Overweight women are stereotyped into many roles — the end of a punchline, the victim of verbal harassment and the unattractive one in a group of friends. This country’s own president-elect has blatantly expressed his opinions on women’s appearances, including fat-shaming Miss Universe Alicia Machado on camera. Now more than ever, the media and the fashion industry as a whole must begin to take responsibility over the cruel rhetoric of fat-shaming and shine a light over one of the most underrepresented groups in media — fat women.
The ignorance surrounding shaming curvy women can be seen everywhere we look. Advertisements constantly display thin women as the ideal standard and fat women as the unappealing alternative. Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones struggled to find someone to design her dress for the premiere of her movie — in part because of her size. Time and time again these subliminal messages attempt to tell people that because being fat is different, it should not be accepted. Not only do these negative ideas spread an offensive stigma, but they also affect women mentally. Academic studies have shown that women tend to overeat as a result of stressing about their weight.
The average size of American women has grown to size 16 in the past few years. While some may argue that embracing this size could result in normalizing overweight bodies, the fact of the matter is that ignoring these women means ignoring major problems within the fashion industry. Women’s sizing in general is a fairly controversial topic, as over the years size has been shown to differ too much to claim that any one number can describe the hundreds of body types that attempt to squeeze into the same pair of inaccurately marked jeans. When a size 8 measurement could vary up to five inches between designers, the allegation that showing larger sizes encourages obesity is a ridiculous notion in itself. Why should curvy girls be seen as an inconvenience when the entire sizing system is currently built against them, obsessing morbidly on sizes well below an already unhealthy size 0?
In a society that has for too long obsessed over trying to reach the perfect beach body, a change in perspective is much needed. Unrealistic beauty standards forced by mass media shuts out the thousands of women living in this country who should not by any means feel pressured to change their appearances in order to feel attractive. If the media is meant to reflect the people of our society, and every body type is different, then each one must be represented in a way that does not demand any more or less of women than who they are.
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Email Melanie Pineda at [email protected]