Whilst on a recent shopping spree, spending my loan on things that I surely didn’t need (but had to have), that I came across a shocking sight. New Look, high street mecca for budget savvy women of all ages, was showing this average woman a delectable sample of lingerie… On a mannequin with a funnel-stick waist, tantamount to the size of a golf ball. Now this may be a slight exaggeration, but the angle of this waist was so severe I wondered whether this brand was actually trying to sell clothes or advertise a new sci-fi alien adventure flick. Why did they feel the need to promote their clothing on such a freak exaggeration of the female form? And with a customer following ranging from schoolgirls to 30-somethings, where did their obligation to show a healthy body image go?
This got me thinking. So many pages of our favourite magazines are devoted to fad diets; cutting out wheat, cutting out carbs, pretty much cutting out food altogether. Yet does all this abstinence and guilt really equate to a healthy perception of ourselves? Those who watch Tuesday night’s television are certainly convinced otherwise. Gok Wan, the guru of style and body worship, the man who taught us to ‘look good naked’, challenges and inspires the nation to go back to nature, and celebrate the female form in all its glory, all shapes and sizes. His mantra is to take confidence and pride in our appearance, and be positive in the way we live our everyday lives. Having that extra pound or two means nothing if the happiness we portray is more than skin-deep.
A viewpoint from another species emphasises this truth. In a survey by Cosmopolitan magazine, over 80% of men said they preferred a ‘curvy’ or ‘svelte’ woman to that of a model stick-thin type. Many other forums back up this point, with curvaceous celebrities such as Kelly Brook continually voted as having the ‘best body’ over much thinner women including Kate Moss. On a more relatable level, guy friends from Uni said they would much prefer a woman who was happy with herself and her appearance, a ‘real’ woman who has fun and isn’t constantly badgered by guilt about her body. And let’s face it, everyone is their own worst critic. If others are celebrating and accepting of us, then why can’t we be so accepting of ourselves?
Christmas is just around the corner, a time when body image becomes a futile tension – binge now, diet later. But instead of playing this ridiculous game of snakes and ladders, why not enjoy all the festivities and frolicking of the season, and really get into the Christmas spirit. This is the time to enjoy the comforts of home-cooked meals and mince-pie tea-breaks. All too soon will be the time for other stress – with January exams right around the corner! So kick back this season, and remember that loving yourself and loving all that you eat, drink and do makes you a real, sexy woman. Now, I do fancy the sound of that mince pie…