We are a country obsessed with size. The size of our TVs, houses… unmentionables.. and mostly our dress size. This is completely skewing what it means to be strong and healthy. I saw an article on Facebook about a guy who was outraged that his girlfriend’s “XL” top fit him just fine when he normally wore a small or medium sized men’s shirt. He couldn’t believe how women’s clothes are so demeaning and making women feel bad by doing so…
There were lots of people commenting on both sides. One saying that women are made to
feel inferior if they’re not a size 2 and some saying that in actuality sizes now are even bigger than ones of yesteryear, but here’s the thing. He is a guy… yes, that makes a difference. Let’s say this guy was 5’9″ and had an average to small build, which is why he is in a small-medium sized men’s shirt. That would make sense. He is small to medium for a man. Now, let’s say his girlfriend was also 5’9″… still had a medium build, but now let’s throw in a good healthy bust area… guess what? She is large for a women. She just is.
I had this problem in high school and how it was handled completely screwed up my self image for a really long time. I am 5’10”. I also have a DD cup bra…. I am not small. I have not been small since I was a child. At age 11 I was 5’6″ 125 lbs. Yes, totally healthy and normal. I also had a B cup bra at that time. I was the size of a medium sized woman. And I was good and healthy. One of my best friends at the time was like 4’8″ and maybe 80 lbs. Again, completely normal and healthy, but I felt HUGE next to her.
No one bothered to explain that this was ok. That people came in different sizes and that my being “big” wasn’t a bad thing. My aunt told me that “someday I’d grow into my size”. I still don’t have any idea what she could have possibly meant by that. But I started to feel really fat. A couple years later I was up to 5’8″ 145 lbs and a C cup bra. Still, completely healthy. I was now in a Large. I felt like a tub a lub. It was horrible. My aunt decided to make me feel better she would start taking me shopping at the plus sized store “so I would be the smallest one in the store instead of the biggest”… yeah.. that’s encouraging.. it’s like saying… well sure you’re fat, but you’re not as fat as THEM.
My whole life changed after that. I was afraid to exercise in pubic.. even in gym class. I wore really big baggy clothes that just made me look huge and frumpy and I stopped caring about what I ate at all…. why should I? I’m already fat. My whole self worth was thrown in the toilet and I had a carnival mirror image of my body. As time went on I started to grow into the person that I thought that I was and my body got bigger and bigger and pretty soon I wasn’t the smallest person in that plus sized store.
Years later I was blessed with two amazing God daughters. Both of them completely gorgeous and both very tall with decent builds and muscle structures. When they each hit about 12 years old they started comparing their legs and arms to their friends who had smaller frames and were talking about how “fat” they felt. I remembered how I felt at that age and how I had wished some
one had straightened me out then before my habits got out of hand.
I explained that people are different. That height and muscles and bone structure makes a difference and that if they really looked they would see that there was hardly any fat to be found on their bodies. They each did the classic bend till a roll appeared on their belly.. I explained that skin is not fat. The funny thing is when I had this conversation with the younger one the older one was present. She said that she remembered the same conversation about 5 years earlier and that it really helped.
We are so concerned with being the right size that we forget that numbers aren’t the problem. I used to work with a girl who was trying to get into the Army. She was not very tall but she was extremely muscular. She had played sports all through high school and college and had built up quite the physique. The problem was according to the BMI charts she was fat. Well over the average. When she went for her physical she almost failed based on the paperwork, but when they tested her body fat count she was at 6%. Needless to say, she got into the Army and did quite well there, but had someone not bothered to look past the numbers on the paperwork a very strong very healthy young woman could have been turned away under false pretenses.
Now the world is going crazy about this new plus sized model that’s hitting all the covers. People are saying that we shouldn’t glorify obesity… I COULDN’T AGREE MORE! The only thing is, Ashley Graham and girls like her aren’t obese. They are simply large. She has hips. She has boobs. She has muscles. She has healthy body fat. She is one of those girls who, like me, could either be the largest one in the “normal” sized store or the smallest in the plus sized store.
Sizes, weights, BMI.. they are just numbers. They are not an actual representation of health. They are not any representation of beauty. We need to start becoming a society of #healthybodyimage and not #sizematters.