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Love the Skin You’re In

I love a good survey.  Not the answering of them (why do they always call when I’m about to burn my steak?).  Just comparing my life with the results, to make sure I’m normal.  I mean, how would I know whether I was frigid or as easy as a game of Snap if Cleo wasn’t there to tell me the average number of partners an Australian woman has before marriage (my virtue fares well, by the way).

So with glee I read men’s mag FHM’s questionnaire, which claims that of the 60,000 respondents, 80% of men prefer women to be a size 12 – 14, rather than a wan size 8.  Given it was conducted online, and none of the questions were preceded with “are you currently sitting alone in a dark room feeling your own nipples?”, I’m not fully convinced of the survey’s credibility.  Nonetheless, I’m certain women hearing that result would be surprised.

Ideally we wouldn’t be judged on our appearance at all, but rather our brains, soul and perhaps how loud we can burp after chugging down a jug of Coke Zero, but still, nice to know skinny minny isn’t the go.

The unfortunate thing is that a man’s opinion is way down on the scale of care factor.  Our girlfriend’s appraisal sits atop that ladder, followed by that of our mothers, our peers, and slotted in there in varying positions, the most vicious judgement of all – our own body image.  And according to all of those stake-holders, thin is best.

We can’t help it.  Every day, we are bombarded with thousands of advertising images that teach us as children there is a beauty ideal.  Whether its Barbie, Kylie or Paris, every role model paraded through our loungerooms is no bigger than the teenagers who idolise them.  This is reinforced when, as adults, we turn our attention to fashion, and the mags and catwalks that celebrate its cadaverous divas.

Never mind that every woman we compare ourselves to has had professional makeup (not the cover stick and bronzer I limit myself to), clever photographers (with magical lighting designed to eliminate any excess chins), and, of course, so much airbrushing their own mother wouldn’t recognise them.

Manipulation of the form, both male and female, is so consistent throughout the media, it is impossible to differentiate fantasy from fact.  In recognition of this and its damaging impact, there has been a strong push for the media, advertising and fashion industries to use images responsibly, promote diverse and healthy body types, and basically not to tell bald faced lies about what people really look like.

But I think we can all commit to such a shift personally.  It’s really just a matter of mindset.  For instance, look at our fear and loathing of cellulite.  It seems to me, cellulite is a natural occurrence that happens when a girl becomes a woman, at the same time she develops such lovely adult female things as breasts, hips and the ability to guilt a guy into saying no to his mates.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could change our mindset from thinking cellulite was hideous and just accepted it as a normal part of being a woman, perhaps even a beautiful part of being a woman.

The world would be a much happier place.  Playboy and Sports Illustrated would hail the hail damage.  Celebrities would be awarded People Magazine’s Bumpiest in 2013.  And poor unfortunate girls who had no cellulite would wear undergarments with egg cartons embedded in them so they could get that gorgeous cottage cheesy look.

All right, I ran away with myself there, but we each of us can make a difference beyond this fantasy.  Don’t compete with, encourage your girlfriends.  Be careful what you say around your children (male and female – body image impacts everyone!).  Cut yourself some slack.

Wear what you like and feel good in, not what is supposedly the latest hot look.  Don’t be so quick to turn to plastic surgery – too much in the face will have you look like a cabbage patch doll, and when it comes to bigger bosoms, try a push-up bra first.  It’s cheaper, less painful and doesn’t need to be inserted through your nipples.

Image pressure never leaves us, no matter our age.  Prime Minister Gillard will vouch for that, as she is savaged for her choice of jacket (I mean, for God’s sake, I think she’s got a bit more to worry about than if her bum looks big).

So love the skin you’re in.  And when a survey asks “what body size is the most beautiful?” answer “mine”.

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