Should models, adverts and mannequins depict the shape and size of ‘real’ women?
I’m sure every one of you will have an opinion one way or the other. I haven’t researched it loads as I wanted this post to come from my heart, as a woman, not from a bunch of figures and statistics. The following is the only statistic I need to quote for a reference point.
Year on year the population is getting larger, in the UK, France, the US… everywhere that enjoys a similar lifestyle and behaviours. Apparently 45% of British women are dress size 16 or more while the average female waist has grown seven inches since 1951*.
This is not about body shaming, far from it! For those that follow me, you know I’m all about loving and accepting your body – warts, lumps, bumps, stretch marks and all. However what concerns me is the pressure to have larger models, mannequins and the like being much larger than they currently are in an effort to demonstrate the new ‘normal’. Hear me out…
We know populations are getting larger. We know the culture of fast food, processed food, excesses of sugar, reduced exercise etc. are largely to blame. We know this and many of us in the health and wellness industry are working hard to help people to take back control of their health and weight which somehow got lost in today’s fast past society. This growing population is not good but it’s nothing to do with weight, my concern is health!
I often share on Facebook, images or videos of larger women who are incredibly fit and healthy, doing yoga poses I couldn’t ever imagine getting into, or running distances that leave me out of breath just thinking about it. I admire these amazing women, so like I say, my arguments have nothing to do with size, but I work in the industry, I’m expected to recognize the difference!
What about everyone else? In my experience women know if they are healthy or not, they know if they are at an unhealthy weight for them or not, they know if they exercise or not and they know if they eat healthy whole foods or not. Knowing it and taking any action required however are very different things (which is why people come to me). So what if you are someone who doesn’t know how to make the changes and it’s all too overwhelming? Suddenly a size 16 model becomes the norm, so in your mind you’re now not as bad as you thought, phew, less pressure to tackle those issues. And if you creep up to a size 18, well, that’s not so bad, it’s only one size above normal ….
Can you see where I’m going with this? I agree that there are ridiculously skinny models and mannequins out there that particularly cause damage to young girls. Absolutely this must be addressed and I know it is happening slowly. And I absolutely agree that if you are shopping in a clothing store specifically catering for larger sizes, yes, you need to see realistically sized models to represent the products accurately. But general fashion, advertising and so on, no, my feelings are that we should not stray too far for fear that larger women who are not healthy, will stop trying. It doesn’t make sense to be hearing that we need to cut out the sugars, processed foods etc., in order to lose weight, but on the other side be promoting larger sizes as normal. That’s just confusing.
What I would like to see however is more promotion in the media of larger women who are fit and healthy – inspiring other women to do the same for themselves. To cultivate a healthy attitude, a respect for your body, to want to do the best for it, for you.
Most often, as a result of this new found respect, the weight will fall off anyway, but if it doesn’t (often due to medical causes and medication), I want women to feel confident that although they don’t have the ‘perfect’ body, whatever that is, they know they are the healthiest, best version of themselves, with reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer etc.
What goes on in the fashion world, in the magazines, in the shops… it’s not relevant unless you let it be, so let’s stop focusing attention there and invest in yourself instead. Size doesn’t matter but you do!
What are your thought on this? Do you feel that larger models and mannequins should become more commonplace or do you feel like me that it could encourage women to neglect their health further?
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