HEALTH. STRENGTH. POSITIVITY.
Dear Hannah Betts,
I do not know you. I have never met you. In fact the only contact I have ever had with you is when I read your delightful article on the Daily Mail this morning, entitled "Death of the waist: Once hourglass figures were coveted. Today's obsession with fitness is leaving stars like Davina McCall and Gwyneth Paltrow with androgynous physiques".
I firmly believe that women are strong and intelligent and deserve to be treated equally and fairly not only by the opposite sex but by each other. Therefore, I would like to ask you a question that has been in the forefront of my mind since reading your article: what happened to this notion of women sticking up for women? What happened to supporting one another, being kind to one another, respecting one another? Women get a LOT of stick in the media, girls struggle with self confidence, we are constantly bombarded with heavily photoshopped images of perfection (I'm sure as a woman working in media yourself, you are all too aware of the editing that goes on behind the scenes). You'd have thought after years of this treatment, maybe this would inspire us to band together and stand up for ourselves. But upon finding your article this morning, I quickly learnt that unfortunately this is still not the case. Forgive me, but at first glance I (wrongly) assumed the article must have been written by a man. Surely a woman could not openly degrade other women so publicly and unashamedly? How can one of the largest online platforms in the UK even for a moment think it is acceptable to publish an article which is such a blatant a body shaming attack on women? ESPECIALLY an article written by another woman.
Let's break it down for a minute: if you're overweight, you're called fat. So you lose weight, but maybe a bit too much weight for the media's liking, so now you're called anorexic, skinny, bony. So you work hard in the gym, change your diet, eat healthily... and yet this is still not enough as you are now branded 'obsessed with fitness', but what's even worse than this, is that you think it's ok to write sentences such as: "...Thus the hourglass shape that has dominated cultural imaginations since the prehistoric age is being traded in for a lean, fatless, linear look, leaving its owners resembling, in many cases, slender, pert-bottomed little boys". (I'd just like to take this moment to point out that this body of a "little boy" that Davina McCall is apparently sporting is the same body which had the strength and athleticism to complete a 500 mile run, swim and cycle from Edinburgh to London in aid of Sport Relief.... but of course this incredible strength and determination means nothing if she doesn't have an hour glass figure to show for it).
You can't win. If you are seen eating someone is judging your choice of food, if you're not seen eating it is assumed you must be skipping meals. If you go to the gym you're obsessed with your looks and if you don't you're lazy and unhealthy. I appreciate that we all have different opinions of what is attractive, but please, if mine or anyone else's natural body shape is not one that appeals to you, don't go out of your way to ruin our day by telling us that. Furthermore, why are we still so concerned with the way people's bodies LOOK. The main point that your article has missed is that HEALTH is far more important that BODY SHAPE. Even in 2016 people are struggling to understand that health can manifest itself in many different shapes and sizes, you can have a healthy BMI but be on the brink of diabetes, you can be classed as overweight for your height but actually be incredibly healthy! I get it: muscles on women aren't everyones cup of tea. But who am I or you or anybody else to judge that? My own body composition contains far more muscle than it did this time last year, and I love those strong, solid parts of my body regardless of whether someone else may think they make me look like a boy (FYI: muscles have actually created MORE curves on my body...), but regardless of how mine, or Davina's or Gwyneth's bodies look, whats most important in all of this is that we have found a way to love our bodies in a world that constantly tells us not to. What's important is that we are healthy; what's important is that we have balance; what's important is that we are happy in our own skin so to be honest, your conceited opinions don't really matter one bit.
But incase you're still struggling to see my point, I'll break it down a bit more for you:
1. Muscle does not diminish or increase your ability to be classed as an hour glass. Your body shape is determined by genetics and bone structure, and no matter how many of us may LOVE to change this, unfortunately it will never be possible. The reality is, even before these stars became so called 'obsessed' with fitness, they were never classed as 'hourglasses'. So strike one against the Daily Mail for making the sweeping statement that all women can and should be curvy. Here's the reality of my situation: I am 5 foot 4. I have had periods in my life where I did absolutely no exercise, and periods (like currently), where I train incredibly intensely in the gym. I lift heavy weights on an almost daily basis, but guess what Daily Mail!?! Throughout my whole adult life I have ALWAYS maintained a 24 inch waist! What is this trickery you cry? Funnily enough, it's called my body shape. And although lifting weights can tone and shape your body to some degree, it will never alter your bone structure, genetic body shape, or WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE A "PERFECT" HOURGLASS FIGURE.
2. Following the above, I could give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your article was only trying to promote a different body ideal to the Size 0 prototype we so often see in magazines and runways, stating (albeit incredibly insensitively) that curvy women can be beautiful too and we should embrace different body types. But wait a minute.... surely this cannot be the case when simultaneously the same website responsible for publishing your article is always the first to post unflattering bikini shots of celerities and is never shy about remarking on their weight gain or cellulite.
At the end of the day, the point I am trying to make is that I wish that we would all stop glorifying one particular body shape or size and in the process diminish someone else's self confidence. You have the right to feel happy and comfortable in your body no matter what shape or size it may manifest, and I truly hope that one day we will all learn to prioritise health and happiness above aesthetics.