In the olden days of the eighteenth century, being fat was a symbol of your wealth and power. Your larger build meant that your family could afford plenty of food. It meant you were lucky. Makes sense, right?
By 1800, corsets had spiked in popularity. Long, slim waists were all the rage. Curvy women remained a symbol of beauty until the early twentieth century, but as women’s clothing began revealing more and more skin, narrow hips and soft curves became more and more accepted as the standard of beauty. Though body ideals have changed over time—from the roaring twenties’ desirable flat chests to the 1950’s hourglass figure to modern time’s thigh gap craze—there is one pattern that you can find.
Fat is not the “ideal” body type, and hasn’t been for a long time.
Modern society has an obsession with thinness, so far that it has led to an increase in the amount of anorexia cases by at least fifteen percent in the past five years. This obsession has also created a level of discrimination against people who don’t fit this beauty standard that the internet has coined “fatphobia”. Fatphobia is self explanatory: discrimination against heavier people. Many people would argue that fatphobia does not exist, but these are the same people that are “just concerned about your health!!!” and “would never date a fat girl!” and constantly ask, “…are you really gonna eat that?”
Fatphobia is a very real and very harmful type of body shaming, most certainly caused by the impossible beauty standards set for women, men and nonbinary people alike. It’s gone so far as to heavier people being shamed by their peers, their families, and even celebrities. These are people who know they significantly influence the youth, and still find it in themselves to shame bodies for being bodies.
Saturday night, Steph Curry’s wife tweeted, “Everyone’s into barely wearing clothes these days huh? Not my style. I like to keep the good stuff covered up for the one who matters.”
There are quite a few things wrong with this tweet, from the accusation that there is something wrong with wearing revealing clothing to the idea that there is only ‘one’ who matters.
Slut shaming and body shaming tend to go hand in hand. For instance, if a girl who fits the ideal beauty standard wears a crop top, it’s not always a big deal. Maybe it’s sexy. But when a fat girl wears a crop top? End of the world. She’s a slut, she needs to cover up, she needs to lose weight, etc etc etc.
Though there are many types of body shaming—including the shaming of too-skinny girls, non-muscular boys, people who don’t fit eurocentric beauty standards and many more—fatphobia seems to be the most prevalent type at the moment, due to the strict dieted models we are taught to idolize, the airbrushed magazine covers that we worship and all our other favorite celebrities who have gone through plastic surgery to make us jealous of their thin waisted, toned bodies with their large breasts and dainty fingers. They are not the standard that we have to reach. There is no standard of beauty we have to reach.
Ultimately, there is no wrong way to have a body. Ideal beauty standards are media constructs that come and go and change in the blink of an eye. They are used as a tool for controlling the younger generation—girls specifically—into being self conscious and unloving towards their bodies. Your body is beautiful, no matter if you’re ninety pounds or a hundred and ninety or two hundred and ninety or anything high, lower, or in between. Your body is beautiful, even if you have a unique number of fingers or toes or you have battle scars or acne or anything. Your body is beautiful, and it’s always going to be beautiful, no matter what your peers tell you, no matter what your family tells you, no matter what the bullshit beauty standards tell you.
There is no wrong way to have a body.