How much does beauty weigh?

Beauty, Guidance

Black beauty

Above are two of the most beautiful women I have photographed, not just because of their physical beauty, but because of their strength of character and the love they radiate as mothers. But you wont see them on bill-boards and ad campaigns because they do not fit the beauty ‘standard’ that has been set by society. You know the standard I’m talking about, the one where you have to be below a certain dress size, above a certain height and below a certain age…

When you have been forced to look at that one ‘type’ of beauty day in and day out for the whole of your life, its no wonder you might be conditioned to only recognize that one type of beauty!! What about all the other types?? When our own beauty doesn’t match this ‘standard’ we start feeling less than adequate, but who wants to be standard anyway?! Be YOU in all your unique glory!!

My advice would be to make a conscious decision to AVOID too much exposure to ‘beauty’ and ‘celebrity’ magazines where this type of beauty is idealized, watch LESS TV, and most importantly, don’t compare your unique beauty to someone else’s.  Think about it, these magazines firstly tell us what we should think is beautiful, and then go and publish the worst pictures they can find of those models and celebrities without makeup or in bad light, in a bid to somehow make us feel better or show us they are not that beautiful after all? However, shaming someone else for not always looking their best isn’t a positive way of making ourselves feel better. A better way would be to represent all beauty types in the first place. Take for instance, the latest Selfridges advertising campaign The Beauty Project, which uses unconventional models and no retouching.

We should also remember that size is viewed differently depending on which country you come from. In the TED blog this week it states that countries with a low socioeconomic status (i.e. poorer countries) value a body that carries more fat, since “body fat is an indicator of status where resources are scarce”. Could our preference for thin body types also come from this same ‘status’ value? If you think that we prefer a thinner body because its healthier, think again. Last week’s New Scientist (3 May issue) contains an article about the misleading idea that being overweight or obese is unhealthy. Research has shown that actually overweight and obese people are NO MORE likely to die prematurely of diseases (such as cardiovascular disease or cancer) than a ‘normal’ weight person (using the BMI scale – body mass index). This is because weight is not an indicator of fitness. In fact, an underweight person is more likely to die prematurely of disease compared to an obese person. Yes, you read that correctly! The problem is, that even now that we know an ‘overweight’ person can be just as healthy as a ‘normal’ weight person, is that the terms ‘overweight‘ and ‘obese‘ are not positive ones and we have created a stigma, shame and discrimination towards those who carry more body fat. So apart from needing to redefine what we consider overweight or obese in the first place, we now also need to find a new term… a bit like CURVY, but more scientific… and which can apply to both sexes… any ideas?!

The BMI scale also, is an outdated method of deciding whether someone is overweight or not. I recently took a BMI test with Fitness First and I came out as ‘mildly obese’. Well, I am a size 10-12, am 5ft 5 and weigh around 10 stone. I don’t call that mildly obese? Perhaps they just wanted me to sign up! Well I didn’t. I get plenty of exercise cycling to work and jogging around the park, and some body weight exercises at home.

When Kate Moss uttered those famous words “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”… I thought to myself, well the poor woman has no idea how it even feels to have wonderful, voluptuous, sumptuous curves, so she has nothing to compare ‘skinny’ to… It’s like saying nothing tastes as good as bread, when you have never tasted anything BUT bread!

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