Recently, Daisy Ridley, the actress who played “Rey” on Episode Seven of Star Wars, responded to hate online concerning her weight. Ridley is, according to some individuals, too skinny to be a role model for girls. Right after the movie release, Carrie Fisher (do I even need to mention who she plays? Leia!) responded to comments that she “hadn’t aged well.”
These instances sparked something that has been bothering me for awhile. Why are we so hung up on appearances? What does weight or appearance have to do with someone having good character or being an appropriate role model?
Lately, there’s been a movement that encourages–specifically ladies–to appreciate their body, no matter what it looks like. However, while promoting plus-sized models and women who aren’t afraid to step on a weight scale is great, a certain malice has developed concerning average or petite women.
Like most movements, it focuses largely on only one type of many, instead of seeing the broad spectrum. In turn, healthy women (by “healthy” I simply mean they don’t suffer from eating disorders) get bashed for being a little smaller in weight than others.
We’ve swung from one complete extreme -women have to be skinny, models develop eating disorders, actresses can’t be anything but stick-thin- to another extreme: “Go eat a burger.” People are tending to focus more on the waist circumference or beauty of role models than they do their personality or values. A very materialistic society, indeed–to the point that we only focus on the outer appearance, not the inner qualities, of a human being.
Being one specific body type or weight does not fix anything in this universe, honestly, unless you’re seriously unhealthy and attempting to improve either way–by gaining or losing weight. Since when did body weight dictate someone’s abilities to be a good role model for girls?
I understand that a lot of girls can look at an actress and think “I won’t be pretty unless I look like her,” but that’s more of a psychological state that should be addressed psychologically in schools, not with promotion of specific body shapes that only inflate the issue.
Chubbier girls aren’t the only ones who get harassed for body size- they get harassed about being thicker, and thinner girls get harassed about not being thicker. No wonder our society’s girls are so anxious about their body size; no matter what they do, some trend is going to tell them whatever they look like is disgraceful.
Considering the slant toward one body type against another, there are a lot of things that tie into body shape and size -build, genetic and biochemical makeup, health conditions like hypothyroidism or if you’re on certain medications.
This doesn’t even include other causes of weight fluctuations – such as diet, smoking, eating disorders or activeness –and we’re not going to focus on those, either, because they can be changed.
You’re stuck with genetics, and health conditions cannot necessarily be wiped away without impact. Certain medications for health conditions can cause weight fluctuations. Of course, if your family members typically have a stocky or a thin build, you’re likely to inherit that.
Why try to force someone to fit into a specific body (and tear them down if they don’t) if they physically cannot? Why on earth is it acceptable to degrade someone if they don’t fit that “ideal” body?
Therefore, perhaps we should take biological points into consideration before we immediately judge someone for something they might not be able to change. Furthermore, if we’re promoting acceptance of body image, we should at least attempt to cover all bases instead of just a specific type. Instead, why don’t we promote healthiness, both physically and mentally?
Rule of thumb: if your weight matches your BMI (body mass index number), you’re at an acceptable weight, end of story, and don’t listen to the people who say it isn’t. Mental wellbeing in itself would likely reduce a lot of problems such as attention-seeking, self-consciousness, eating disorders, etc.
If someone feels healthy and thinks well about themselves, they’ll probably be less likely to drag someone else down due to physical factors. To circle back to Carrie Fisher, if you say someone didn’t “age well” or negatively comment on someone’s appearance based on their age, consider that weight gain is normal with hormonal changes as the body ages, both in men and women, wrinkles are life experiences, and gray hair is to be worn as a crown of honor; some people unfortunately never reach that stage of life.
In short: if we’re going to promote body acceptance, we should be doing it differently. Promote healthiness regarding one’s medical and genetic selves, not body types. Promote mental wellbeing too, and uncontrollable eating disorders and esteem issues might decrease.
The human race consists of individuals, not a collective- absolute similarities are hard to group, and this is obviously the same with body image. Perhaps we should advertise overall health, happiness, and above all-kindness, instead of just embracing being thick or thin.