All About Those Beauty Standards

I was out at the bars with my friends this past weekend when this song, “All About That Bass”, caught my attention. I’m usually an Indie/Pop-Punk/Alt Rock type of girl, but when I’m out on the town, my brain switches to “club music mode” so I can enjoy my evening without getting caught up in an oh-my-god-this-music-is-all-terrible mood. This song caught my attention because of it’s bumping groove and the fact that I heard something about not being a barbie doll. Ok! I’m liking the sound of that! Later, I went to look it up in a setting where I’d actually be able to hear the words, I was a little disappointed in what I heard.

The overall message of Meghan Trainor’s song appears to be about loving your body and not caring about what other people think of it “cause every inch of you is perfect, from the bottom to the top.” She also goes on to call out the unrealistic images of women that we see all the time: “I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop. We know that shit ain’t real. Come on now, make it stop.” In general, I’m a pretty big fan! I mean, especially as a heavier-than-ideal woman, whom society rarely tells is beautiful, it’s refreshing to hear another heavier-than-ideal woman come forward and declare that she loves her body, and so should you.

BUT

I have a few bones to pick.

While I am happy that she says to be proud of your body, I’m really not a fan of the WHY you should be proud of your body. The underlying idea sprinkled in the song isn’t that all bodies are equal and deserve equal respect. It seems to be that the reason you should be okay with your body is because men find it attractive.

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

I can shake it, shake it like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase,
And all the right junk in all the right places.

So don’t worry, dear, if people call you fat. You should like that big butt because GUYS like big butts! Isn’t it great? Guys’ interests have switched from the skinny girls to the big girls! We finally have a chance! Nevermind if you like the way you look. That’s irrelevant. We’re just here for the aesthetic pleasure of men!

Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but you can see my point. The whole song screams “love your body because guys love your body!” There is nothing that points out how healthy self love is intrinsic and must start from within. Even the mom, the female role model that most young girls look up to, tells her daughter not to worry because boys like the way she looks. The words may have changed from “alter yourself to please men” to “don’t change! you already please men!”, but the message is still the same.

I also have a problem with the way she criticizes skinny women and women without a lot of “bass”.

You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll.

I’m bringing booty back. Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that.

This seems to be a really big theme within the supposed “Body Positive” movement. They pump up the body types that are typically seen as being not beautiful (good!), but they do it by tearing down the bodies of women who meet the beauty standard (bad!). We see it all the time with those pictures on Tumblr and Facebook praising Marylin Monroe’s curvy body and proclaiming how much sexier she is than very skinny actresses like Keira Knightley and Heidi Montag. And on fitspo blogs that explain how skinny girls are lazy because their bodies come naturally thin.

In the music video, there is a traditionally beautiful woman who has been wrapped in plastic wrap, seemingly to represent the “silicone Barbie doll.” I don’t understand why people think it is acceptable to make fun of women who fit the beauty standard when they have about the same control over how their body looks as anyone does. It’s not a naturally skinny girl’s fault if she is born naturally skinny. And even if she did purposely alter her body to fit the mold (by either diet, exercise, or plastic surgery), what business is it of yours? As long as an adult is making consensual decisions that aren’t causing harm to themselves or others, it is no one’s place to judge them.

I understand that it’s an attempt to infiltrate an environment that has been saturated with a fairly narrow beauty ideal with other options, but putting down those bodies that fit is not the way to do it. I imagine a young girl who is maybe on the heavier side hearing this song and feeling inspired, which is great! But I also imagine a young girl who is on the thin side without much curve hearing this song and feeling inadequate, which is horrible. I’m chubby. I’ve spent my whole life growing up hearing that my body isn’t beautiful, never seeing women who looked like me on tv, being told that I should try to lose weight, not out of concern for my health, but in order to look more attractive. It sucks. It sucks being told that how people look is the most important thing, and what you look like isn’t good enough. The fat girls shouldn’t have to hear that anymore. But that doesn’t mean that the skinny girls should.

We should definitely be giving recognition to body types that break the standard of beauty, but why do we have to flip the script and dismiss or put down body types that fit it? Why does it have to be skinny good, fat bad OR fat good, skinny bad? Why does it always have to be one or the other?

https://i0.wp.com/img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20121009000433/pffanon/images/7/77/Porque_no_los_dos.gif

You said it, Old El Paso girl. Why don’t we have both? How about we stop tearing each other down to try and make us feel better about ourselves? How about we stop trying to live up to whatever standard of beauty society currently tells us is “in”? How about we stop trying to change the beauty standard? How about instead we say fuck beauty standards and embrace ourselves and everyone else just as we are?

Let’s be all about that bass AND that treble. And everything in between.

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Suited Up, Pushed Up, and Fed Up

Ah, summer. The season of cuffed jorts, bonfires, and rollerblading. Honestly, does life get any better than floating in a pool with a margarita?

