The Problem With "Perfect"


      Myla Dalbesio is the new face of Calvin Klein and a size 10 model, a combination that seemed impossible just a few short years ago. Images of Dalbesio's Calvin Klein "Perfectly Fit" campaign have been streaming all over the internet for the past 24 hours. CK’s famous underwear advertisements have previously launched the careers of Brooke Shields, Kate Moss, and even Mark "Marky-Mark" Wahlberg. Finally, in 2014, the brand has presented a revolutionary, yet seemingly long overdue, representation of an "average" sized woman. The brand has received some unnecessary backlash for this marketing decision. Several media outlets mistakenly labeled Dalbesio as Calvin Klein's new "plus size" model. The brand has never called Dalbesio plus size, rather, "perfectly fit." In recent interviews over the controversy, Dalbesio has self-identified as an “in-betweeny” struggling with a modeling career as an in-between sized model, far from both the typical runway size 0 and the “plus size” size 18. Dalbesio has shared her fashion industry prudence, noting a need to include models of all realistic shapes and sizes, those who cover the vast middle ground, not just either of the extremes. Rising to international fame, the size 10 model now serves as a role model for young women across the globe. Like so many women today, Dalbesio has admitted to having struggled with eating disorders throughout her career. 

    It is unbelievable to think that a mentally, emotionally, physically debilitating illness has plagued an entire demographic, yet the issue is constantly satirized, downplayed, over looked and laughed about. Models like Dalbesio might soon become the fashion industry norm. Could our society be inching toward a world where size 10 is celebrated instead of shamed? Will article titles like “5 Reasons to Date a Girl With an Eating Disorder” simply one day not exist? And yes, satirical or not, that is a real article.

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     Life as a college age woman today, at any size, can feel like an uphill battle. Too thin? I’m sick, disgusting and even grotesque. Not thin enough? then I’m just fat, depressed or have “lost all self control.” This is a double edged sword that we are forced to swallow, three times a day, everyday. Every morsel of food consumed is strategically planned. A plan set out for the pleasure of buttoning skinny jeans, confidently wearing that crop top.Your body size is now seen as the physical manifestation of your self control. The National Association for Anorexia and Associated Disorder reports, "91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. 22% dieted “often” or “always.” Statistically shocked? yeah, probably not. If you are like me, you probably don’t know a single person who doesn’t fat shame either themselves or other people, on a weekly basis. We can’t seem to break free of this idea of constant self-improvement. 

       The mass prestige ascribed to the Kardashian family has sparked an enormous change in female body image. Kim Kardashian’s plump booty has promoted a positive acceptance of “thickness” and being proud of having a little more junk in the trunk. The most famous person on the planet is known solely for her vulumptious build, yet she also struggles with the pressure to be and stay thin. 

       On August 1st, Kim instagramed a #flashbackfriday. The caption read “#FBF ughhh I am 20 lbs lighter here! This was just 5 years ago! Ok I’m going back on my grind. I gotta get back here!” A classic instance of female fat shaming, only this one has 695511 "likes." Unfortunately, many women today, (including myself) are all too familiar with this syntax. My close friends can tell you that I shamefully repeat the sentence “I need to lose 20-30 pounds” in the presence of any mirror, reflection or moment of silence that I come across (maybe I just need to unfollow KimK's insta account). Like many, I carry my own self-loathing demons around, but this is a shared sentiment. Accepting and promoting an imagined necessity for weight loss is an unfortunate commonplace for too many women today. Fat shaming has become a standard in our colloquial dialogue, it’s not just my group of friends and it’s certainly not just yours. It comes in all shapes and sizes, ages, races and economic backgrounds. We are stuck in a toxic environment, hating ourselves for what we look like, no matter the size. Hating our genetics for “these hips” and “this metabolic rate” or all that lack of control I am believed to "carry in my stressful mid section." Aside from the long history of objectifying the female body, size has become a tool to differentiate our status in society. Body image is now the new prejudice.

      The pressure to be as thin as humanly possible entered my life far before puberty. I was in a public park bathroom after school with a friend who made me swear on my life not to tell anyone. She started to tear and confessed she had been forcefully vomiting her dinner, every night for the last two weeks, I was eleven and she had just turned twelve. I guess my moral compass powered by a combination of Degrassi the Next Generation, Lifetime Television and Judy Blume books forced me to blab the rest of our friend group and my sympathetic middle school guidance counselor. I felt that sh*tty lung hitting your bowels kind of feeling when she was called into the office. I was confronted with the same collapsed lung sucked getting through your large intestine feeling, again just recently. A different narrative, now, my oldest friend. That one friend, who is responsible for shaping your entire childhood. The friend whose parents become your parents, whose family vacations become your family vacations, whose clothes, makeup and emotional problems are all instantly taken on as your own. Last fall, she told me she was taking a medical leave from school and admitted herself into an in-patient rehabilitation center for anorexia, a junior at a prestigious private university, I was twenty and she was 102 pounds.

        Again, this is nothing out of the ordinary for most of us. In 2014, it is far too common to have personally struggled with, or have been closely affected by, an eating disorder. While we laugh at the juice cleansing, soul-cycle, lululemon sporting, salad loving, gluten free & dairy free (by choice), calorie-counting stereotype of a millennial college girl, this snapshot is a reality for women across the nation. To make a long story short, I highly commend the Calvin Klein brand for advertising what is considered an “average or normal sized”American female body for their perfectly fit campaign. However,Voltaire one said "perfect is the enemy of good."

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