The size debate: standards of beauty

Standards of beauty and the fashion industry's marketing gimmicks need to be kept separate. Fashion houses always try to sell their stuff as a means to reach an (ultimately unattainable) ideal, and thereby ensure that no fashion consumer is ever fully content.

Here in the chunky west, fashionable rags are made desirable by presenting them on the bodies of elven-like, unusually slender and tall women, who probably didn't acquire their figures just by frequenting the gym and most certainly don't represent the majority.

While I was living in Japan, on the other hand, where a high BMI is rarely the case, I noticed fashion was marketed as a means to achieve a Caucasian appearance - trousers and shoes to make your legs look longer, blouses to emphasise your bosom, etc. Again, the ideal is unattainable, although by buying certain products some people may think they're a step closer to it, and think they're prettier for it.

It's all so depressing.

Commercial modeling geared toward non western ideals is not something i have familiarity with. thanks for the insights, MothBeHe.

MothBeHe wrote:

trousers and shoes to make your legs look longer, blouses to emphasise your bosom, etc.

Funny, you market that in the States and it's "slutty" (and/or "hot").

I would propose not to conflate "ultimately unattainable" with "kind of hard to attain".

You're not going to get Julia Robert's legs by going to the gym, Gorilla. They do that thing where they break your legs and pull the bones apart as they heal, but I don't know of anyone who will do that for cosmetic purposes.

Mom: actually, in proper perspective, I probably have better legs. I am 6' tall, and my pants inseam is 34" *.
Genetics? Probably. What you can't chalk up to lucky genes is my waist size -- it's 30". Because noone is making pants in size 29x34. I don't go to a gym. I bike in a park maybe once or twice per month, and once in a while I rock-climb. I work an 8-to-6 office desk job. All I do is making sure that I consume no more than 1500 calories on a regular day. Depend on how you look at it, it's either extremely easy, or extremely hard.

* - I did not break my legs for cosmetic purposes -- only due to being in a car accident, and I assure you that i was NOT a planned elongation procedure.

I'm not disputing that here. I was just pointing out that those Asian ladies trying to appear to have longer legs are way past "kind of hard to attain".

momgamer wrote:

You're not going to get Julia Robert's legs by going to the gym, Gorilla. They do that thing where they break your legs and pull the bones apart as they heal, but I don't know of anyone who will do that for cosmetic purposes.

It was a thing for a while, until it was banned in China. There's still an industry out there though.

There will always be something women are told they need to fix about themselves. The only thing that changes around the world is what exactly that something is.

ABC is running a story on the K-E diet for brides. Sounds crazy.

The claimed benefits of the technique are laid out here.

we could almost start a whole new thread on the different types of creepy weight loss techniques, from intermittent fasting (or, as my wife calls it, anorexia) to that cayenne pepper + maple syrup + salt water cleanse thing.

I have my own creepy weight loss technique, involving gratuitous amounts of body movement and torture machines.

Spoiler:

Otherwise known as cycling.

to that cayenne pepper + maple syrup + salt water cleanse thing.

I thought it was honey + water + lemon juice?

clover wrote:
momgamer wrote:

You're not going to get Julia Robert's legs by going to the gym, Gorilla. They do that thing where they break your legs and pull the bones apart as they heal, but I don't know of anyone who will do that for cosmetic purposes.

It was a thing for a while, until it was banned in China. There's still an industry out there though.

There will always be something women are told they need to fix about themselves. The only thing that changes around the world is what exactly that something is.

China has a long and hallowed tradition for this kind of thing. As it happens, I took my family to Toronto on Easter week, where we visited the Bata Shoe Museum on Bloor St. They have these tiny ladies shoes on display from 19-20 century China. With a footprint no bigger than the palm of my hand. The description goes that the Chinese admired petite feet, to which end they would bind little girls' feet into these Spanish Boot type of boxes that would squeeze them and stunt the growth...

I am not talking about that "unattainable" type of beauty goals, however. I am talking about "flesh folds not hanging over your jeans' waistband" type of goals.

fangblackbone wrote:
to that cayenne pepper + maple syrup + salt water cleanse thing.

I thought it was honey + water + lemon juice?

they may be the same. I'm thinking of this:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maste...

