About eight or nine years ago, I dated a woman for a few months who was a model. As you might expect, she was beautiful. She had a lovely face and a perfectly proportioned and perfectly sized body. The odd part? This physically perfect woman was a “plus-size model.”
Since I don’t pay attention to fashion or to modeling, I hadn’t consciously realized until then just how insane the world of modeling had become. I didn’t realize just how hideous most models are. And I didn’t realize just how warped most women’s images of their own bodies have become.
I’m thinking about this today because of publicity from a story in Plus Model magazine about the difference in size between mainstream models and plus-size models. The magazine argues that models small enough to work in mainstream modeling meet the definition of anorexic. I don’t know about that, but I do know that I almost never find those waifs attractive.
What I’ve become sure of is that women have very distorted images of their body size today. Is it from the anorexic girls they see presented to them as the examples of what women should look like? I have no idea. I’m just sure that the truth has become distorted beyond hope in many of them. I’m going to mention three examples of women I’ve known.
When I was a senior in high school, a very attractive girl in my graduating class suddenly started losing weight. She wasn’t eating anything and she seemed to become obsessed with her size. She had been a perfectly normal-sized girl — not the slightest bit overweight — but she was suddenly afraid that if she ate anything, she would become a cow. She started falling asleep in class and this previously attractive girl started taking on a “death camp survivor” look. In college, I got to know her well and understood the emotional causes of the problem. She got over the issue and returned to normal size, but she retained psychological and physical scars of the ordeal.
About 10 years ago, I dated a woman who was 5-9 and 128 pounds. To normal people, that sounds skinny, but she thought she was far too big, because she had been only 112 pounds in high school. She had “ballooned” to 128 by the time she was 28 years old. She was still too skinny, but she was convinced she was too big.
Last, the most attractive woman I know isn’t anorexic and never has been, but because she does have a normal-sized body, she’s convinced that she’s unattractive. She thinks she’s huge and doesn’t feel good about herself. If you met her, you’d never know it, because she doesn’t talk about it. But it messes with her head and distorts her sense of self. A woman who should realize that she’s strikingly beautiful and perfect-sized is paranoid about her body instead. Why? Is it the distorted message she gets from the media? Is it from comparing herself to overly skinny girls and assuming she’s supposed to be like them? I don’t know.
If you happen to be a naturally skinny woman — and I know that a few skinny women are very beautiful — I don’t mean this as a criticism of you. If it happens to work for you because of your genetics, that’s fine. But, honestly, I’m not going to find you as attractive as the fuller-figured women. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
If you’re a man, I’m curious what you really think. Take a look at the photos in the Plus Model magazine spread and tell me whether the waif or the bigger woman is more attractive to you. The waif is a size 0. The bigger woman is a size 12-14, according to her bio. (Before you head over there, let me warn you that the women are naked, with certain parts simply strategically covered. If you’d rather avoid the pictures, the woman here in the black dress is the plus-size model, Katya Zharkova.) I find the bigger woman far, far more attractive. If you agree with me, I hope you’ll take the time to let the normal-sized women in your life know that you appreciate them not being anorexic and not trying to be something they’re not.
If you’re a woman, I’d like you to look at the pictures and ask yourself which you’d be happier being. I’ll bet most women would instinctively prefer to be the size 0, if they’re honest. I hope not, but I suspect it’s true. For what it’s worth, I have to tell you that if that is what you would like for yourself, you’re seeking to be something that most guys in real life don’t want.
And if you happen to be that attractive woman I spoke of in the third example above, I hope you’ll realize that you’re perfect the way you are — at just the size you are. Of course, there’s more to being attractive than being the right size. Everyone already knows that I give lots and lots of extra bonus points to women who are smart, funny and like to read. Who could ask for more than that?
Real women — with curvy bodies and well-developed minds and beautiful hearts and nuanced values — are the interesting ones. Not the women who appear to have just been released from concentration camps.