body image

Fixer Upper

If you’ve been following along with my blog for a while, then you probably know about some of my past struggles with body image, food, and over-exercising. If you’re new here, I shared my past experiences with dieting and body dysmorphia in my second-ever blog post

While I’ve worked hard to combat these thoughts and heal my relationship with food and my body, I’ve learned that these battles will never be completely gone. Thanks to toxic diet culture (*coughketocough*), impossible beauty standards (@kyliejenner), and celebrities sharing what they eat in a day (I don’t remember asking), we live in a society that is focused on remodeling and fixing ourselves to an ever-evolving picture of “perfection”. 

In the 1950’s, “perfection” was curvy like Marilyn Monroe. This was so deeply desired that companies used celebrities to advertise liquid formulas meant to promote weight gain in “the right areas”. 

In the early 1990’s, thin was in. So much, in fact, that the ideal beauty standard came to be known as “heroin chic”, resembling an emaciated and malnourished form. Take a second to think about how problematic it is to associate a desired body type with a drug addiction. 

The late 1990’s to the early 2000’s was the era of Victoria’s Secret. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, but let me paint you a picture anyway: tall, thin, and full-chested. This was similar to having “curves in the right places” like the fifties, but the only acceptable form of fat were boobs. It was the age of push-up bras and breast implants.

During the late 2010’s to now, the term “slim thick” has circulated mainstream media as the Kardashians have grown as one of the most influential families in the world. You know what’s hot right now: big butt, big breasts, and a tiny waist. While this is some women’s natural body type, it is just as unattainable as “heroin chic” for others. I’ll give myself as an example. I’ve played sports and danced all my life, and my natural body type is a pretty athletic and straight up and down build. The idea that my bodily proportions could morph into something completely different just isn’t possible. 

The new “slim thick” ideal has been disguised as an attribute to the body positivity movement, yet it’s just another rendition of having “fat in the right places” that the fifties championed. Celebratory music like “Anaconda” that was released in 2014 by Nicki Minaj have contributed to this. If you watch the music video here, you’ll see that the body types shown are completely different from “heroin chic”, but it could be argued that they’re just as unattainable.

The thing about these trends is that no one ever wins. What is considered “perfect” today won’t be as desirable tomorrow. No matter what fad diet, exercise regimen, or procedures we chase after to obtain what is “in” at the moment, we will always end up chasing after something else. It’s a losing battle. 

The only way to stop this vicious cycle is to stop looking at our bodies as trends. No matter if we fit into what is considered “hot” or not, the only way to take back control is to remind ourselves that are bodies are not objects to be transformed, and most certainly not experimental canvases for whatever miracle waist trainer or tummy tea is being thrown at us by companies only looking to make money. Companies that prey on our bodily insecurities in order to sell us these products do not get to have the power if we don’t let them. 

If you think about Home Living stores, you’ll notice that every season, new trends for design, landscaping, and furniture are being released. This is being done with the expectation that a new side table will inspire a whole new living room makeover, which will lead to an add-on patio in the back of the house, and so on. The Home Depot and Ashley Furniture aren’t releasing new products because they are personally invested in the appearance of your living space. They’re doing it to make money off of the consumer desire to obtain a trend. That’s why all trends exist in the first place, including for our bodies. So companies can make money.

(Don’t worry, I don’t think remodeling your house is that deep. It’s just a metaphor.) 

The different is that our bodies are not houses to be remodeled, but permanent homes. They are a vessel for life experiences. We spend our lives in them whether it’s traveling, learning new things, raising a family, or simply just being. So let’s each learn to love our home, because they aren’t fixer upper’s to be remodeled based on what is trendy.  

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