I don't find intermittent fasting creepy in the least, albeit that would depend on frequency and length. I do it a few times a year to a) reset my eating habits and taste buds, b) detox and c) remind myself of how much the crap I expose my innards to worsens the quality of my sleep. During fasting, I'm jumping off walls after (for me) a measly 7 hours of sleep. Otherwise I need 8 hours just to have the energy to smile.

MothBeHe wrote:

I don't find intermittent fasting creepy in the least, albeit that would depend on frequency and length. I do it a few times a year to a) reset my eating habits and taste buds, b) detox and c) remind myself of how much the crap I expose my innards to worsens the quality of my sleep. During fasting, I'm jumping off walls after (for me) a measly 7 hours of sleep. Otherwise I need 8 hours just to have the energy to smile.

I've heard a lot of similar stories about fasting. I've been curious about that for a long time.

SixteenBlue wrote:

I've heard a lot of similar stories about fasting. I've been curious about that for a long time.

Here's a guide. Pro: it works as well as....well, as extreme calorie restriction works. Con: it really rides that fine line between calorie restriction and anorexia. I'd go so far as to say the only major difference is an irrational fear of food, and that can easily develop.

counterpoint: its criticism of the "grazer" theory alone (eating multiple small meals daily) is worth consideration.

That article makes me wonder if anyone's ever done any statistical studies on the Mormon church on this - a significant percentage of their congregations does monthly 24 hour fasts as part of their beliefs. They even refer to it as "Fast Sunday". Basically anyone who can (no small kids, and no one who can't do it medically safely) fasts for 24 hours and donates the value of the meals they would have eaten to food service programs for the needy. It's not everyone, but it's enough to make a good statistical universe, with built-in control population.

I like that the article's approach was mostly centered around the idea that this works for some people, so try it for yourself and see. I've tried variations on this several times over the years and have actually gained weight on it. But that was because I didn't know that my metabolism doesn't react like everyone else's. I wonder how it would work now that I have that understanding and the medication? It isn't that hard once you get used to it, especially the milder forms.

Yeah, it's funny. I'm Anglican, and we fast all the time -- but not for dietary purposes, and usually not longer than 24 hours. I don't think it helps me lose weight, that's for sure.

IF sounds a lot like the "kargador plan." Basically, you follow the exercise and dietary habits of a poor manual laborer on the docks of Manila - eat mostly fish and veggies proteins once a day and work like a horse on it.

Yanked from a thread where the conversation was a derail, and the attitude among at least two posters here at GWJ is pretty confusing, imo. Maybe some more explaination is in order. Here's the two comments I found offensive worthy of discussion:

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
Seth wrote:
MilkmanDanimal wrote:

F*ck that woman and everything she stands for. Offensive, repulsive, disgusting, sh*t-eating, stupid cow. That's one of the singly most horrific speeches I've ever seen somebody give.

I agree she's a bigot and a nasty, nasty person, but don't take the cheap shot of a fat joke. We have a whole thread about that.

Say what? "Cow" is not necessarily a fat joke, it's also used in the "easily cowed" sense in that she's a moron.

But hey, way to focus on the really important stuff here.

Dysplastic wrote:

I've seen and heard skinny women like Ann Coulter referred to as a "cow" as well. I see it more as a general insult more than a comment on their weight. That being said, I've never heard a man referred to as a "cow", so perhaps that's not really any better.

The fact is that cow is a pretty damn universal insult for heavy people, often but not exclusively females. When Coulter is called a stupid cow it's because it's more insulting than calling her a stupid waif.

What I see here is a lot of rationalizing. Doubling down on the cow insult by saying "I mean she was easy to pursuade." My point is that language is often used lazily and insults can be mean a plethora of things.

btw I almost stuck this in the privilege thread because I am not aware of a more obvious recent example of male privilege than this one.

edited at 12:13 pm to soften the tone. Sorry - still pretty riled up at this.

Seth wrote:

Yanked from a thread where the conversation was a derail, and the attitude among at least two posters here at GWJ is pretty confusing, imo. Maybe some more explaination is in order. Here's the two comments I found offensive worthy of discussion:

MilkmanDanimal wrote:
Seth wrote:
MilkmanDanimal wrote:

F*ck that woman and everything she stands for. Offensive, repulsive, disgusting, sh*t-eating, stupid cow. That's one of the singly most horrific speeches I've ever seen somebody give.

