By Bethanie Ryder
Every November one of America’s biggest and most-famous lingerie brands churns out the world’s most-notable fashion models down the catwalk. Sporting 21,000 Swarovski-crystal packed bras, a display of iridescent-feathered wings and unavoidably chiselled abs, the ‘angels’ somehow manage to capture the globes full attention annually, despite being branded as one of the most non-inclusive companies worldwide.
It was great to see the brand home in on tackling the implications of racial diversity – this year’s show congratulated its first Filipino model, alongside its regular cast of Hispanic, Black and Asian women. But was this really even a sincere projection of diversity at all? Where were the transgender girls, the plus-sized girls, the girls living with disabilities? There’s definitely a long way to go if the brand is aiming for that golden title of intersectionality.
Despite this, 5 days after the yearly celebration of all things glamour and unattainable female standards took place, Kendall Jenner shared an image of herself on the catwalk captioned “I’ve had so much pasta since this day,” proving once again that social media has unfortunately become a damaging network, with its design instilling distorted perceptions of once culturally-accepted activities into its audience. Sorry Kendall, but pasta is not the issue here – unachievable and unrealistic beauty ideals are. Promoting this notion of starving the body of vital nutrients in order to look ‘skinny’ for an event, to then proceed to humourize the act of binging afterwards is unhealthy, inappropriate and definitely not cool.
Carbohydrates are not, and never have been, one of the major causes of weight gain. Broken down, weight gain is simply due to the fact that more calories are consumed than expended over a long period of time; not a result of eating a staple food which exists in most societies’ diets. Unfortunately, this demonization of certain food groups is considered a patriarchal technique used to create fear and anxiety in individuals who are suffering with low body confidence and a disordered relationship with food. Think of how much time most of us spend worrying about what we ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ eat on a daily basis – then think of what you could have spent that time doing: setting goals, achieving goals, meeting new people, making memories with friends…
Diet Culture is a process which stops many from reaching their full potential; a time-consuming scheme which makes us care more about slimming waistlines and sharper jawlines, and less about global epidemics, potential career opportunities and how we can assist in improving our weakening planet. It’s unfortunate that these cultural ideals are imprinted in us from a young age, and reinforced throughout all our major stepping-stones in life. Isn’t it about time we were taught to adopt happy and healthy lifestyles, as opposed to investing our money in the latest fad diet products?
As the process of ‘dieting’ is regularly perceived as a predominantly female-focused agenda, is it too scandalous to label Diet Culture as a misogynistic mechanism used to keep women in the social sphere of lower pay and generalised stereotypes? It’s definitely a topic open to further discussion. For most females, it’s likely that they have received one of the following compliments throughout their lives – “You’re looking so skinny!”, “Have you lost weight?”, “Look how flat your stomach is!” Why are we not congratulating each other’s career success, personal attributes or exciting life achievements instead?
As perfectly captured within Megan Crabbe’s ‘Body Positive Power’ – “In other words, the extreme thinness that became the ideal body type at that time isn’t accidental, it’s an effective method of keeping women hungry, preoccupied, and without enough energy to fight for real equality. A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience.”
So next year when we sit down to watch a group of hand-picked females cavort down the runway in overpriced underwear, let’s all eat our pasta and enjoy it.