We Need to "Normalize Normal Bodies"

It is a problem experienced by many people, ranging across all ages, genders, and races: “body-shaming”. Every day, our society finds a new way to enforce its view of what a successful body type is; for women, it's being a thin, white, blonde model, and for men, it is being a white male with a 6-pack. This notion harms women in particular, as they are subject to more criticism if they are not “skinny” enough. Recently, singer Billie Eilish was the victim of this shaming when she was caught by paparazzi in a different outfit and soon found herself the victim of thousands of negative comments about her body.

 

On October 14th, Eilish was photographed wearing a simple tan tank top with shorts, which showed more of her body than her usual outfits consisting of dark, oversized sweatshirts and pants. While this is a normal outfit for any other celebrity, or any person in general, the Internet was surprised at Eilish’s physique, and many Internet trolls used their online personas to anonymously shame the 18-year-old’s body. One user even commented on Twitter that “in 10 months Billie Eilish has developed a mid-30’s wine mom body.” Eilish has since responded to these trolls by reposting a video from Youtuber Chizi Duru on her Instagram, which urged society to “start normalizing real bodies”. Eilish’s incident is only the most recent example of people commenting on others’ bodies and telling them what is wrong, or unhealthy, even though they have no prior knowledge of that person. 

 

Another unfortunate factor to note about this situation is that Eilish’s body has already been publicly criticized and she is only 18 years old. No woman should ever be subjected to this type of treatment, let alone a woman who just legally became an adult. But the fact of the matter is, society begins to judge young women’s bodies well before they reach 18, and their disapproving remarks or praise is extremely harmful to young women. What’s even worse is that, as women, we know that when we go into public we will be constantly judged, so we often either hide from that judgment or wear outfits that accentuate our bodies. Sometimes we do this for our own enjoyment, or we feel confident enough to rock that crop top, but most of the time, it is so others will like us and praise our bodies. Even Eilish is a victim of this pressure, as she once stated that her baggy and oversized fashion choices stem from wanting to hide her body from others, to avoid the type of judgment she is now receiving.

 

The pressure to conform can also be extremely dangerous to our health. The ‘ideal image’ messages that we receive can have detrimental effects on both our mental and physical health, including the emergence of eating disorders in children and adults who attempt to have the ‘perfect figure’. Studies have shown that globally, eating disorders are on the rise, especially in young women. While these can be attributed to many environmental and genetic factors, it is no secret that society wants women to look a certain way, and if they do not live up to it, they are considered undesirable, which can significantly impact the development of an eating disorder. 

 

So, what is wrong with having a “mid-30’s wine mom body” anyway? NOTHING. To me, having a mid-30’s wine mom body sounds like someone who is living and enjoying a fantastic life, raised a family, and is healthy, which is all anyone can ask for. Comparing Eilish to a body with the intent of stigmatizing that body not only affects Eilish but everyone else who perceives themselves as having that shape. People begin to wonder, “is it wrong that I look like this?”. In short, no. All bodies are different and unique and should be celebrated, not compared to one another. We should be thankful for what our bodies can do, and not berate ourselves for our physical flaws. After all, no one is perfect, no matter how great they may appear on Instagram.

 

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you feel comfortable in your own body. It is meant for you to live your best life in, it is not merely a feature to be judged by others. I think we all need to take a page from Eilish’s book and learn to accept all bodies, even our own, as they are.

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