I agree she's a bigot and a nasty, nasty person, but don't take the cheap shot of a fat joke. We have a whole thread about that.

Say what? "Cow" is not necessarily a fat joke, it's also used in the "easily cowed" sense in that she's a moron.

But hey, way to focus on the really important stuff here.

Dysplastic wrote:

I've seen and heard skinny women like Ann Coulter referred to as a "cow" as well. I see it more as a general insult more than a comment on their weight. That being said, I've never heard a man referred to as a "cow", so perhaps that's not really any better.

The fact is that cow is a pretty damn universal insult for heavy people, often but not exclusively females. When Coulter is called a stupid cow it's because it's more insulting than calling her a stupid waif.

What I see here is a lot of rationalizing. Doubling down on the cow insult by saying "I mean she was easy to pursuade." My point is that language is often used lazily and insults can be mean a plethora of things.

btw I almost stuck this in the privilege thread because I am not aware of a more obvious recent example of male privilege than this one.

edited at 12:13 pm to soften the tone. Sorry - still pretty riled up at this.

Not sure if this is relevant given that neither of you are Brits, but if I were to use 'cow' as an insult, it would be nothing to do with the weight of the insulted woman, and everything to do with her being a nasty person.

Yeah, that matters a lot. In contrast, I believe that in some places outside the U.S., "bitch" is considered more objectionable than it is here. I believe Brits use "cow" like Yanks use "bitch".

In both cases, I'd say that the key shift is that the insult has ceased to really be about the comparison to the animal. It's taken on an independent meaning. But that shift isn't global—and in a place where the shift hasn't taken place, the direct comparison to an animal is more shocking.

When an American hears "what a bitch!", the implication is that the person is "bitchy"... mean, catty, and likes to carp a lot. (Go go, animal word trifecta!) When an American hears "what a cow!", the implication is that the person is cow-like—probably that they stand around all day chewing their cud.

So I have a quandary that needs addressing. My fiancee and I have both bulked up a bit since the new year. Combination of stress, relationship, and no small dose of depression on both accounts. We both added 20 or so pounds.

From my end, I cannot really notice much change to her. More to the point, she still looks damn sexy to me.

My issue is that I know after a month or so of solid exercise and better diet, we will both be back to normal. But she has really beat herself up about "letting herself get fat." It gets even better during her time of the month. Earlier this week she confided in me she has developed a habit to stress/binge eat in stressful times. This did not spell more weight 5-10 years ago because she 1 was not in her 30's and 2 had more active jobs than her desk job now.

I feel a bit like a sh*t heel when I say things like I did last night. She got seconds at dinner, and I asked if she was already full? She seemed ready to not go work out, and I often have to talk her into it. Once she is at the gym or swimming, she is fine, but out the door can be a problem especially if she has too much dinner. I could use some reinforcement that I am not mistreating the love of my life here. But there are other concerns of comfort and health that I have. She and I both respond similarly when we are overweight-we get bad heartburn, we snore, we have trouble comfortably sleeping. And I know she wants the weight off.

Am I doing the right thing?

KingGorilla wrote:

< snip >

Am I doing the right thing?

Honestly, without knowing your fiancee well, her wants, and how she responds, I don't know that any of us are really equipped to answer that question.

But i wouldn't be me if I let a little thing like that stop me from chiming in with an opinion.

I'm in a not-too-dissimilar a boat. At the end of 2010, the wife and I decided to get our asses in gear. We both lost a bunch of weight (she lost 50lbs, I lost 30). However, she's fallen off the wagon in the last 6 months. She's put a little bit of that back on. She complains about it, but takes no steps to do anything about it. We've just cancelled her gym membership because she simply wasn't going, even when she was unemployed and had all the time in the world to do something about it.

What am I driving at here? Back when we started out in 2010, we had a long, frank discussion about how we wanted to go about it, and the conclusion we came to was that we each needed to take ownership of our own re-healthification process. The other person's job was provide zero negativity and zero nagging. Because therein lies the path to resentment, the nagger resents having to nag and feeling like a douchebag for it, and the naggee resents being nagged, right? It's not productive for either person.