It’s about this time of year that people go on the hunt for new swimsuits, and this year I’ve started dealing with one of my biggest struggles when it comes to body image: wearing a bikini. Growing up a chubby girl, I’ve been wearing tankinis since I was 12, and while people wear tankinis for many different reasons, I knew that I wore mine because I was embarrassed about my stomach. Finally, last month, I decided to no longer waste any more of my precious fucks on peoples’ opinions of me and my body, and I set out to Target to buy my first bikini in 10 years.

Now, seeing as how I’m super picky when it comes to my clothing (and that the variety of cute tankinis in stores is always very limited), I typically just avoid the swimwear section, and I’d been wearing the same suit for at least 3 summers. Safe to say, I’ve been out of the bathing suit buying game for a while. But I was happy to find that while the horribly unsupportive triangle bikinis are still living it up, bra-like tops with underwire have come back into fashion.

Hallelujah! Busty girls of the world rejoice! Our savior has come to tame our wild ta-tas!

Except…it hasn’t.

Imagine my surprise when I grabbed the powder blue top I’d been eyeing only to find 2 inches of thick padding on the inside. It was more of a throw pillow than swimsuit. “Well that’s an awful lot of padding,” I thought to myself. “I guess some girls just want a little bit of lift.” Imagine my bigger surprise when I slowly realized that every single underwire bikini had this padding. Every. Single. One.

Facing the looming threat of being stuck with my old suit for yet another summer, I took a couple of the bikinis with the least amount of padding I could find and headed to the fitting room. I mean, really. How bad could it be? It was laughable. Like, I actually laughed (and snorted) out loud. My chest sat about three inches higher than it normally did and my cleavage almost reached my collar bone, creating a smushed crevice that would give a claustrophobe chills. I leaned forward to test the containment capabilities, and, as I suspected, the reflection I saw would have made Janet Jackson blush. I tried one more of the four remaining tops I had chosen before concluding that there was no way any of these options would give me ample coverage while trying to sunbath, let alone doing a cannonball. I changed, snorted again, and left good ole Tarjay.

After spending another hour at the mall, searching high and low from Forever 21 to Victoria Secret and finding nothing but stuffing, I headed home, boobs below my chin, empty handed.

I don’t understand this. I have a large chest. I need support for that chest. Therefore I need underwire. I have a large chest. I don’t need any help making that chest look large. Therefore I don’t need extra padding. Why, then, are the only options that have the support I need stuffed to the brim with padding that pushes my boobs up to my eyeballs?

Maybe my problem is that these suits are marketed towards pre-teen and teenaged girls, and I, as a fully developed 22-year old spinster, don’t fit that demographic. But even if that were true, that begs the question: why are these stores selling bathing suits designed to increase your bust size by two cups to teenaged and pre-teen girls?

Ugggghhhhh.

Gotta love watching the old “being beautiful means having big boobs” ideology being forced down the throat of the next generation of girls.

Ok. Here’s the deal: If a woman wants to wear five layers of padding in her suit to make her boobs look bigger, she should go for it. If a woman wants to completely cover up with a t-shirt, she should go for it. A woman can wear whatever it is that she wants to wear.

However, when the only options out there are the ones to make a woman look “sexy”, it starts becoming less of a choice and more of a default.

I don’t personally go for the sexy look, at least when it comes to bathing suits. I already have a decent sized chest so whenever I wear any suit that tries to “enhance” cup size, I feel overly exposed, like I’m on display. It’s just not something that I’m comfortable with in a beach/pool environment. I also don’t find it conducive for swimming, which is, I do recall, one of the main purposes of a bathing suit. (Wait, women actually like to go swimming instead of just sunbathing???) So when I can’t find a swimsuit that doesn’t squish my boobs together, I either have to settle for a suit that I don’t particularly like, or I don’t get one at all. It’s very frustrating. And that’s just the busty girls’ problems. If I had a “small” chest, I think I’d been even more pissed. Most of the smalls have so much padding that there isn’t even a pocket for your boobs to go!

This is bullshit.

I’m so sick of being smacked in the face with society’s standard of beauty. We get it: “Women should be attractive. Boobs = attractive. Don’t have boobs? Fix it! Already have boobs? Make them even bigger!” It’s objectifying and dehumanizing, and I could spend a good hour chatting about how harmful these messages are to adolescent girls and women in general. But right now, I’m just gonna be selfish and focus on my shopping problems.

After years of seeing this standard plastered on every billboard, magazine, television channel, and feature film, I’ve pretty much got my exasperated sigh and eye-roll combo down pat. While I would be lying if I said that I am unaffected by these messages, I can identify them and make a conscious effort to, once again, save my fucks and throw up a finger. But when the only bathing suits in stores are designed to alter my chest, when modest versions are not nearly as readily accessible, when the way I want to dress my body isn’t even a tangible possibility, that’s when my fucks start flying.

Note to American retail stores catering to 14-26 year olds: Not every woman wants to look like she has big boobs. Not every woman wants to put her boobs on display. Not every woman prioritizes sexiness in a suit.

Sell those double-stuffed bathing suits. Give me, and other women, the option to flaunt our amazing sexuality. Just give us the option not to, as well. It won’t hurt, I promise. In fact, it’ll probably be easier, given that you can skip the extra materials and the time it takes to add them.

Think about it and get back to me.