Hey there fashion lovers!
You’d have thought -being in 2014 and all that- as a collective of people living on Earth we would’ve gathered that people come in different shapes and sizes. Clearly not. It’s almost saddening that I feel like I need to express my feelings on this ‘weighty’ (excuse the pun) issue but I feel that to ignore a topic which is so blatantly there would be wrong. Whether you agree or disagree with what I write below, I hope you at least HAVE an opinion on this matter and I would love to here it.
For decades now the fashion industry has ‘attempted’ to address the issue surrounding size. They even introduced and made ‘plus size modelling’ more mainstream. (My opinion on the whole plus size modelling thing is that it’s an absolute joke. Plus size starts from size 14 apparently and in a few cases size 12 – is that really right? The average size of a woman in the UK is apparently size 14 so technically these models are ‘average size’ not ‘plus size’. But hey, that could be a whole separate blog post).
So I’ve spent the last few years hearing about the changes to the fashion industry regarding size and have of course witnessed many a conversation regarding weight/size in school (that’s girls classes for you!). The ‘body’ trends come and go every two seconds – thigh gaps, collar bones, back dimples, big boobs, thick thighs…. the list is endless. The fixation on one anothers weight is laughable – people are admired for fitting into a certain category which is no doubt the latest ‘body’ trend. It seems like it’s everyone else’s duty to label each other, body compliments are said frequently, ranging from ‘you’ve got nice legs’ to ‘I can’t believe how slim you are!’. The worst part of all comes when the self comparison and future dreaming is done. “I wish my waist was as small as yours”, “I would kill to have your long legs”.
However much I had come across this self doubt and self criticism regarding weight, there was one clear moment when the scale of the problem hit me. To give you a bit of context behind the situation – as you all probably know I teach swimming, mostly to kids between 4 and 11. To get the younger kids out of the pool we are shown how to correctly aid them by lifting them up. I began aiding each swimmer out of the pool and I got to the last one. Once I lifted her out she turned to me and said ‘It’s hard lifting me out because I’m heavier’. To get this straight a five year old girl made a comment about her own size, labeling herself as ‘heavy’. In actual fact she wasn’t heavy AT ALL. She wasn’t overweight, fat, podgy, big boned and all those other words surrounding the word ‘heavy’. She was a normal sized five year old girl. What was I supposed to say to this? I was shocked.
They always talk about how women in the media influence young girls and I always thought this was a bit exaggerated. I assumed that people had enough common sense to realise that these women had people working for them in order to look how they did and that many photos seen were actually photoshopped, that special lighting was used to create the perfect look, etc. I never once stopped to think that people who don’t know how to read a page or write a sentence could be influenced. With more and more things being open to a younger audience -whether that’s watching X Factor or seeing a magazine- the age of influence also decreases.
Sadly we’ve become a nation fixated over the number on the scales instead of our actual health. Five year old girls should be having fun, being careless and not knowing about the world yet – not worrying about their body size. There’s such a clear problem with our generation and if I’m truly honest I don’t know how it can be solved. All I know is the influence the media has is much more wide-scale than first thought, in my opinion government should prioritise this as a problem to be dealt with. I hope we can all make our own stand as well- let’s get off the topic of body image and weight and talk about something more deeper.