27 April 2013

"The Real Woman" and why chocolate should never be "bad"

I’ve never understood people that go on diets. I view diets in the same way I view really strict parents. It’s almost as if by being super restrictive you are tempting a massive rebellion… and I just don’t get it.  When people “fall off the wagon” and admit, rather embarrassed, that they have succumbed to Dominoes and a couple (read: A LOT) of chocolate, I am never surprised.

It’s not normal to only eat vegetables, fruit and the odd bit of protein.  You crave sugar and fatty stuff because god knows nothing tastes better than that first slice of pizza/first bite of a Double Decker when you’re absolutely starving. By making the former “off-limits” and “bad”, you are making it the most tempting, seductive thing in the entire world. Honestly, who actually believes in the phrase “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”?  Being skinny feels quite nice, I guess, but to compare being slim to things like Doritos and full-fat mayo (anything but full-fat mayo is a farce) and further, to imply that to be slim you can’t allow yourself fatty, carby treats, is utterly ridiculous.

And you know what else I really dislike? This whole culture of setting up curvy women as “real women”. In pushing the coveted hour-glass figure, culture is condemning those who are naturally slim or boy-shaped.  When magazines decide to stop labelling celebrities who have put on a couple of pounds as “fat” (which they aren’t), they describe these curves as representative of them being a woman. “Real women have curves”. Okay, great, brilliant, we are embracing curvy women, but what about the other end of the scale?  What about those who don’t have a sexy booty or boobs Kim Kardashian would be proud of, or a tiny waist and prominent hips? Are they not real woman now?  I’m sorry, but I thought we were moving forward here, but it seems as if we’re going too far the other way.  When will culture understand that the key to promoting body confidence isn’t to create an ideal that is often impossible for women to adhere to (without copious amounts of expensive surgery) but to promote the idea every woman is a real woman, regardless of shape?

This does not mean, however, that I’m saying women who are extremely unhealthy or obese should be idolised in the same way, but we’re all people here.  Maybe society should be pushing ways to eat a balanced diet without implicating this ridiculous “perfect body shape” idea and telling us that certain foods are “bad” and count as a splurge, saved for specific days.

I mean, if I’m having a bad week and I’m on a diet and I’m sick of drinking smoothies and boiled veg with some chicken breast, the last thing I need is to be told by my calendar that I can’t order takeaway because it’s not my “off day”. If I want take out, I’ll be damned if I can’t order take out.

Anyway, what am I trying to say? Firstly, that diets are near impossible because they make what is usually acceptable into something “bad” which then makes it super tempting. I’m saying: if you want to order that Dominoes, ORDER THE DOMINOES. Just don’t, y’know order it everyday.  Don’t deprive yourself of tasty things because life is too short. Just do some extra squats at the gym, or something.

Secondly, I’m sick of the ideal body stereotype. A boy-ish shape will never become an hourglass shape, neither will a pear-shape become top-heavy, or whatever. You need to embrace what you’ve got, and culture needs to stop putting certain figures on pedestals. It will only make different groups of people unhappy as they desperately attempt to become something their body cannot make them. Women should be able to take compliments, whether they are described as “slim” (not skinny – “skinny” is such a horrible word) or “curvy” and not question whether their shape is deemed attractive by society or not.

And on that note, I shall tuck in to my left-over Dominoes and yes, it’s going to taste AWESOME.

** After some Facebook comments that have called to attention Weightwatchers, which is a far healthier method of dieting, and the inclusion of "plus size" models in magazines a positive idea in promoting a body image that more women can aspire to, here is my

"I think curvy models are great! I just don't like how magazines are pushing people to *be* curvy when for some people they can't.
I think the Weight Watchers point system is actually really good, but it can lead to people becoming obsessed with numbers and can take the joy out of food, to an extent but it's definitely a lot healthier than some diets out there.

"Maybe I should have made it more clear that eating HEALTHIER is better than "dieting" as such. I think you can still eat chocolate & carbs, just obviously not in excess, and I feel that diets make the mistake of telling people they CAN'T eat them, which makes it harder to stick to.
Often, sometimes people have a natural weight that they can't shift (if they are trying to lose weight) and on the other hand, other people find it difficult to put on weight. Often dieting doesn't work, and people shouldn't feel bad about that and accept their natural size without hating themselves.
Also I wasn't trying to say that inclusion of "plus size" models is leading to slim people disliking their weight. I just mean that a lot of the time they are plastering women like Kelly Brook and Kim Kardashian who are EQUALLY are intimidating as say, Cara Delvingne, and it's just as bad for people's self-image.
I obviously didn't cover the subject extensively enough. And of course that's not to say diets are WRONG, but that they promote an unhealthy sense of restricting and control which is unhealthy and unhelpful

"I wasn't trying to say that slim people are oppressed. I was saying that by promoting "slim" one minute, "curvy" the next, etc etc, that different groups of women are made to feel unhappy with their shape. A lot of skinny, non-curvy woman can be made to feel unwomanly and unattractive when they are told "real women have curves" and it's not their fault, just as much/equally as people that aren't tiny feel insecure when they are told to be smaller. It can work both ways, but obviously there is more stigma if you're "bigger". Both are wrong."

Feel free to comment. This seems to be my most controversial blog post to date!

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