When you think of the original Hollywood bombshells of yesteryear, they were often buxom, voluptuous women known for their big curves. In recent years, it seems that the exact opposite is more desirable. Sure, there were women decades ago whose slender physiques could never match those of Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield but, at least, they weren’t being encouraged to change their bodies in a way that was unhealthy.
You would think that Karen Carpenter’s death, more than 30 years ago, would serve as a cautionary tale but it hasn’t. The young woman with the velvety voice died at just 32 years of age due to heart failure associated with anorexia nervosa. Yet, the media continues to embrace and perpetrate ideals that are unrealistic (or downright dangerous) for women to attain and maintain.
It’s a sad time when a woman, famous or not, gives birth and is immediately being asked when she will get her pre-baby body back. The focus is not on her safe recovery from pregnancy and childbirth, nor is it on her bonding with her newborn. Instead, celebrities like Kim Kardashian have been known to go into hiding until they have lost enough weight to be seen out in public again. Something needs to change and, fortunately, women are beginning to speak out.
When Glamour chose to include Amy Schumer in a “plus size” geared issue sponsored by Lane Bryant, the comedienne immediately took issue. No, she did not take offense by the suggestion that she wasn’t thin but, rather, pointed to the fact that, at a size 6, she hates the idea that young girls might see her body type and consider it “plus size.” Even most stores consider a size 12 and up to fall into that category so, she’s right – the implication is irresponsible.
Schumer, although not specifically named in the comments, received some support from actress, Melissa McCarthy, who posted on social media: “We have to stop categorizing and judging women based on their bodies. We are teaching young girls to strive for unattainable perfection instead of feeling healthy and happy in their own skin.”
The 45-year-old star of The Boss also shared a photo of a sign that said “Warning: Reflections in this mirror may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of ‘beauty'” and ended with the Gloria Steinem quote “Imagine we are linked not ranked.”
What a poignant and true message. When you think about how many websites geared for men come out with an annual “Hottest Woman Ranked 1-100” list, it’s almost a little shameful that we’ve let things get this far. The truth is that men in Hollywood are not held to the same standards for weight or age, for that matter.
A woman’s beauty is all-too-often tied to youth and being thin yet we are responsible for bringing new life into the world. Nothing will change and take a toll on a woman’s body more than pregnancy so how can we expect to do it all and still, magically, look the same for the rest of time?
It’s great that these women are speaking out because, whether it’s fair or not, we look to these public figures as role models and leaders. They could easily say nothing but, instead, they are doing something to raise awareness for their young fans. Women of all ages and sizes deserve to have a positive body image. Something has got to change and it must begin with you and me.