I thought that 2015 finally was the introductory year for the celebration of individualism.

The recent legislation approved in France banning excessively thin models are now calling for modelling agencies to present medical certificates and consistent BMI checkups on their models. The few commonly used parameters to determine if these girls adhere to specific height and weight requirements use an outdated system to calculate body fat percentage. Michelle Pfieffer’s Velma and her brutal point about how being “big and integration” will never be in. Carrie Ann Fisher’s recent tweet response to the latest Star Wars film and her own character as princess Leia provoked some food for thought about the theory of women just existing as sexy lamps. Zendaya’s call to arms about the ethics regarding photoshopping practices in Hollywood.

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All these incidents all highlight one thing. That beauty has been nothing but reduced to numbers and mathematical figures manipulated to represent only but a small fraction of body types. Don’t even get me started on skin color.

With the new law passed, isn’t that another restriction of an even tighter condition to be considered commercially viable?

And weren’t all these double standards and unwritten rules originally exploited by magazines and runways both on print and social media alike – still doing so?

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 See, here I thought that 2015 finally was the introductory year for the celebration of individualism. Where we embraced both men and women of different shapes, sizes and cultures, size zero or not.

I ask from my fellow social media comrades. Do you practice body love as much as you should with yourself and each other?

When I turned that question to myself, it felt as hypocritically cringing as it sounded with a touch of cheesiness. But the answer was no, not really.

Quoting Fisher’s rebuttal of the haters “Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re temporary happy/bi products of time/or DNA”. Everything around us revolves on the simple dynamics of demand and supply. Elementary economic theory blown way out of proportion both in the fashion and beauty industry. We are subconsciously told how or what we should ideally look like to be considered beautiful. And we all want to be thought as such. So what do we do? We buy into the system that becomes our reality. Eye makeup techniques to create bigger eyes, lip volumizers to plumper lips and bronzers to create the illusion of better sculpted cheekbones.

Even so, trends should all be summarised into one sentence. The customer is king.

That means that we as consumers do have the power to dictate what we want to see and how products and models are advertised to us.

In a perfect world that age-old question would have been answered with a no-duh answer. Yes of course we love all body types! We are only but human and that’s what makes us human! All men and women are beautiful no matter what. It’s the inside that counts. Beauty exists differently for everyone. Our cultures alone are standing testimonies of such.

Cry me a river but the level of blood, sweat and tears churned for the pursuit of social appeal has already got us covered. The mantra “beauty is only skin deep” is nothing but a fly on the wall in these waters. We need more than a little chit-chat.

I’ve had enough witnessing the same cycle repeat over and over again. A beautiful woman stepping up on a weighing machine and sighing in despair in regards to how much fat she must lose in order to consider herself beautiful. A teenager working out two hours everyday with the food consumption portion of a child in order to fit into size zero dresses. Jokes about having a white girl’s ass or how too muscular arms on a woman isn’t considered “feminine”. As much as I would like to retain that many good intentions from being critical of how I look, I still linger for a split second longer on an Instagram image of a girl with a trendy waist to ass ratio or sporting rock solid abs. I never did pay attention/ consider the consequences of clothing stores and if they continued discriminating practices against anything bigger than a size ten. And the straw that broke the camel’s back? This has unfortunately lead me to stay silent when a person’s size is used as an insult and social imbalance in many situations. *Facepalm.

Assuming that this way of thinking has been ingrained from a young age. A by product that transits from nature versus nurture with a little help possibly from consumer psychology. It is still a daunting thought to hold onto and believe – that all human beings are truly beautiful the way they are. Especially when almost every industry you encounter echoes with a resonance on an extremely limiting ideal that they expect everyone to follow.

But I guess #NewYearNewGoals? Can’t hurt to have a fresh start with a whole year looming ahead of us. You can’t change a traditional way of thinking for a whole industry overnight. But baby steps. Tell every one you see that you think that they are beautiful. Find their strengths instead of picking on their flaws. Learn to accept yourself for who you are. I’m starting a social media cleanse of Instagrammers teaching you a hundred and one ways you can exercise that flabby tummy off or minimise your thighs. Less experimenting with dinky salads with a low calorie count that the older body building guys at my gym back home would deem to be “rabbit food” not sufficient for human consumption and concentrate on a healthier me. Both inside and out. And maybe take up a drinkable green juice or two.

I hope for the future that when my sisters open up a magazine (if they do) or see a billboard ad down at Times Square in New York in the future, they can see themselves in those people portrayed in them. That those individuals are not something to aspire to look like, but rather, someone that they can relate to and confidently be.

– N

Images taken from:
Malcom T.Liepke (1953)
He Lihuai (1961)
Solly Smook Exhibition
Fin DAC Female stencil art series
Frida Kahlo self-portrait