As a society, we must stop making certain body shapes and sizes trendy. This isn’t a revolutionary or unpopular opinion, but it is something I constantly see and am affected by daily. I am imploring us, as human beings, to stop accepting unhealthy body ideals. Young women are constantly bombarded with images of thin bodies with perky breasts on social media and ad campaigns. These body types are by no means average — or even healthy — yet, women grow up desiring to look like supermodels. We must put an end to the fetishization of certain body types. We shouldn’t only praise one breast size, as this is something no one has control over. Thigh gaps aren’t an indicator of health, and plenty of healthy people don’t have thigh gaps. We should begin to promote healthy bodies, not idealistic bodies. Regardless of body shape, you should celebrate your body.
Many modern lingerie stores promote these unrealistic ideals as well. Victoria’s Secret upholds a problematic prototype for female body shapes: impossibly lean. These body shapes are achieved through a strict diet that includes the limitation of food intake and excessive exercise. Not only are the models all stick-thin, so-called “plus-size” models are excluded entirely. The director of the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was quoted saying he has no interest in including a wider range of sizes and shapes in the fashion show. The world’s leading lingerie supplier openly caters to women of an unrealistic ideal, which causes girls around the world to starve themselves to achieve supermodel-like proportions. With this influence, Victoria’s Secret should do a better job to be more inclusive of realistic body sizes.
Luckily, brands such as American Eagle’s Aerie and Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty exist for people of all shapes and sizes. Models for these two companies come in all shapes, sizes and abilities. Aerie’s website includes unedited pictures of women of all ages sporting their cute undies and bralettes, so you get a more realistic idea of what you may look like in the products. You can see stretch marks, rolls and scars on these natural models. Rihanna hosted a fashion show to promote her lingerie line and included models from all walks of life: big, small, cisgender and transgender. Between these two companies, everyone can feel represented.
Representation does matter. Little girls need to grow up knowing that they are beautiful, regardless of the size of their tummy, the fact that they are wheelchair-bound or that they have stretch marks — they should feel confident from day one. Body shapes aren’t trendy, styles of clothes are. Our generation is having to reinvent beauty standards, since we have been force-fed from day one that you can only be beautiful if you are a size 0 with blond hair and blue eyes. Beauty is a size 16 with stretch marks. Beauty is the pregnant model who was in Rihanna’s fashion show. Beauty is natural hair. Beauty is you.
Hannah Whitaker is a UF English junior