::THIS IS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE, WHEN DOVES GET DECONSTRUCTED::
So. Yeah. I weighed over 225 pounds once.
I'm 5'9"; that was "obese" based on my body mass index. Grad school and a boyfriend with a big appetite did it to me (as did, since I'm a fan of personal responsibility, my unhealthy attitude towards food and my eating habits). I didn't really notice that I'd gained so much weight, even when I had to buy pants to replace the pants I bought to replace the pants I got when my pants got too tight. I guess I had the reverse of body image issues: I looked in the mirror and saw the same body I had in college.
I started recognizing that I needed to do something when I saw myself on TV. I thought, "Um, why do I look like I'm made of foam rubber?" And the answer was, "Because you're really fat, Summer."
It took a mighty dumping by said boyfriend to jumpstart me into losing weight. Honestly, I wanted to lose it so I could be back in "hunting form." I didn't seek to get healthier. I just wanted to look better.
Now, I have always laughed at people who ask "Does this make me look fat?" because the answer's in the question. What you
think about how you look is what matters. That question is impossible
to answer usefully by a second party. If you aren't fat and you think you look that way, then nothing will convince you otherwise. If you are fat, then you will look fat. Vertical stripes only go so far (ha ha, non-Euclidian joke).
So thanks to Weight Watchers
, I lost 75 pounds. And I've kept it off. (Anyone want to know more? Email me. Address to the left.) Yay!
So. Body issues? I'm conflicted. And now, there are these Dove ads.
Their Campaign for Real Beauty
seeks to convince the world that "real beauty" can be found outside the realm of size-2 models. There are billboards featuring their models, all of whom are larger than most lingerie hawkers.
I first saw the billboard and thought, "Hm. None of those women are reallyreally skinny! And none of them have fake boobs! And all of them are wearing boring white underwear!" (I am definitely not
into boring white underwear.)
Huge posters of the models are emblazoned across the 24 Hour Fitness ladies' locker room, too.This page
features the models as they are on the billboard. Following that link, you can roll over them (with your mouse
, people!) to learn about each model. Here they are, sans roll-overability:
Julie, second from left, is who you see when you round the (third!) corner into the women's locker room. (She's in the position she's in when you mouse over her on the link.) She's got a great smile (complete with dimples) and Californian, sun-streaked hair. ("I have curves -- and that's okay
!" she says in the intro video.) And, the thing is -- she isn't flabby. At all. She looks solid. Built. Strong.
Lindsey's (the third model's) left gluteus maximus, boyshort, and thighs are two inches from my face when I lean down to dry my hands at the unnaturally low air-dryer. While she's not as toned as Julie is, she's still smooth and non-bulgy.
The product Dove is selling, a firming cream, is supposed to stop cellulite and tighten the skin (or something like that). So they wouldn't pick pale, dimpled thighs or jiggly arms to be featured in their ads, but if they're going for "real" beauty (which, one presumes means "beauty from within" or something as illogical), they sure are pushing a product for the image-conscious woman.
And, while none of the girls are model-thin, none of them are what I'd call "fat." They all are in shape -- both in the physical-fitness way and in the attractively-curvy way. None of them have horribly unsightly bulges (in fact, I would say that although I'm slimmer than several of them, almost all of them have a better body than I). None of them have a single fat roll. None of them have funky, bumpy hips like mine. None of them have thick ankles like mine. They all would look very good, I think, when dressed. "Real" beauty still doesn't encompass the average American woman, who wears -- depending on which study you cite -- between a size 10 and a size 14.
While the Campaign for Real Beauty does take one off-guard, it only ends up reinforcing the ideal that it's trying to subvert. Because real beauty is, by definition, attractive.