There's a disturbing amount of hyprocrisy in the modern world, but few areas experience it more than the battleground that is the female form. The crux of the issue is highlighted nicely in this article, but the issue initially came to a head to me when I found a furious group of mums rallied against a certain childrens' tv programme by the name of Winx Club. A relatively innocent premise, involving friendship, good vs evil and, of course, magical fairies, seems innocent enough, but a quick image search results in a series of characters who wouldn't look out of place in a soft porn anime.
Here's my problem with the way that women are preached to today. It's bloody hypocritical.
(A Google search for 'a normal woman')
As the article previously mentioned states, women are expected to be either fat or thin, and are judged as an extension of either of these two types. There is no room for a body that is uncategorised, or to put it another way, the majority. Trinny and Susannah made a decent start when they categorised womens' body shapes beyond the standard pear, apple and hourglass, but there's still a massive discrepancy between body shape and body size.
This we know. This is fact. Womens' bodies (and mens', for that matter) have always been different shapes and sizes. Historically, every generation has had a perfect shape. Artists, trends and fashions dictated said shape, as they do now. The difference is that, at that time, they at least had the decency to only push one stereotype. Fat women conveyed a certain character, and so did thin women. There was an interesting article in this month's Elle relating to how an actress' casting relates to her size and shape - a comparison is made between the breakdowns suffered onscreen by a character played by Marilyn Monroe and by Mia Farrow. Frail Mia is described as 'losing her mind', while bountiful Monroe 'just kept losing her clothes'. It's been over 150 years since Jane Eyre first drew comparisons between womens' body shapes (plain, unwomanly, thin little Jane, buxom and pretty Blanche, and 'corpulent' Bertha).
150 years ago, women wore corsets, because it was the done thing. Sure, they couldn't breathe, but they didn't have to deal with the patronising bullshit hypocrisy that is an article telling you how best to lose weight 'to suit your shape' while trying to insist that, yes, it appreciates all bodies. Because the industry does. It just appreciates that it has to find new ways to make us feel bad about ours.
It's all around us, this inherrent need to judge a woman based on how she looks. An extract from a recent review of Haywire (described as an action movie 'with a female twist') by the critic Tweeting the story chose the extract that describes the heroine's physique, not a particularly finely honed phrase describing the film itself. Grazia was beside itself when on-set photos of Mildred Pierce were released. the cause of their upset being not the poor direction, the script, but Kate's 'dowdy' wardrobe.
I don't know what the answer is. We have education, a place in politics and female CEOs, but we have little girls being told they're fat by tv, the toy industry and the media, statement parroted by their friends, and we have women in terrible difficulty following the PIP implants scandal whose only desire was a little confidence. All I know is that we are potentially worse off than we were when our only job was to clean the kitchen and feed the babies. Because now we are smart enough to look round at the utter mess that has been made of our self-perception, and that of our children, and wonder how on earth we can go about fixing it.
(The above video is a song called 'Truth of a Woman'. It's a beautifully honest encouragement for every person to appreciate the body of whichever woman they are lucky enough to see.)