This topic is everywhere at the minute and we are seeing an increasing number of both men and women with body image issues, otherwise known as body dysmorphia. In men the issue tends to be wanting to be bigger, newly dubbed as “bigorexia” while in women it’s the same old problem, with a staggering percentage of women thinking they are overweight and therefore resorting to faddy diets or in some cases worse. A large proportion of men are now resorting to steroids to achieve an increase in body mass, which obviously has massive adverse health effects, or thinking that by spending hours in the gym they will achieve the body of their dreams.
Society has stood up and ‘Super models’ are being snubbed for a more curvy ‘Plus sized model’ with companies coming under increasing pressure to avoid the often malnourished Size Zero look. Public opinion is that ‘Plus sized’ models are more attractive, look healthier and have more sex appeal than their skinny counterparts. This article aims to focus upon body image, especially in women and whether a size zero or a plus sized model looks is what we should be promoting.
Now I appreciate this can be a touchy subject and that we are trying to avoid putting too much pressure on people to conform as to what society has deemed acceptable, so in the interests of being diplomatic and politically correct, if you are hugely under or overweight, happy with yourself (genuinely) and have no interest in exploring a healthy lifestyle, then you can stop reading now.
For everyone else….let’s get personal!
As I look at the above examples of a size zero and a plus sized model, one question immediately jumps to mind…..WTF???
It’s great that we as a society are saying that it’s not acceptable to promote the body image of a size zero model to the millions impressionable young women around the world, big tick in the box society, well done you…….BUT, are we now saying that it is acceptable to be fat? Why must everything be in extreme? We have gone from a size zero, therefore anything in the positive numbers is plus sized in comparison. Let’s pick a healthy size range that avoids excess in either direction and set a positive message ,that, yes, people come in different sizes and shapes, but there are healthy boundaries and pushing in one direction or the other is not the answer.
Neither size zero nor plus sized models are healthy, fit or sexy, (I am of course generalising, and of course many people are attracted to the fat and skinny women, but on the whole I think this true of most men). A wise man once said to me that “A six pack on a skinny guy is like big boobs on a fat girl…..It doesn’t count!!” and in some respects it’s true, are curves created by large fat deposits the key to a sexy curvaceous body??? Not in a million years.
Performance Vs Appearance
The performance vs appearance battle is evident in every gym in the world, with a large portion of the members using mirrors and scales to judge their success, whilst a smaller proportion use personal bests, either, weight increases on certain lifts, distance covered in a certain time or repetitions completed. In my experience the latter category see better results, both in performance and appearance. I can guarantee you that if your strength, power and endurance are improving, along with eating a balanced diet, so will your appearance.
Case in point, CrossFit champion Rich Froning and Olympic Heptathlon gold medalist Jessica Ennis:
Do their lives revolve around their appearance or their performance? They are arguably two of the best athletes on the planet, so it’s purely performance……Do they look good? Judge for yourself.
So we have tried size zero, it didn’t work, we have tried plus sized, it didn’t work, so surely there must be somewhere else we can go, another group of people that can look good in clothes and promote the message of health and well-being to impressionable women…….Anyone???
Women at gyms around the world have all the attributes any model needs, they have the curves, they are athletically slim, not skinny, and they are fit healthy people. Surely this is the message we want to be promoting….
If you are naturally slimmer or larger than the average person and you eat a balanced diet, take regular exercise and generally look after yourself then great, everyone’s genetic makeup is different and I’m not trying to single out everyone who is slightly off the ‘ideal’ either way. The point is, like everything in life, it’s about balance, extremes are rarely good and averages are key to success.
Girls, here is the hard truth, it is not acceptable to be super skinny, it is not acceptable to be fat, you don’t need to be the fittest female on the planet or have a six pack, but stay active, maintain a reasonable weight and eat healthy most of the time. If this is too much pressure to be putting on our kids then we have already failed them.