Fat ChanceTuesday, March 06, 2012 By Camille Wolsky
Immediately, when one first envisions Adele Adkins, the gorgeous soul vocalist, do they imagine her shimmering wit, her enticing British accent, or her chart-topping voice that has inspired songwriters and moved entire stadiums to tears? Unfortunately, neither of these situations are accurate in the modern day. After being the only woman besides Beyonce to garner six Grammys in one awards ceremony, critics of her singing voice attacked her through all mechanisms of media, writing nasty articles insulting her weight, which obviously has nothing to do with her talent. Why, as a society, do we learn to mentally connect talent, intellect, and beauty with one’s physicality? Shaming other women’s abilities or criticizing their talent will not trim ten pounds from our waistline or eliminate our own love handles, so why are we attempting to impede the progress of women who are actually confident in their bodies? By arguing that another talented woman, such as Adele, is “fat and didn’t deserve the award because Rihanna was better”, as an unintelligent and judgmental freshman boy on my bus blurted out with any semblance of rational thought, he is struggling to raise his own self-esteem. Perhaps he was simply jealous of the confidence that many curvy, skinny, and everything in-between girls possess and thought to strike back like a petulant child by undermining their fiercest attributes. Honestly, this trend of body image criticism stems from a supposedly “concerned” vantage point. “You looked like you’ve gained a couple pounds, dear. Would you care to accompany me on Sunday for a yoga session?” asked a worried aunt. “That’s your third cookie today, wouldn’t you much rather have an apple?” asked a hovering mother, in an intonation that suggests that you better eat an apple if you want to be included in her last will and testament. Outside the family, the body image judgment proliferates, especially in high school, where unjustified and negative commentary on others is commonplace and even encouraged. Troublingly, you never hear teenage guys whistle, “Whoa! Look at the brains on that girl!” Meanwhile, size zero ladies with lipstick smiles and curvier girls stare each other down across the lunch room, waiting for each other to stand up so the next wave of body image criticizing can begin before the dismissal bell clangs. Everyday, comments are traded between both strangers and best friends, but one views a decline in compliments on intellect and self-worth as body-related sentiments skyrocket. Instead of focusing on the functions, people hone in on the aesthetic beauty on the outside, rather than the glowing personality and fortified ideas that emanate from the inside. This increase in body-based compliments has caused females who are not the spitting image of Victoria’s Secret angels and guys who do not resemble Ryan Reynolds to feel inferior, spurring many more serious problems such as eating disorders. Perfection is not generated by makeup or physical attractiveness: it comes directly from one’s shining personality and loving heart. By emphasizing the idea that the “curvy yet skinny” body image is the only way to be perfect, we are instructing future generations to alter their natural state in order to impress society’s ideals, which are completely unrealistic. It has been made abundantly clear that we are required to cease the body shaming and love ourselves with reckless abandon. As a generation with enough power and knowledge that words can leave scars forever, we must act upon the imperative to eliminate stereotypical beauty and embrace the characteristics that make us unique. Without learning to love ourselves, it is impossible to experience the world firsthand, so I dare you to tell someone, even if that person is yourself, that they are beautiful. You will never realize that you might have just helped rescue someone struggling against the current of body image dissatisfaction and started a chain reaction of positive self-esteem.