The Truth About Body Size in Today's Society

This is not an article about exercise and eating right. We get enough of those on our Facebook feeds. This article does not aim to encourage you to run to the gym after you read it or throw out the loaf of bread sitting on your counter. This article is going to relate to every insecurity and feeling of self-doubt you hide inside of you every day. It is going to appeal to your innermost thoughts about your body. It is going to rant about the injustice "plus-size" women feel as a result of our discriminatory society. It's time we had some real talk about body positivity. 

Why can't "Large" be called "Beautiful"? 

Who decided that clothing sizes should be determined by a scale? Sure, it makes sense that a "Large" denotes a size that is bigger than say, a "Small." But there are so many other words in the dictionary that we could use to label our clothing. Imagine if instead of Small, Medium, Large, sizes were "Pretty," "Sexy," and "Beautiful"? What if instead of an XL, I was a size "Lovely"? There is an inherent problem in our society with how we label our clothing. No wonder young girls are ashamed to be an Extra Large, because there is so much negativity surrounding the word, "Large." Also, there is a significant amount of prejudice placed on "plus-size" women that society does not recognize. We recognize the racial prejudice and gender/sexuality prejudice, but what about the discrimination against curvy girls? Why can't a girl with DDD boobs buy a bathing suit in a common retail store? Why do women have to struggle to find bikinis that will hold up their chest? Why must we go out of our way to search for a top that looks like a bra in stores that cater to "our type of woman"? Why does everyone else get to wear fun bathing suits while I have to search for the least-ugly pattern in the store? There is more to body shaming than bullies and negative social media influence. Maybe if we changed the way society approached "larger" women, starting with the way we sort their clothing, maybe then we can end the stigma that surrounds "largeness." 

Skinny does not mean happy 

Growing up, I was never the skinny girl. When I played on organized sports teams and performed in dance recitals, I was always one of the bigger kids. Not only did I hit puberty way too early, I was just a big girl. I towered over my classmates and teammates and always had to choose the largest jersey or uniform to fit my growing body. I wasn't overweight, I was fit and strong. I couldn't help but compare myself to my friends who didn't have to wear a "maximum support" sports bra, because I was envious of the ease with which they seemed to embrace their body confidence. But in middle school and early high school years, I wasn't too focused on it, because I was happy with my life. It is true that as people grow older and distance themselves from after-school sports teams and such, it may become harder to control their weight because they are not getting the same amount of exercise. For me, this wasn't a problem. I was trained to be athletic from a young age, and while I wasn't always the fastest down the court or did the most (or any) pull-ups during gym class, I held my own. While I'm convinced that no one can sincerely love exercise, I liked the structure that working out gave me. Exercising everyday afforded me a sense of accomplishment that helped to structure my day. During high school, I struggled with depression and anxiety, and it demonstrated itself in my eating habits. My disordered eating did not come from a desire to be thin, but that was the result of it. I lost 50 pounds in a year's time, and while I may have been a Size 2 in jeans, I was an emotional wreck. Four years later, I am struggling with my weight in a different sense. I gained all of the weight back plus some, and now I exercise and eat clean in order to feel emotionally and physically healthy. The truth is, I am happier now with more meat on my bones than I ever was when I was a Size 2. While I may not be completely comfortable in my skin, I am working towards the best version of myself. 

When did the definition of "beautiful" change? 

I share my story because I am proof that being skinny does not equal happiness. Being described as "beautiful" applies to so much more than a number on a scale. We, as a society, need to change our mentality about body image. We are all guilty of those moments when an actress walks onstage at an awards show and we blurt out, "Wow, she got chunky." Who are we to comment on her size? Hypocrites? Years ago, the iconic image of a sexy woman was a woman who wore a Size 10 with curves that swayed when she walked - this woman was healthy, confident, and strong. When did the definition of "hot" and "pretty" change to women with flat chests and nothing between their skin and bones? While we may not know how this image of the ideal woman changed, there is so much we, as a society, can do to change it back. Models like Ashley Graham are the kind of instruments needed for this change. Ashley Graham is strong, fit, curvy, confident, and healthy. Young girls need more role models like her because she demonstrates the way a woman should look. Marilyn Monroe was not a Size 2. Jennifer Lawrence has curves. So why do girls focus on the Kendall Jenner's and Gigi Hadid's of the world? Society needs to put more Marilyn back in young girls' hearts, because you are beautiful, no matter what a clothing label says.