The problem with society’s portrayal of beauty isn’t that it depicts skinny as beautiful, it’s that it singles out skinny as beautiful. But in order to try to fix this problem, many go in the complete opposite direction, stating that skinny is not, in fact, beautiful, or at least, the most beautiful. But why does curvy have to be more beautiful than skinny? Why can’t they both be beautiful? (obviously it’s a huge problem that there are women with eating disorders in the media shown as the ideal of beautiful, but I’m not talking about that in this case).
I’ve seen this picture posted around the internet and I originally thought, wow, I love this! But then I started thinking about it more and realized that by liking this picture, I’m actually hating on myself, in a roundabout way, for being naturally thin.
While I believe that beauty shouldn’t merely encompass one size ideal (skinny) it’s also complicated because by fighting this one size ideal, some people take it in the other direction, saying that skinny is unappealing and curves are better… I’m a pretty optimistic person and I believe most people don’t feel that way, but even I (a very open-minded person) instinctively went along with this image when I first saw it. On one hand it fights the stereotype that skinny = beautiful, but on the other hand, it’s sending an equally bad message.
I can’t comment on how healthy each of the women are in the top line of this picture, but I have reason to believe (from interviews I’ve read and watched) that Keira Knightly is naturally thin. In this picture, why is Keira Knightly any less sexy than Marilyn Monroe? Why do we always have to compare “who’s hotter”? They’re both very different, but in my opinion, both are beautiful. And that’s totally plausible. It shouldn’t be skinny versus curvy. We should be thinking about the fact that we’re being told that certain sizes are better than others, and that’s wrong. We shouldn’t be thinking “they tell us skinny is beautiful, but skinny is actually less beautiful than curvy.” That’s totally unhelpful! The focus should be on ameliorating unhealthy diets or lifestyles (i.e. obesity or eating disorders), and not necessarily size at all. In an ideal world, all models would be hired under very strict health-assessment guidelines, and we would see models of all different shapes and sizes everywhere. Some people are skinny and healthy, and some people are curvy and healthy.
Everyone is different, but somehow we have a herding mentality and all want to fall into this “accepted” group. With this photo, that means going with the idea that bigger is better and thin is less beautiful. It’s so hard not to fall into the trap of exclusionary ideals of beauty, and because of this, women are always being pitted against each other. We need to fight this with critical thinking! It’s the only way.