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Women the world over have been embracing bodily imperfections as many no longer care about fitting in, and prefer to celebrate their unique selves.
Though it is a norm for women having skinny figures to be considered the ideal body type in most parts of the world, the dissatisfaction in women about their weight and body shapes has reduced, according to the American Psychological Association.
“It is a requirement for women to remain unhealthily thin. They starve themselves and go on crazy diets which ultimately affects their health,” states Summer Lecher, an 18 year old Youtuber from California, who is known by her pseudonym Sumi Appleberry. She is one of the very few plus size musicians who wishes to debut in the music industry.
The American music industry is known for imposing guidelines on physical guidelines on female musicians, and does not allow them to deviate from these guidelines. But in the recent years, many female artists like Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and Mariah Carey have broken this norm. Lecher, who is half-Korean, wishes to try debuting in Korea, as a K-pop star. The K-pop industry is known for objectifying women, and advocates plastic surgery, as it aims to provide unblemished beauty to its audience.
Korea is also said to be the beauty capital of the world, with innumerable plastic surgeons’ offices there. But Lecher refuses to undergo plastic surgery, or follow an unhealthy diet. In Korea, the prescribed body standards for women are: apple shaped hips, a V shaped jaw line, with perfect skin – which other women try to imitate. Lecher avers, “The society’s approval is not necessary. I’m not unhappy with my body. I like myself the way I am. Blemishes are a part of who I am, and I don’t bash myself about it, and neither should other girls.”
American women have now begun to accept their different body types as ‘normal’ according to the recent study mentioned above, presented on 5th August, 2016 at the 124th American Psychological Association Convention. As per the data gathered from more than 100,000 men and women, they found that from 1981 to 2011, on average women’s dissatisfaction with their muscular build plummeted by 3.3 points. Though the number is not highly significant, the results showed that men reported feeling more dissatisfied with their muscles in comparison to women and that trend remained stable over time.
So, what might be the reasons for this welcome change in the trend?
One of the many reasons for women’s plummeting dissatisfaction with their body, is the change in perception of external beauty. “Women have begun to realise that perfection doesn’t exist in reality, and that blemishes are just airbrushed on the silver screen,” informs Lecher.
Despite the advent of social media, women are not editing their body size or flawed physical attributes to appear flawless. American female celebrities like Demi Lavato, Gigi Hadid and Kim Kardashian have begun posting images of themselves without make-up, exposing their various bodily flaws, in an attempt to encourage women to follow their suit. So, it is no longer uncommon to find women of all shapes and sizes posing confidently in their selfies.
The second reason for this drop in dissatisfaction, is the exposure of diverse body types by the media. American TV shows like the Mindy Project, Girls and Inside Amy Schumer have women of plus size body types cast in lead roles, making them courageous trailblazers in American prime time television. “People are attracted to attractive things and what kind of woman is supposed to be attractive, has already been predetermined. But after having seen such unique body types onscreen, fans look up to female celebrities and strive to have careers like them, and not just follow their diet regime to ape them,” Lecher enlightens.
Finally, the rise in feminism could also be attributed to the reduction of feelings discontent among women. As the reality of the airbrushed and photoshopped modelling world has been exposed, women have begun to scoff at the ridiculous standard the modelling industry has set.
This includes models themselves. While some models struggled to maintain the ideal body image, their self-confidence and physical health were affected during the process. Former models like Cara Delevingne and Ajak Deng have quit modelling as it began to affect their psychological well-being and physical health. But women are now making statements by quitting the modelling industry, proving how unhealthy the fashion and beauty industry is.
“The modelling industry is highly competitive and you’re under duress to constantly exercise and diet. Your figure is your biggest asset in the modelling industry, which I believe demeans women,” says Aylin Kaya, a former model. “There is so much more to a woman than just her body. I didn’t like being objectified, that’s why I quit and chose to go to university.”
The concept of the ideal body type is gradually dissipating, and society seems to be accepting that as well. “Imperfection is perfection, and that is today’s reality,” says Lecher.
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