Opinion: Stop Telling Women Their Bodies Suck

Opinion: Stop Telling Women Their Bodies Suck

By Opinions | The Trent on September 16, 2014

by Jenny Block

Your body isn’t good enough. But, don’t worry. You can cover up that gross thing and all its flaws with the right clothes.

That’s the latest message from Shape Magazine. Full disclosure: I know and adore the author of this piece. She is a gorgeous, brilliant girl and one hell of an athlete, which is why the piece she just did for Shape makes me even sadder.

It’s titled “5 Common Body Goals That Are Unrealistic.” I was downright thrilled when I saw the title. Yippee! Someone is going to tell young women to stop looking for Photoshop standards in their own mirrors.

Sigh. Drat. Curses. Foiled again.

Instead, it was a list of why you should never hope to achieve the standards that are being set by media in your own real life. But that instead, you can use clothing to do your best to live up to them anyway.

This is Shape Magazine we’re talking about. There are no exercises in the piece. No empowering words about how idiotic these standards are. Just the sad news that your body likely will never live up to the ideals. So, go to the mall and buy more crap to cover up the sad version of a body you’ve been given! Now!

Not “genetically blessed” enough to have the beloved thigh gap?

‘Most women who have large thighs normally have a very defined waistline, so the best thing they can do is accentuate that area to create that natural hourglass figure.’ Pair the snug bottom with a boat neck top to counterbalance the hip-to-shoulder ratio and emphasize that va-va-voom figure.

Counterbalance? What am I? Some sort of engineering experiment? In other words, forget the jeans and shorts. Someone will see your thighs touch. Get thee to a skirt store! Maybe no one will notice your fat thighs if they notice your counter balancing skills instead.

Natural? Natural? Seriously. I’m not even going to say anything. I’ll just let the irony of using that word in this article dig the required grave.

Too inadequate to be born with V cut abs?

A wrap dress with some ruching can work wonders. ‘People won’t know whether it’s your abs or the dress’ says Raes, who recommends looking for a v-shaped mitered stripe pattern to help pull off the illusion. Look for pieces that are going to help hold you in (a little Lycra goes a long way).

How stupid are the people you’re hanging out with? And why are they looking at you so closely? Are those V cut abs, or is that dress just ruching divinely?” So now V cut abs are the rule and every other body is the exception and we all have to run out and buy wrap dresses to fool the masses?

I love my vintage wrap dresses, but I wear them because it feels like I’m still in my bathrobe, not because I’m trying to fool you into wondering about what’s under it. (Spolier alert. Not v cut abs…)

Not lucky enough to be able to get toned arms? “A flattering cap sleeve shapes the top of your arms and can help optically broaden the shoulder line to create a narrowing effect on the bottom half of the body, Raes says, making your arms look slimmer. A wider or higher neckline will also aid in this cause.

Quick! Cover up your arms! Someone might see! And then what? People would know you have a job and a life and a family and that following inane, archaic standards of beauty are not the center of your universe? Ahhh! Call the body police!

Unlucky enough to have intestines and not a concave stomach?

Stripes, patterns, and seams that move on a diagonal as well as diagonals themselves are all super slimming, Raes says. Her other secret weapon: Spanx. “We see shapewear as this very uncomfortable, restrictive garment, but a light shapewear…can make you feel contained and confident.

Wrong. Shapewear is uncomfortable and restrictive and keeps women in their place. Immobile and hating their bodies that have to be put in sausage casings in order to be deemed acceptable. And contained? Contained? That’s the last thing I want to feel. I want to feel open and exhilarated and wild. Contained is the last thing on my list. I take that back. It’s not even on my list.

Narrow hips and small butt eluding you?

For an instant butt lift, wear denim with back pockets that sit rather high up at the top of your derriere, Raes recommends, but watch their angle. ‘When pockets are angled too far down at the bottom, they can create the impression of a lower, wider butt,’ she warns. And opt for a high rise. “When the waist hits higher, it emphasizes your natural hip curve, and then your butt won’t look short and saggy,” she explains.

Warns? Sounds like a flu shot message. Wide hips and a large butt may result in your being a bad person, so be sure to cover them up with optical illusion like clothing. Besides, nothing says sexy like high-waisted mom jeans. Got that, my friends? Cinch those babies up and everyone will see a super model instead of the mess you actually are. Get to the mall! Stat!

I’m not going to lie. This article did not come at the good time. I’m 10 pounds over where I like my weight to be. I’m only five feet tall and spending all of my time writing instead of adventuring, while eating what makes me feel lousy but seems like a good idea at the time, gets me in trouble fast.

But I’m not looking to look like Giselle. I’m looking to feel comfortable in my skin. I don’t like to feel weighed down by unhealthy pounds. I am not looking to meet some arbitrary standards that are designed to sell us sh*t.

Let me say that again: Standards of beauty are set in order to sell us sh*t. Period. That is the ONLY reason for them.

Healthy bodies are healthy bodies. You know what your healthy weight and shape is. And if you don’t, ask a doc who you trust. You know when you’re eating for fuel. You know when you’re getting exercise. This isn’t rocket science. But it certainly is war.

I am an intelligent, evolved woman and yet, I catch myself worrying about my body and what other people think about it and whether those extra pounds mean I’m lazy and worthless and gross. It’s shocking to me that I can be so brainwashed despite my hyper-awareness of and vigilance about the issue.

It’s insidious. And imagine what it’s doing to women who aren’t so insanely aware of just how insidious it is.

So f*ck that and f*ck the industry that spends billions to make me feel that way. I’m going to eat and exercise as I see fit. I’m going to dress for comfort and style. And I am absolutely, positively not going to go shopping in order to trick someone into believing I have a body that only 12-year-old girls and a few genetic freaks actually have and a lot of corporations totally abuse in order to separate me from my money… and my dignity.

Jenny Block is a columnist and author of ‘Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage’. She can be reached on Twitter @Jenny_Block. This post was first published on HuffPost.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.


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