Portfolio of Hope

The majority of companies selling things to women to make them feel like they’re ‘not good enough’, are men- men like Philip Green, (ex) chairman of the Arcadia Group, for example. It is men such as Green who are responsible for constructing the ‘ideal’ body type, that being one promoting thinness as the ‘superiority’ over all other body types. The reason? Because it’s profitable for them. By telling us that we have a problem and claiming that they can ‘fix’ our problem, they know that, in our desperate pursuit to be ‘perfect’, (even though perfection itself is a societal construct), we will throw all our hard-earned money at their ‘solutions.’ The reality, though, is that our ‘problems’ that supposedly need solving never actually existed in the first place. The only, genuine, problem we have is that we let powerful men, men who, by the way, don’t buy into their own ideas, worm their way into our heads and influence, not only how we feel about ourselves, but also how we spend our money, too)…

Despite my explanation of how the ‘ideal’ body type is merely a societal construct, as detailed above, people will still argue that there is an ideal body type, and that, that ‘ideal’ is thinness. Such people making this argument will likely insist that thinness is the ideal because to be thin means to be healthy, but, I’m here to tell you that this just isn’t the case. What do I mean by this? Well, the idea that thinness=healthiness is a myth, for health is about so much more than what you weigh (i.e., Just because you’re slim, it doesn’t mean that you’re healthy). You could be really slim but do absolutely no exercise and struggle to walk even a mile. This isn’t healthy. And, likewise, you could be a bigger size and be really fit which is healthy. And so, the idea that someone’s health and fitness can be determined by their size is just ludicrous.

It’s also important to note that people, if they eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, will find that they maintain a weight that is natural and healthy for them anyway. No one needs to hyper focus on their weight and body shape, forcing it to be something that it’s not through restrictive diets and excessive exercise. Doing this would most likely result in them having very low energy levels and, if taken to the extreme, could lead to lots of health complications arising along the way. This, of course, is not healthy. In fact, no attempt to manipulate one’s weight is healthy for, the weight that’s right for you should come effortlessly, when you are eating well and exercising- not forcing yourself to meet the completely made up construct of the ideal thin body type (note the word ‘you’ here). Your ‘right’ weight is not universal. Just like you have a natural hair colour and eye colour that is not the same as every other person, so too do you have a natural weight that will also differentiate from person to person. You wouldn’t say that someone with brown hair needs to change the way they look because blonde hair is the ‘right’, ‘ideal’ hair colour and, if you did say this, you would be told, in no uncertain terms, I am sure, to stop being so ridiculous. Why then, is this not the same with weight? Just because one person is a size 8, doesn’t mean that everyone has to be. Unfortunately though, there seems to be some discrepancy where weight is concerned, a result of us being told for decades, largely by the fashion industry, that there is a ‘right’ and a ‘wrong’ weight (disclaimer: there isn’t).

The people who have, quite literally, made it their ‘life’s work’ to point out our downfalls, people like Philip Green, are not only selling products that perpetuate the shared female narrative of ‘we’re not good enough as we are’, but they are also marketing them in such a way, too. Just look at mannequins in clothing shops as an example to see what I mean by this. The majority of mannequins are slim, suggesting that women can only look good in the products being marketed if they too are thin. Similarly, look at models who, 9 times out of 10, are also really slim.

Now, it can be, and has been argued, that the way in which clothes are sold is becoming more diverse in recent times, what with the number of companies using plus size models/mannequins being on the rise, but, a fact that we can’t argue with, is this: We’re still buying in to the supposed ‘ideal’ body type. How so? By referring to anything other than that socially constructed ‘ideal’ of thinness as ‘plus size.’ To be truly inclusive and embracing of diversity, the fashion industry ought to be ditching the, potentially harmful terminology surrounding size, and just be selling clothes for people– not clothes for thin people, not clothes for ‘plus size’ people, just clothes for people– full stop. Why do we need to put a label on everything/everyone all the time?! Why can’t we just be happy to be here, existing, in the first place? After all, that alone, in and of itself, is a miracle, and has nothing at all to do with our weight.

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