Less Is Not More

I'm surrounded by numbers in my life. My body is always surrounded by them, at the minute 3.5, 49, 14, as I continue my meander down the scales. Weight loss seems to be around me all the time, people talking about it, writing about it, condemning others for having gained weight, admonishing themselves for their gains. We're obsessed. I have a really strange relationship with my losses. Although in many ways I'm happy to continue down the scales and I enjoy being healthy I have really mixed feelings about weight loss obsession.

My weight loss represents pieces of myself which have been taken away and although I should rejoice I partly do and partly don't. To be less, smaller is an odd fascination in itself. We encourage, bigger bank accounts, bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger hair, bigger shoes, bigger stars, bigger sales, bigger profits, bigger jewels, bigger lips, bigger breasts, bigger parties, bigger lifestyles. Yet the source of that, the self is pressured to be smaller. As a woman it's be tinier, look more fragile, more ethereal, vulnerable...beautiful.


Photo Credit (Disney)

Equating female beauty with a Thumbelina reading on size is somewhat reductive but when we look closely it is an encouragement constantly for women to be smaller. And more to the point be striving to be as small as possible. There is very little encouragement on the other side of the fence for very small girls to put on weight (why should there be, if you're naturally slim more power to you). But there are so many baying messages to be smaller it is a veritable cacophony, one that leaves me nearly deafened.

The size zero phenomenon is an interesting one, with outright medical condemnation it still is an alarmingly popular aspiration. Now I'm not talking about girls who have fast metabolisms and who are that weight regardless of what they eat, but rather the girls who struggle and strive to get themselves to unnatural sizes for an adult woman. When you're struggling and trying to keep to the minimum possible calories, it affects your whole body, but yet somehow this is celebrated? It's glamorised to be tiny, to be able to fit into the vintage designer clothes which were created for a different body entirely.

I'm not challenging people's natural size, or those wanting to exercise to be healthier, but rather the size that is thrust upon an entire slew of women. The message is always 'be smaller'. How many of us have thought to ourselves 'I'm sure I'd feel better about myself if I was smaller, if I could wear whatever I wanted'. Sound familiar? Would we be happier?

What I am challenging is the constant narrative which exists in popular culture at the moment which is 'be smaller, be happier'. I have many issues with this, as a concept itself the act of belittling oneself, literally, by making yourself smaller and smaller strikes me as detrimental to the overall psyche. In a world where women's rights to their bodies are seemingly being eroded more and more this cannot continue. The sabotage on us all by an irresponsible press and unrealistic fashion designers who treat women as little more than dolls in the ideal cannot be allowed to go on. They are our bodies, we should not be governed by the ideal that the most expensive, glamourous clothes are only for the tiny, thus equating the smallest with the most fashionable and consequently the most beautiful, which is a nonsense and a fallacy.

 Making larger girls struggle to find clothes is a similar issue, it says 'we don't want you in our clothes' resulting in larger girls feeling like they're not good enough, not allowed to be fashionable. Because that is what it is, it is a barring of the door. I've been every size under the sun from a 12 to a 20 and let me tell you as a 16 I've struggled to find clothes that fit me well as a tall girl. And so the message is distilled again 'if you were smaller you would be happier, you would have more choice, you would look better in the clothes'. We internalise that, we think the problem is us, that WE must change ourselves, when in fact the problem is the clothes. It is the fact that it has become acceptable to decide how women must look by cutting them off from fashion if they stray above a certain size like a slap to the wrist.

The fault cannot be laid at the door of just fashion though. The media play an odd game of fence jumping which may be more at home on a race course . One minute a star is too thin, the next she's perfect. In jeans and a t-shirt, she's emblazoned with captions 'skinny star wastes away'. A week later on the red carpet she is 'absolutely perfect' and lauded for that An actress can have a 'huge weight gain crisis' and yet a week later be 'celebrating gorgeous curves'.
This is why, in part I don't read magazines anymore. It is utter nonsense. It seems odd also that even those writers who are making the judgements about these women don't know from one minute to the next what their opinions are on the whole thing. Could it be, perhaps that they don't know what they think? That no-one has a clue what is 'good' or 'beautiful' anymore without waiting to be told.

I don't believe in this reductive 'one size fits all' mentality toward women's bodies. I don't believe it is necessary or in any way helpful to hold up an imagined airbrushed image of beauty and ask, nay demand, that women follow suit.You see I have a problem with trying to make less of myself. It seems so contradictory to me but yet I do it so that I can have choice in what I wear or so that I can fit into the world around me, not be stared at in a negative way or not be made fun of.

Somehow it's worked out that I must make less of myself to be more of a person. To pursue the goal of making oneself less, smaller, less imposing, the pathological need and the overbearing message that in women smaller is better. Somehow if one can make oneself tiny and unassuming the war is won. Instead women who are taller or bigger are branded unfeminine, unattractive, disgusting and god forbid you're both. The quest to essentially become so tiny you fail to exist, to have the proportions of a child is somehow lauded. What a step to create a demand for women with the presence of a child. The size zero phenomenon that gives childlike dimensions and a lack of menstrual cycle surely cannot be celebrated? Whatever happened to natural? To being the size your body is happy at? Until women's bodies are not seen as commodities to be shaped and influenced the demands will not abate.

Be healthy, be happy. Do not make less of yourself.

Much Love and Happiness





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