in the midst of all this is to nurture your body, love every inch of it and be proud of it. Take care of it with exercise and a healthy diet. Studies repeatedly show that exercise is related to a better body image, and a better body image leads to confidence. Confidence and self-awareness take on a beauty on their own. Stand proud in the eye of the media hurricane, and know that you represent 90 percent of the female population. Represent us well: confident, self-aware, sometimes curvy, sometimes flabby, but always beautiful — anything less isn’t a real woman.
Dayna Davidson is the group and fitness supervisor at the Campus Recreation Center and is a senior majoring in wellness andleadership with a minor in professional writing. She can be contacted for questions or comments at TalkHealth@hotmail.com