So, my advice to you is next she's beating herself up about it to you, ask her if there's some way you can help her, whether that's taking more of the responsibility for deciding what you guys eat for meals (and thereby taking the decision to eat poorly out of her hands), or setting up scheduled workout dates (it's harder to bail on a workout if you've got a partner), or saying nothing about it whatsoever. The key thing is to be a support structure for her process, not a taskmaster imposing your own process upon her.

Also can't hurt to emphasize the parts you mention where you think she's hot as all get-out, and that your concerns are more about the long-term health of the person you want to grow old with than they are about what size jeans she's wearing.

To repeat from the other thread, "cow" refers to "fat" about as much as "bastard" refers to "illegitimate male child". I'm particularly fond of "cow" as a catch-all insult for a woman whose intelligence I am mocking, and it's not weight-related at all.

"Just plain f*cking stupid". That's it.

KingGorilla wrote:

Am I doing the right thing?

I liked Jonman's entire post in response to you, so just pretend I wrote the same thing over again. But the key thing is that none of us is really in a position to give an informed answer to this question of yours. I think the best thing would be to talk the concerns and observations out with her when she's not in one of her difficult times with the whole issue.

Scarlett Johannson sums up an industry's worth of sexism in one question (& a devastating side-eye) http://is.gd/Wbqflo

Edwin wrote:

Scarlett Johannson sums up an industry's worth of sexism in one question (& a devastating side-eye) http://is.gd/Wbqflo

Yeah that was good.

KingGorilla:

I think it's important to be in the right mindset to get the right action done, and you are in the best position to tell whether or not you're crossing the line. It depends on the relationship and the people. My wife knows that I love her so much that she owns me, so she doesn't interpret anything I say in a negative light. Well, no, sometimes she does that and bitches at me about it, but we both know that it's not a big deal. I mean well, but say things wrong; and she just has a bad day from time to time and needs a target.

I find that the best way to motivate people to take care of themselves is to do it yourself and show that you're having a blast doing it. Nothing discourages more than seeing you perceive exercise and being fit (as opposed to "getting" or "staying fit") as a chore and burden.

One of the best benefits of exercise and being healthy is that I nearly always feel like a million bucks. How I look isn't that important to me; how I feel about my looks often fluctuates with mood. It's being in a good mood that I love. People see that, and they respond.

Getting into an activity you like is critical. I love cycling, and I make time for it. Swimming, too. I often feel like a complete phony, 'cause I set aside time for fun-happy-time and I get credit for it like it was a chore! And it improves my body, and my mind. Super, duper extra win! You have to find some way to make an activity so incredibly fun for you that coming back from it, you're all smiles and cheer; this will inspire others to do the same thing.

Here are some things that might help you out:

1. Be appreciative of her, especially when she needs it. It's not enough that you think she's sexy even when she doesn't. You have to express that attraction constantly in a way that she cannot ignore or reason away. You must communicate your desire for her. This will become easier to do in public when you've generated more double entendres that only you two can understand.

2. Suggest jointly finding another activity to do for releasing stress; massage each other, for instance. Or take up boxing, wrestling or whatever. Stress is a manifestation of anxiety - an undirected fight or flight response that, due to its undirected nature, can linger and fester. Logically, the best way to manage it is to release it through some kind of fight or flight response.

3. Most important! You must believe, and convince her, that body weight is not simply a matter of calories or food or exercise. You look who you are. Lifestyle choices we make are reflected in our bodies. If you want to change your body, you must look to change the way you live, not simply engage a "program" or do exercise chores. It's a holistic approach.

Changing your lifestyle to a way of life you don't like will not last, especially if it involves a lot of activities you find boring or foods you find unpleasant or in unsatisfying amounts. You will always be looking to change back to the comfortable one. To make a lasting change, you have to find a lifestyle that suits you better than the one you have now, but also manages to include activity and food in the balance you're targeting.

Last, but not the least, please know that both you and your fiancee are awesome, great, attractive people. You are sexy, just the way you are. There is no need to lose weight to become sexier. That is not possible; for either of you. You can't become sexier because you are already super-attractive.