SmartAssy

What about the Size 6s? or Why I Love Jennifer Lawrence

In Encouraging Thoughts on May 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm

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I don’t usually pay much attention to news concerning weight and body image. “Body acceptance” was a big issue for me as a teen, but I’ve been in a really good place for a while now. Hence, I’m not interested in the media’s lbs-obsession that swings between “every size is beautiful” and “obesity is a grotesque epidemic.” I’m a size 4 or 6, depending on the store, and I try to exercise and eat healthy.

However, the recent uproar over the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO’s diatribe against “fat people” has bombarded me at every corner of the Internet. I bring it up because the story and subsequent backlash have gotten me thinking about body image. Specifically, it made me remember the insecurities I had in high school. At 5’ 6”, I fluctuated between 135-145 lbs. and wore a snug size 6. I felt like a beached whale.

There was this series of artsy Chloé ads that I ripped out of Vogue and used as a border around my Georgia O’Keefe poster. Some of them were only pictures of handbags, but one of them featured a super slim, glamorous-looking model, and I remember thinking “I wish I had the willpower to have those thighs.” I didn’t work out enough in my teens or eat that well, but I don’t think any amount of behavior modification could have cut and pasted those legs onto my frame. At its fittest, the figure I have just isn’t made to look like that.

Sadly, I know that these kinds of worries are not uncommon for girls that age. I fell into what I saw as an in-between category: my shape didn’t correspond to conventional-model skinny, nor to plus-size model voluptuous. There weren’t a lot of girls who looked like me in magazines, on the runaway, or gracing the red carpet. From ads to movies to TV, it seemed like there was the society-approved slender set with a full-figured woman here or there, applauded for challenging what is sexy. I wasn’t that full-figured woman; I couldn’t take pride in having a similar shape. To a self-conscious 16-year-old, this meant that if you weren’t naturally plus-sized, you had no excuse for not looking like Kate Moss & Co.

Flash forward seven years, subtract the insecurities along with about 10 lbs. due to a better body image and lifestyle, and you have the present-day me. I’ve gotten over the fact that my physique, a natural weight around 130 at 5’ 6’’, is just not very present among the ultrathin of Hollywood or the bigger women who have defied the norm. I’m not Rooney Mara or Adele (though I find both striking).

And that brings me to Jennifer Lawrence, someone who looks like me in terms of build. I won’t pretend that she’s the first female of her size to become famous, but her catapult to fame has allowed many girls to look at her and say “Hey! She’s like me!” J.Law may be smaller than a size 6, but she’s not your typical Hollywood-svelte. She appears fit and happy to be herself, which is extremely refreshing to me. I hope teen girls around my size see her and remember that it is fine to be your natural weight, that just because you’re not plus-sized doesn’t mean you need to be curve-less.

For the record, I recognize that it can be hard growing up at any size. From thin to full-figured, women (and men) have to weather abuse for the build that they were born with, and the media doesn’t seem to care whether we eat well and exercise. Their aim is often to blindly criticize.

In my experience, it is 100 times easier to maintain a balanced lifestyle if you stop hating yourself and don’t attempt to live up to the unrealistic expectations of anonymous Internet critics or the unforgiving media. Listen to your doctor, and listen to your body.

Bottom line: no matter how big or small we are, we can’t win with everyone. We might as well stop playing the game and love ourselves for who we are meant to be.

To our health,

LM

 

[Image Source: jennifer-lawrence-jan-28.jpg]

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  1. Very nicely put. I have thought often about how much obesity is more and more being treated like leprocy as of late, and I have thought about how much the A&F CEO and his comments been raged against as of late, but had not thought until now about how contradictory those things are. Certainly there are some of the same people asserting both of those viewpoints, which is somewhat baffling.

  2. Thank you!

    It really is strange that there are people who try to play on both sides of the weight/obesity issue. The whole topic is complicated enough without people being outraged for the sake of being outraged.

  3. I have to tell you, I enjoyed this post. It made me remember how I was in high school. I was extremely self-conscious about my looks. I needed to have an 8 pack and an absolutely built body to be happy. Well, as I exercised more and ate less, i learned that my body’s musculature is not built to have an 8 pack. I have a 7 pack. It was at the moment where I realized that it would be impossible to live up the ideals set around me that I was set free. I started eating the way my body needed me to and my performance as an elite athlete shot through the roof. The lesson here (and from your post) are clear: Be you, as healthy and fit as “you” can really be.

    • Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed it. And yes, that’s exactly the lesson. Once I stopped wishing I could look a certain way, I realized that I actually enjoy working out just for the way it feels and because I know it makes me healthy. Once you stop being so self-conscious and obsessing over your looks, you really are set free – that was a great way to put it. I think the only way to be healthy and fit is if you first have that mindset, not such a body-critical one.

  4. I think this has a great message. Its not about people who are large or people who are small, or even people whom society deems to be the right size. Everyone struggles with their body image, and we must all remember to be healthy and do what is right for our bodies above all else. Weight has become such a taboo topic recently, I think its important for us to learn to talk about it.

    • Thanks a lot! I’m so glad you appreciated the message. It’s a simple one, but it took me a long time to understand, and I really do think it applies universally. And I agree; weight has become something that’s hard to talk about, but it’s beneficial (especially for people really struggling with body image issues) to have open, constructive conversations on the topic.

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