September 28, 2016

Assessing sizeism at its seams: denouncing the one-size-fits-all myth

When I say I want to eat healthier, please don’t tell me I look fine how I am. Don’t tell me I’m a “size zero,” and I don’t need to worry. For your information, that is not my pants size — if it were, I’d be underweight.

I’m happy with the size I am. When I say I need to eat more salads and fewer chips, I’m not talking about being thinner, but instead being healthier and more energized. This has nothing to do with a body-image issue.

Bodies change, just like personalities and perspectives. One’s identity is in a constant state of flux, so to define oneself by one size is to deny this natural change.

Using size as a compliment is offensive, because it implies there is a connection between weight and attractiveness.

Health and weight correlate differently within each individual — there is no single standard for both that can be applied to everyone. What is a healthy weight for one person is not necessarily the same for another.

Your medical doctor doesn’t ask you what pants size you’re wearing. He or she doesn’t compare your body to the models in magazines or other girls at school. Your doctor wants you to be the weight that is healthy for you. We all have unique body types, genes and personal aesthetics. A “size zero,” if we must use this term, is healthy and beautiful for some people, but it is certainly not a universal standard.

BodyType1BodyType2BodyType4BodyType3

In 2005, North Carolina State University conducted a study of American female body types. Although women’s forms are numerous and varied, there are four major types that attempt to classify them: 

1) The shape in which the ratio of bust, waist and hips size is equal, or “banana”
2) Broad shoulders and narrow hips, or “apple”
3) Broad hips and small bust, or “pear”
4) Narrow waist with an equal bust-to-hips ratio, or “hourglass”

Despite all these diverse body types, most mannequins and clothes are made for that last eight percent of women.

This is one of the main reasons why negative body images, eating disorders, harmful diets and self-esteem issues are so prevalent in our society. We perpetuate this lie of one size, one weight, one body type to fit them all.

We are not defined by company-constructed jean sizes that change from store to store — we define ourselves. There is no reason why we shouldn’t revel in the uniqueness of our bodies and the diversity they give to the concept of beauty. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to preserve a healthy weight. What’s wrong is the idea that there is only one.

 

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