A familiar song in Media Hype Land: women taking shots at each other. This time, blogger Skinny Gurl snipes at va-va-va-voom bikini model Kate Upton. Certainly Ms. Upton does not represent the average female body, nor the average fashion model, but she is far from fat, as the cybersniper calls her (among worse).
What I object to is the larger context: women cutting each other down for our birthday suits, as if we have any choice what our bodies tend toward; women hating on each other in the name of entertainment. Yes, there are ways to stay healthy, and yes, overeating exists, as do intentional starvation, vomiting to stay thin, overexercising, and more obsessions that I care to name. But calling Kate Upton fat and sparking a national media uproar is not only provocative and mean; it is also destructive to women’s attempts to gain equal, diversified power in this corporate-driven, media-frenzied culture.
Skinny Gurl, for all her attempts at slyness and tongue in cheek, spits an anti-feminist diatribe. Thin is the predominant motif in fashion, so Skinny Gurl need not waste her cyberspace defending it. That’s like whining about being white and male in politics. Snarking at women who aren’t rail thin by nature and who choose to focus on other things than forcing their bodies into ridiculous molds is not a healthy pastime for our community. Embracing each diverse body type as lovely is.
I think often of my friend Élan, whose body swaggered from smoking hot to “bountiful is beautiful,” then back through hot again to wither away to the ether. She and I would have had a healthy rant of outrage at a woman firing vitriol at other women (thankfully, Ms. Upton has the grace not to return the shots). Élan and I would have ventured into ridiculous mockery, uproarious giggle fits, and then back to justifiable critique.
I’ve been grappling with losing my friend, a year after her passing, and I like to think of her voice on such issues, to keep her with me in mind as well as spirit. In her healthier days, Élan would have said, with an actor’s flair, “Come on over here, Skinny Bee-atch. Me and my ample hips are gonna take you DOWN!”
I only fight when cornered, so I’ll add my voice of reason: We must stop attacking each other’s bodies; all negative body images are hurtful. Why create them when we could annihilate them and be thankful for our health and happiness?
In my case, the peripheral belly pudge is a remnant from my pregnancy at a mature age when many women struggle to get pregnant. I was blessed with easy conception, but my less elastic skin did not snap back. I accept with grace the physical reminder I carry of my daughter even though I camouflage it. At least I’ve banished eating disorders, still have decent legs, and can enjoy the pleasures of taste and texture as well as wear a short skirt with a long tunic blouse at age 51.
Perfection is overrated, in any case. Love and beauty are better aspirations.