More than a dress size
Sometimes the best of intentions doesn’t turn out quite like we want it to.
I recently learned of a campaign called “Say No To Size Zero”, which describes itself as “a petition to ban all size zero models with an unhealthy BMI (below 18.5).” I understand and applaud the effort to deconstruct the arbitrary ideal that women have to be skinny to be beautiful and valued. However, I think the campaign is addressing the issue in the wrong way. The root problem is not the fact that many models are less than the average weight. It is that society places more emphasis on looks than it does on health and achievements.
Demonizing or undervaluing women who happen to have to lower BMIs (which could in part be due to smaller bone structures or other factors and is not necessarily unhealthy) only serves to ensure that the dialogue concerning the value of women remains focussed on their physical appearance.
Take, for example, the popular Facebook photo which features photos of women from different weight categories and the caption “When did this… become hotter than this?” I like to hope this was well intentioned, but the notion of comparing women based solely on their physical appearance promotes objectification and only serves to further entrench the idea that all that matters about women is how they look.
The conversation needs to shift from what the “right” kind of body looks like to a focus on the necessary components of a healthy lifestyle and a promotion of the fact that women’s value is not directly proportional to their clothing size. We don’t need to send the message that it’s not okay to be small. Some people are size zero and perfectly healthy. We need to send the message that women are valuable for their ideas, their ambitions, and their passions – and that beauty is much more than skin deep.
Photo courtesy of thisisthinprivelege.tumblr.com