Why are we so caught up on beauty, or skinny vs. fat

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So the above image has been making its way around Facebook. A lot of people posting, of course, think it is a great message , showing women it doesn’t matter what they look like, they can still be beautiful. However, there are a few problems with the juxtaposition of these two ads.

First, notice the campaign titles: Love My Body and Real Beauty. What messages do they send to the reader? Is the top photo telling readers that if your body type more closely resembles the bottom one that you don’t love your body? Is the bottom photo telling readers that if your body more closely resembles the top one that you’re not really beautiful?

Whether you love your body should have nothing to do with how you compare to other women, which brings me to by second point.

What these ads do when a woman sees them is forces her to compare herself to the models in the ads, particularly when they are side by side. She automatically tries to decide where she fits in, or if she fits in at all. After all, where does someone who has grey hair and wrinkles and is over 40 and a size 20 fit? Nowhere according to these ads.

Third, while the creator of the image may have intended to assure women that being larger than supermodels is just fine and the real definition of beauty, what (s)he has really done is perpetuate the dichotomy between skinny and fat. Women should be happy with their body type, they should be judging whether they are too fat or not skinny enough. There is far too much emphasis in our society on body shape and not enough on actual health.

Fourth, why does it even matter at all whether women are beautiful? Why do we see no Real Beauty ads for men? Why should female self esteem be tied to beauty?

Fifth, why does Victoria Secret or Dove get to decide what is beautiful? Why can’t we all decide what is beautiful for ourselves.

Finally, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Unilever, the company that owns Dove, also owns Axe.

6 thoughts on “Why are we so caught up on beauty, or skinny vs. fat

  1. As a male it is very difficult to comment as a male. As a male my own personal beauty is seldom a cause for contemplation. If pushed I would have to admit that I am on the low scale of attractiveness.

    A few thoughts. Is it modest to pose in your underwear? So are all these women comprimising modesty and therefore spiritually unattractive?

    The Lord looks on the heart. That is were we should look for value and beauty.

    However one of the paradoxes of scripture is that while virtue, modesty and the heart are to be valued there are several instances in the scriptures where beauty is equated with goodness.

    Esther was beautiful. Abraham’s Sarah was so beautiful he had to “lie” about her being his sister. Rebekah of the Old Testament was fair to look upon. The New Testament seems to be less explicit about beauty or lack thereof except the Book of Mormon says Mary was most beautiful and fair.

    There is something very aluring about beauty that makes it almost synonomous with goodness.

    Have you ever noticed you don’t see ugly people in the temple. Maybe if you put all the ladies above in a nice modest temple dress they would all be equally beautiful.

    While beauty is aluring it alone is seldom enough to hold men’s admiration. We all know the rock lyrics “she ain’t pretty she just looks that way”. But the opposite is true as well… if women let themselves go and claim they are beautiful just as they are there is something hollow in that as well. In the long haul of a marriage personality tops looks 9 times out of 10. A grumpy babe is no match for a pleasant and cheery average.

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My challenge is to be the kind of beholder that sees beauty were it exists and notice where it is absent.

    What is wrong with comparing ourselves skinny or fat? Pride is essentially competitive in nature.

  2. Men don’t seem to care how they look; women, much more so. And that’s an understatement. I’m 60. You’d think I’d be all mature about it, but heck, I dye my eyebrows! I Nair my mustache, get my hair professionally done so nobody knows I’m actually a white-haired little old woman and I sweat my figure which went downhill dramatically after working at a sitting-down job for three years. My neighbor and I get kind of whiny when we consider our fat and wrinkly parts. (I’m convinced she’s had plastic surgery and I would in a New York minute if I could afford it). My husband is almost bald, skinny and wrinkly and paunchy and he still thinks he’s the cat’s meow.

    We had a yard sale a couple of weeks ago and I found some clothes I’d worn when dating Bill and to the temple the day we got married. I was so skinny! But—I thought I was fat. That’s crazy. Those girls up top—they’re thinking they need to lose some weight somewhere. The girls in the middle, them, too. I don’t have any answers on how to change that attitude, but I sure wish I did.

    As far as immodesty, good on you, Kim, for highlighting this issue. I predict it’s going to get worse as us baby boomers get old.

    1. Thanks, Anne. I think you are probably right: it will probably get worse. I don’t know how to change the attitude either. The majority of men and women are still hung up on superficial beauty. I can only assume if change will ever come about, it will only be after a very long, arduous battle.

  3. I really enjoyed what you wrote. I’ve been searching the net for some good writing on the superficial values around beauty and women. This is the best so far. Do you know any good articles in this vain? I’d really like to read more that explains why people are this way and how to equip ourselves (my daughter and my wife) better against it.

    No-one seems to see it. It’s quite a desperate situation for children that have families that don’t see it and get bullied at school for their weight too.

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