LOOKING FOR ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?
2.03.2010 by Amber M.
Amber M. is a our featured monthly columnist.
Nowadays, it seems almost impossible to feel good about our bodies – anorexic models are idolized, marketing for ‘quick-fix’ diet pills are at every turn, and the harshest judge of all is staring at us in the mirror. But does skin-and-bone thin equal beautiful?
Fast Fact: 8 million or more people in the US have an eating disorder. 90% are women. Value what you have and not what you seek to value.
According to history: absolutely not. In fact this trend of starving ourselves in order to be perfect has only become popular in the past few decades.
Fact Check: One of America’s most iconic beauties, Marilyn Monroe, had measurements of 37-23-36. In today’s sizes that equates to a size 10!
Throughout history, striking beauties with the power to sway any man to their cause
litter our textbooks. One of the most revered of these women was Cleopatra, whose more famous lovers include Roman emperors Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. However, Cleopatra wasn’t at all what we’d consider a modern beauty by any stretch of the imagination with her large nose, masculine chin, and voluptuous curves. So how did she attract the most powerful men in the world? Charisma, attitude, and confidence. She was willing to take risks and rather than being content with her image in spite of her features, she embraced them and used them to her advantage.
Fact Check: Did you know that during the Middle Ages being fat was a status symbol? At a time when manual-labor was the norm, having a few extra pounds signified that you were in a position of power.
During the Renaissance, women had little power. Most were married off as young as twelve, with little to no education, and as many as 1 in 200 died in childbirth, a high rate when you consider a normal woman during this age had an average of three to seven children... and sometimes more! In a world where women were forbidden to even own property, it’s amazing that one group of women were able to achieve such a high rank: courtesans, or entertainers of the royal courts, were given rights reserved only for men. For starters they were given an education – taught to read and write, often in two or three languages, they were also granted access to libraries which were forbidden to women during this time period. They were given property, allowed to own and sell houses, keep servants, and even publish books they had written. What is interesting about courtesans though is that it was not their beauty that attracted men to them, but their intelligence!
Fact Check: The diet industry (diet foods, diet programs, diet drugs, etc.) rakes in a yearly profit of $40 billion dollars every year.
True beauty has little to do with waist size and everything to do with personality. At a
time in history when African-American’s had few rights, Josephine Baker stepped up and strutted herself regardless. Renowned as a dancer, singer, and the first black woman to appear in an American motion picture; she became successful not because of her looks, but because of her talent. Her ability to cross the gender and race boundaries only served to propel her to fame – her fortunes affording her nothing less than a small castle in France. Despite her change of residence she still played an important role in the civil rights movement, using her image to make an impact in both France and America.
Fact Check: Anorexia has the highest mortality rate (up to a whopping 20%) of any psychiatric diagnosis.
So with all these models staring at us from the billboards, magazines, and television ads the average woman must be a size 0 right? Wrong. The average woman in America wears a size 14 dress! So what should we be doing in order to look good and feel good? A healthy exercise routine with at least four days of a 20 minute cardio routine can benefit you both short-term and long-term. Even on a diet you should make sure that your nutritional needs are met – this includes fruits, veggies, and protein but also dairy products which are especially important for women but are often forgotten. While it is important to keep an interest in looking your best it’s equally important to be confident in yourself and comfortable in your own skin. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a culture that seems obsessed with being thin – what we should focus on is keeping our bodies in shape according to modern health standards, not modern beauty standards which often leave our bodies at risk for multiple health issues. Joining a sports team, having group exercise days with a circle of friends, or even volunteering to walk the dog are all positive (and doable) changes you can make to kick start your health. Remember to focus on your positive features and not get caught up in comparing yourself to others – often times what we see as negative characteristics are what others view as our signature qualities!
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