Friday, June 06, 2008

Beauty is So Much More Than Thin

I'm not big into reality TV shows, and I never actually watched "America's Next Top Model." I was very impressed to hear about the winner of the 10th cycle of this show. Whitney Thompson won this particular round, and she carries the distinction of being the only 'plus sized' competitor to win this particular competition! She competed wearing a US size 10.

With the average size woman in the US wearing a size 14, I am somewhat perplexed with the labeling of size 10 as 'plus size,' but even so, the fact that someone wearing a size 10 could win a mainstream modeling competition is encouraging to me.

I feel that we are experiencing some healthy shifts in regards to body image and perceptions of beauty at this moment in history. There are some encouraging signs, and Ms. Thompson's 'win' is one of them.

I listened to an interview she did on "The Big Idea" with Donny Deutsch. She has such a healthy attitude towards her body. She said that she knows she has big thighs, and she considers that a plus. She said that is one of the things that makes her unique and sets her apart from the other women on the runway. YOU GO GIRL!

This beautiful young woman was told that she needed to lose 50 POUNDS if she wanted to model. 50 POUNDS! She looks fabulous, just as she is. She just decided to keep her 50 pounds and be a model anyway. I'm so impressed with her!

Here is an article on wikipedia about Ms. Thompson:

Here is Wikipedia's discussion of what it means to be a plus size model:

Another encouraging sign to me is Jenny Craig's recent 'shift' in their approach to selling their weight loss program. Queen Latifah has joined the Jenny Craig ranks as a spokesperson, without saying how much weight she wants to lose. Her focus is on being 'a size healthier' rather than on changing her weight or size for appearance sake. I am so happy to see this. In my own recovery from my eating disorder, and the evolution/healing of my body image, this has become my approach. I do not eat or exercise to lose weight. I eat and exercise to become healthier, stronger and increasingly fit. End of story. My goal is to feel good and live a healthy life. Any positive change in my appearance is a by product and a nice extra benefit. It is not my goal.

Jenny Craig's new marketing approach is in line with my own thinking. Valerie Bertinelli's role as a spokeswoman for Jenny Craig started with a lot of focus on the number of pounds she wanted to lose, but that too has shifted. I saw a recent commercial where Valerie has started surfing again and she now declares that she is a 'size surfer girl' when asked to reveal her dress size. I love it.

I have always noticed that Queen Latifah makes no apologies for her weight or body. I admire and appreciate that. I think she is a beautiful, talented and vibrant woman at any size. I suspect that when asked to be a spokesperson for Jenny Craig, she might have had a great deal of influence on the nature of the marketing campaign. That's just a hunch, but it would be consistent with her views of herself.

Here is Queen Latifah's website.

One of the trailblazers in the 'plus size modeling world' is Emme (Melissa Aronson). She's one of my heroes because she was out there blazing that trail before it was fashionable, cool or even acceptable. All women owe her a debt of gratitude.

Here are a couple of websites about Emme:

While there are others who could be acknoweldged and thanked in this cultural shift, I'll leave it at that. I think its exciting that we seem to be expanding our notion of what is beautiful in this culture. It is so important that we learn to accept ourselves as we are, embrace our bodies for what they are, and work towards health and happiness, and not be focused in a shallow and vain way on our appearances. The health of our world depends on us continuing to make this shift.

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