No one laughs at salad. And very few healthy people have thigh gaps or bikini bridges. So why do bizarro expectations of what women’s bodies should look like continue to be perpetuated? Lauren Carsley reports
Superdrug recently released a celebrity weight scale which listed celebrity weights to encourage women’s weight loss (they quickly took the product off the market due to pretty much everyone’s collective outrage). In light of this retrograde approach to women’s health, here is a list of ‘body trends’ invented to make us feel badly about our bodies and distract from our ultimate desire to eat a cheeseburger.
1. Bikini bridges
The body phenomenon where upon lying down flat on your back and of course, wearing a bikini, there is a gap in between your body and the fabric, creating a bridge of sorts between your two gaping hip bones (and no we’re not lending it one bit of credence by posting pictures here – ditto with Thigh Gap, below). Apparently, this is common enough to have become a hot topic of discussion on Instagram and in some tabloids. It’s even spawned a Tumblr page. Not cool, guys.
Does your body conform to the S-shape, meaning are you a woman with boobs and a significant bum like Kim Kardashian? Do you have a V-shaped face like Nicole Kidman, a body shaped like an X like Cara Delevigne, or the dreaded O-line which apparently isn’t so much a shape as it is being obese? This type of body alphabetization, where parts of the body are assigned categories based on the alphabet, is rampant in South Korea and is used to advertise all kinds of products, from beer to beauty. I guess on a good day I’m a sans serif T but a on a bad day I’m a Comic Sans lowercase b? This seems to be just another way to reduce women to objects.
3. Thigh gap
The antecedent of the bikini bridge, the thigh gap is another coveted body part (or lack thereof) when a gap forms between the thighs when you put your knees together. Cara Delevigne is reportedly responsible for catalyzing this trend so legions of women can thank her for their new source of insecurity.
4. Fat shaming
Everyone is insecure, which is why fat shaming, the act of calling people out for being overweight to make them feel badly about it, predominates in real life, in the media, and in fiction. It girl Jennifer Lawrence recently took it upon herself to call out how we as a society think it’s okay to call people fat or say a dress looks ugly on people we don’t even know just to make ourselves feel better about our insecurities or for the sake of a joke. Let’s hope more celebrities step out like this.
5. Thin shaming
The flip side to fat shaming is thin shaming. This is a phenomenon where celebrities (mostly women) are called out for being too thin. Celebrities like Keira Knightley, Victoria Beckham, and Calista Flockhart are labeled as ‘anorexic’ for having bodies which may or may not be naturally thin as a way to shame these women who are successful, famous, beautiful and rich, whereas meanwhile, you rarely see male celebrities being called out for having alternative body shapes.
6. Pregnancy weight shaming
Maria Kang stirred up crazy amounts of controversy when she posted a meme of herself with the caption ‘What’s Your Excuse?’, rocking six-pack abs alongside her three kids, proving just how quickly and easily she got fit after giving birth.
Kang was quickly vilified for her pregnancy weight shaming and quickly after it went viral issued an apology. However, this is not the first time this has been a thing. Over the last decade at least, whether intentional or not, celebrities moms have been portrayed as seemingly able to pop out babies one day, and then in what seems like a week, return to their original svelte selves, all the while claiming that their sole exercise regimen was ‘chasing after their children’ or ‘running around doing errands’. Please, we know you pay your trainer thousands of pounds to look that good, just come clean. Also, metabolism! It’s a thing. Stop bullying those with different body types who OH WAIT just had a baby.
7. Thin bakery owners
A recurring trope in romantic comedies is that the only job women can have is one where all they do is ice cupcakes all day in a slightly messy apron with one piece of beautifully golden hair askew. This is one of the most irritating things about this film genre because not only does it suggest that women can only have one type of career that they are passionate about, but it also fosters this unrealistic feminine ideal – the super thin bakery owner. She eats a lot of cake and yet never exercises or gains weight. This NEEDS to disappear, if only for the sanity of the millions of women like myself who are confused when they gain eight kilos after weekly cupcake binges.
8. Awkward dance shaming
Some ladies can dance like Beyonce, and some cannot. This does mean those without grace and years of training doing jazz/tap should be shamed for wanting to shake what their mothers gave them. At the most recent Grammy awards, Taylor Swift became internet fodder when a gif of her dancing like the awkward, tall, lanky girl she is went viral. I too am awkward and lanky and thus one among many who feels slightly ashamed when dancing in public without some courage (i.e. Tequila). Maybe it’s about time we collectively decide to stop shaming others and ourselves for dancing without rhythm and just enjoy pretending to know how to do the Single Ladies dance.
9. Salmon and almonds as the only OK food to eat
Okay, I know that salmon has loads of omega-3s and almonds are a really ‘good fat’ but there has to be some other options out there. Certain women’s magazines and diet cookbooks seem to suggest that only through consuming salmon and almonds can one have a healthy diet. There has to be other foods out there that are not only healthy but tasty too! Perhaps 2014 can be the year of barramundi and cashews.
10. Waking up with perfect hair and makeup
Last but not least, there is this body trend that I am assuming eludes everyone except maybe Beyonce. When I was younger, I consumed vast amounts of television, which led me to believe that when I was older and would share a bed with someone, I would wake up the next day with shiny, beautiful straight hair and perfectly applied lip gloss. Instead, most mornings I wake up with a tangled mop of hair that takes about a half hour to untangle, raccoon eyes, and dry mouth. At first I questioned my ladylikeness, asking myself what was wrong with me or how did my TV heroines do it? And then I realised that they had makeup artists and that real life is dirtier, less pretty and less glossy than fiction. I would however love it if the TV shows in 2014 would show women looking as they actually do when they wake up because what is currently portrayed creates expectations that women without a budget for makeup cannot realistically fulfill.
Like this article? Sign up to our newsletter to get more articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.