With inequality among men and women still present today, it’s easy to forget how bad body politics were at the start. Rose Weitz’s chapter A History of Women’s Bodies sent chills up my spine as I read about women’s bodies being defined as “men’s property” (Weitz 4) in western law. Belief in the feebleness of middle-class women’s bodies even led to a widespread rise in gynecological surgery where healthy uteruses, ovaries and clitorises were removed from women (Weitz 7). It is sickening to think that the view of women’s bodies is seen as anything other than beautiful when they’re the bodies that bring human life onto Earth. While women’s bodies are less commonly seen as “men’s property” and gynecological surgery is no longer on the rise, women around the world are still suffering with unrealistic body images imposed on them by society. Modern appearance standards make women feel that they need to be extremely thin, while also maintaining a muscular and curvy physique. Such standards are inspiring women to spend money on cosmetic surgery, while also placing stress on their diet and spending large amounts of time in the gym (Weitz 10).
As we continue to observe the body issues of women today, it seems that mainstream fashion politics tend to be more directed at “thin, white, heteronormative and gender normative, able bodies” (Connell 211). The idea that thin bodies are what’s worshipped in contemporary society follows the ideas of Weitz and brings to light the mainstream fashion focus on slender bodies. However, there are women putting forth an effort to make those women of a fuller physique feel comfortable with their body image. Fa(t)shion February is a blog that creates a place where “fat bodies” and experiences are worshipped (Connell 213). Users are encourages to not hide their larger bodies, but instead accentuate them. It’s refreshing to have a space where women who have felt self-conscious about their figures can show them off, and begin to feel beautiful and confident about their shape. Although this seems like a big step in the right direction, people still have responded with negative feedback after Connell made an effort to advertise the site. People claimed that the blog was “glamorizing obesity” (Connell 218) and some even compared these larger women to methamphetamine users, pedophiles and alcoholics (Connell 219). It is ignorant to assume that all people with a larger figure look that way for the same reason, and I am appalled that anyone would discourage such a therapeutic space for them.
Luckily large-scale companies such as Barbie are helping women of all races and sizes feel beautiful. Barbie’s sales and profits began to plummet as millennial mothers began to focus more on what their children’s toys represent (Denee). With the shift in focus comes dolls with larger feet, more diverse ethnicities, various skin tones and different body types. The revamped dolls are meant to more accurate reflect today’s society by shifting away from the “impossible proportions” displayed in the past (Denee). With three new body types of curvy, petite, and tall, little girls can grow up feeling more confident throughout their younger years. Instead of young girls growing up believing that Barbie’s one figure is what they should look like, they can feel beautiful no matter what shape they have. As a young girl who struggled with always being taller than the boys, I know it would’ve been more comforting for me to have had a doll that looked like me, so this movement is huge. It seems we are slowly moving into a place where all body types are accepted, but it is clear that road bumps will continue to stand in the way.
Connell, Catherine. “Fashionable Resistance: Queer “Fa(t)shion” Blogging as Counterdiscourse.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly WSQ 41.1-2 (2013): 209-24. Web. 8 June 2016.
Denee, Marie. “Mattel Debuts a NEW and Updated Barbie! Check out the Curvy, Petite, and Tall Barbie!” The Curvy Fashionista. N.p., 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 08 June 2016.
Weitz, Rose. “A History of Women’s Bodies.” The Politics of Women’s Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance and Behavior. Ed. Rose Weitz. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. 3-12. Print.