The size debate: standards of beauty

Also, art usually involves some form of distortion of physical representation to provoke an emotional or visceral reaction from the viewer, so you can't treat them as reflections of reality.

(this is what I learned from Calvin and Hobbes, but if you can't trust Calvin, snow artist without equal, who else can you trust?)

I am sure many gwjers whom have taken art training or a few semesters of figure drawing can back me up when I say that hip-waist ratio and bmi index are ridiculously obtuse when it comes to quantifying "beauty" or physical attractiveness.

Now I am not trying to say that I or other artists have a lock on what defines physical health or attractiveness in women. It is actually quite the opposite. When you train your eye so specifically, you realize that even a narrowly defined percentage for acceptible hip-waist ratio has near limitless combinations. I would say that the only definition more broad would be to say that they are beautiful because they are women. (which is much more a truism than hip-waist ratio) There are probably just as many possible combinations of hip-waist ratio in the pleasing range as there are outside of it.

I mean seriously does a half inch here or there make you not healthy or attractive?

And this doesn't even take into account age. Would a 12 year old that fit the hip-waist ratio be beautiful or healthy? Would a 70 year old woman in the hip-waist ratio be beautiful or healthy? The correct answer is yes, and no for both because beauty and healthy themselves aren't so narrowly defined.

To many men, there is a difference between cute, adorable, pretty, slammin, hot, mega hot (and the other one). This covers most of the spectrum in the hip-waist ratio and bmi index.

I absolutely agree. The reason I mentioned the WHR studies is because it effectively debunks the idea that BMI is significant. The wiki page (potentially NSFW for a few bikini type photos) has a lot more information however, and discusses cultural and age differences in the results.

complexmath wrote:
I absolutely agree. The reason I mentioned the WHR studies is because it effectively debunks the idea that BMI is significant. The wiki page (potentially NSFW for a few bikini type photos) has a lot more information however, and discusses cultural and age differences in the results.

Check the sources on that wiki page:

wiki page reference 10 wrote:
However, there was a significant interaction between BMI and WHR; within each underweight, normal and overweight category, figures with low WHR were judged as more attractive than figures with high WHR, but across body weight categories, the normal weight figure with low WHR (0.7) had the highest attractiveness rat-ing. Underweight figures with similar WHRs were not judged to be as attractive as normal weight figures with low WHR, and overweight figures, in spite of low WHRs were judged to be less attractive, less healthy and older.

Thus, the relationship between WHR and attractive-ness was most clearly evident with figures of normal body weight. The impact of WHR on attractiveness judgments is obscured by body weight deviation from the average weight, regardless of whether the weight is extremely low (underweight) or high (overweight). Many researchers have erroneously assumed that WHR and attractiveness hypotheses do not assign any role to BMI, although I had clearly stated the interaction between body weight and WHR in 1993, Viz, “Neither body weight nor WHR alone can explain attractiveness. To be attractive, women must have a low WHR and deviate little from normal weight ” [14].

Also, two links.

Just an FYI. My post wasn't meant as an attack on any person. It was more of a critique on those systems or the "science" behind clarifying what is healthy and/or beautiful.

And again while there is something to be said in regards to another theory, symmetry being more attractive, once you look past the surface, that all goes out the window too. You know things are messed up when we are drawn to symmetry yet most of our insides are not equally balanced, even the most seemingly symmetrical people are off by centimeters all over, and the most popular and historical pose for modeling on the catwalk, red carpet, or granite lounge is contrapposto. So we may want symmetry but we pose in an askew manner in order to make them more natural/relaxed/realistic/alive.

Models on a catwalk rarely look natural, relaxed, realistic or alive, to me.

garion333 wrote:
Models on a catwalk rarely look natural, relaxed. realistic or alive, to me. ;)

As a lone wolf hunter, I tend to pounce on the thin, sickly, lethargic members of the herd.

garion333 wrote:
Models on a catwalk rarely look natural, relaxed, realistic or alive, to me. ;)

I just imagined GLaDOS saying that.

CheezePavilion wrote:
Check the sources on that wiki page

Fair enough. Though at least normal BMI was perceived as more attractive than low BMI, so model thin still shouldn't be a goal for anyone.

complexmath wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
Check the sources on that wiki page

Fair enough. Though at least normal BMI was perceived as more attractive than low BMI, so model thin still shouldn't be a goal for anyone.

Very true, which I think leads into something that the debate has been circling around, which is it's not really a debate about beauty, it's a debate about status. I don't know if it's so much about women feeling the need to be attractive to men as it is about women needing to feel flawless and immune to criticism by both men AND women.

'model thin' may be less attractive, but it's also more powerful in some sense. The criticism "she's too thin" has more in common with the criticism "he's too rich" than it does with the criticism "that person is too fat."

while I haven't forgotten about my promise to respond to momgamer, complexmath your theory that "model thin" shouldnt be a goal for anyone is what Paleocon and I have been saying for several pages. in fact *not even models or actresses* aspire to be underweight. Again, heroic chich is 20 years old, actresses like 1990s de rossi are old hat, and most every runway modeling company has banned size 0 and 00 models.

Cheezepavillion i think you're on the right track but I hesitate to use the word status. I still think it's tangled up in beauty but you're right in that beauty isn't nuanced enough for what you're describing. I also think this is tied to the phenomenon that women are much more judgmental concerning women's bodies than men are concerning women's bodies.

CheezePavilion wrote:
complexmath wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
Check the sources on that wiki page

Fair enough. Though at least normal BMI was perceived as more attractive than low BMI, so model thin still shouldn't be a goal for anyone.

Very true, which I think leads into something that the debate has been circling around, which is it's not really a debate about beauty, it's a debate about status. I don't know if it's so much about women feeling the need to be attractive to men as it is about women needing to feel flawless and immune to criticism by both men AND women.

'model thin' may be less attractive, but it's also more powerful in some sense. The criticism "she's too thin" has more in common with the criticism "he's too rich" than it does with the criticism "that person is too fat."

*ding ding ding* We have a winner!

You will receive a year's supply of Gatorade. It staves off the heart palps.


'model thin' may be less attractive, but it's also more powerful in some sense. The criticism "she's too thin" has more in common with the criticism "he's too rich" than it does with the criticism "that person is too fat."

That's context sensitive, though. In your current culture, it is. Where I am, it's not. "You're too thin," is easily coincident with "You're too poor," and being poor has all manner of unsavory connotations in a society stratified by means of financial and political power.

That is to say, when some of us (me included) say that a woman is too thin, it carries virtually no positive correlation, even with me knowing that she's, in fact, a rich person. That just suggests that she's too stupid to eat well.

Seth wrote:
I also think this is tied to the phenomenon that women are much more judgmental concerning women's bodies than men are concerning women's bodies.

Also this.

Edit: "Shouldn't be a goal" is different from "isn't"... also, if you're basing that on BMI/hip ratio studies, that's basically saying that the standard for female attractiveness is, as usual, what men find attractive. In general women find themselves more attractive at a lower weight than men do (why that is the case is an exciting debate also).

More edit: in North America, anyway.

LarryC wrote:

'model thin' may be less attractive, but it's also more powerful in some sense. The criticism "she's too thin" has more in common with the criticism "he's too rich" than it does with the criticism "that person is too fat."

That's context sensitive, though. In your current culture, it is. Where I am, it's not. "You're too thin," is easily coincident with "You're too poor," and being poor has all manner of unsavory connotations in a society stratified by means of financial and political power.

That is to say, when some of us (me included) say that a woman is too thin, it carries virtually no positive correlation, even with me knowing that she's, in fact, a rich person. That just suggests that she's too stupid to eat well.

Yeah, it's backward here because calories are easy to come by, so being thin can be a statement that you have self-control, that you prize aesthetics and discipline over being a slave to your base impulses. Feeds into the madonna side of the madonna/whore thing.

clover wrote:
Seth wrote:
I also think this is tied to the phenomenon that women are much more judgmental concerning women's bodies than men are concerning women's bodies.

Also this.

Edit: "Shouldn't be a goal" is different from "isn't"... also, if you're basing that on BMI/hip ratio studies, that's basically saying that the standard for female attractiveness is, as usual, what men find attractive. In general women find themselves more attractive at a lower weight than men do (why that is the case is an exciting debate also).

More edit: in North America, anyway.

I do tend to base my definition of underweight loosely on BMI numbers; i would be hard pressed to be convinced a bmi of, say, 16, is healthy under any circumstances, but I'll accept the criticism that BMI is flawed at best. (I don't use the scale for my definition of overweight, though, but I'll flesh that out later)

And you're right, of course; cue the discussion I had hoped to start about pro ana that got lost somewhere on the last page. It's a very real and persistent problem, I just hesitate to blame media - just like I hesitate to blame media for alcoholism.

Points, taken, though, clover. I appreciate the insights.

clover wrote:
Yeah, it's backward here because calories are easy to come by, so being thin can be a statement that you have self-control, that you prize aesthetics and discipline over being a slave to your base impulses.

Yes. We admire people who can do things that are hard. It's not necessarily fair, because individual brain impulses and compulsions are not uniform across individuals and some people are able to do things easily that other people find impossibly difficult.

Seth wrote:
I do tend to base my definition of underweight loosely on BMI numbers; i would be hard pressed to be convinced a bmi of, say, 16, is healthy under any circumstances, but I'll accept the criticism that BMI is flawed at best.

BMI is just a cheap and easy screening tool. There are people who have bodies that don't fit well within the system, which is why there should be some ability to reference the percentage of body fat directly if someone questions where they land on the scale.

Pretty sure everyone in this thread knows that, Funkenpants, including me. that doesnt make it a bad tool for general "side of the barn" discussions, though.

clover wrote:
LarryC wrote:

'model thin' may be less attractive, but it's also more powerful in some sense. The criticism "she's too thin" has more in common with the criticism "he's too rich" than it does with the criticism "that person is too fat."

That's context sensitive, though. In your current culture, it is. Where I am, it's not. "You're too thin," is easily coincident with "You're too poor," and being poor has all manner of unsavory connotations in a society stratified by means of financial and political power.

That is to say, when some of us (me included) say that a woman is too thin, it carries virtually no positive correlation, even with me knowing that she's, in fact, a rich person. That just suggests that she's too stupid to eat well.

Yeah, it's backward here because calories are easy to come by, so being thin can be a statement that you have self-control, that you prize aesthetics and discipline over being a slave to your base impulses. Feeds into the madonna side of the madonna/whore thing.

Actually it's backwards here for a lot of reasons and a lot more complicated than what Larry is saying. Given the poor nutritional value of cheap foods and the higher cost of healthy food it's more of a sign of wealth to be skinny than a sign of poverty. It's not just as simple as "they don't eat well" or "they can't afford it."

SixteenBlue:

I think you're subconsciously equating skinny with healthy there. I can point it out because the two are not correlated in my language game, so it stands out for me.

Feminist Gatorade *and* a semantics argument in the same thread? directed at me? one post right next to the other one? Best Thread Ever.

And certainly it's culture-specific. Just a link on that topic in case, you know--anyone was having too good of a day and really feels the need to read more depressing things on the internet.

CheezePavilion wrote:
Feminist Gatorade *and* a semantics argument in the same thread? directed at me? one post right next to the other one? Best Thread Ever.

And certainly it's culture-specific. Just a link on that topic in case, you know--anyone was having too good of a day and really feels the need to read more depressing things on the internet.

I didn't mean that in a snarky way at all. You really did drill down to a core part of the issue.

Nevertheless, cookies for everyone!

IMAGE(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3317/3571777191_2b93e03be4.jpg)
IMAGE(http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_llxsisr6Jz1qccrklo1_500.jpg)

clover wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
Feminist Gatorade *and* a semantics argument in the same thread? directed at me? one post right next to the other one? Best Thread Ever.

And certainly it's culture-specific. Just a link on that topic in case, you know--anyone was having too good of a day and really feels the need to read more depressing things on the internet.

I didn't mean that in a snarky way at all. You really did drill down to a core part of the issue.

Nevertheless, cookies for everyone!

IMAGE(http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3317/3571777191_2b93e03be4.jpg)
IMAGE(http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_llxsisr6Jz1qccrklo1_500.jpg)

I'd eat those.

I'd wear the last one as a button. It's bound to make me look more trustworthy.

LouZiffer wrote:
I'd wear the last one as a button. It's bound to make me look more trustworthy.

Plus, it doubles as emergency rations.

Seth wrote:
cue the discussion I had hoped to start about pro ana that got lost somewhere on the last page. It's a very real and persistent problem, I just hesitate to blame media - just like I hesitate to blame media for alcoholism.

I don't think the media is the culprit either, really. It's just a mirror that reflects society back onto itself. We do have a culture here that tells women that thin is better, more virtuous, healthier, more attractive, etc. and therefore many, many women across the spectrum are preoccupied at some level with size and weight and dieting. You see that on the cover of every women's magazine (even the fitness ones), but part of the reason those articles always land on the cover is because they sell better.

And a small number of women just take that to its natural conclusion.

IMAGE(http://x69.xanga.com/194e153177d35277075993/z220752095.jpg)

clover wrote:
CheezePavilion wrote:
Feminist Gatorade *and* a semantics argument in the same thread? directed at me? one post right next to the other one? Best Thread Ever.

And certainly it's culture-specific. Just a link on that topic in case, you know--anyone was having too good of a day and really feels the need to read more depressing things on the internet.

I didn't mean that in a snarky way at all. You really did drill down to a core part of the issue.

Ya know, it just occurred to me that not everyone might be familiar with my backstory involving semantics, and I was coming back to change "Best Thread Ever" to something less ambiguous about me regarding both of those as Good Things! I was too late!

Aww, I looked for a Martha Stewart meme and came up dry.

I was always heartbroken that a friend of mine (my former high school sweetheart) never believed me when I told her she was not only not fat but could stand to put on some weight. Her menses just plain stopped coming (more than once, for months at a time) because her body fat was too low.

2011 Yoplait ad pulled from the air for being triggering to people with EDs.