“Plus” what, exactly?

ImageThe woman to the far right is Jennie Runk, pictured here in a Glamour spread circa 2009. The intarwebs have been a-buzz because she’s H&M’s new “plus size” swimwear model.

Let’s take another look. Here she is in H&M’s new swimwear shots:

ImageYes, apparently this size 12 woman is “plus-sized.” Excuse me? She looks HEALTHY. AND NORMAL. And pardon me, but I believe one finds size 12 in the “misses” (that is, the NOT plus-sized) section. Since when is this plus-sized? Certainly it’s not the size 0 we normally see, but should we really be calling this “plus”? Plus what? A normal amount of body fat and muscle?

As two women who are not size zeroes, we object. We object first because calling this woman anything other than normal is a gross misstatement. To imply that this woman is somehow heavier than she should be is nonsense. She looks beautiful as-is. I don’t just say this because when I look at most retailers’ models, I want to feed them giant Katz deli sandwiches by the fistful, but because this is the same kind of nonsensical distortion we get with the size zero model. Girls who are Ms. Runk’s size and one higher (14) are shopping in the section that advertises with size zeroes. Women who are size 16 and over are shopping for the clothes Ms. Runk is modeling. Isn’t it time we have just a bit of truth in advertising? If you’re going to sell “plus size” clothing, you need to use a plus size model. A model, that is, who wears size 16 or higher.

Additionally, there needs to be some parity across sizing. I give you the following anecdote: In December, I went looking for a New Year’s Eve dress. I headed to the predictable spots: Forever 21, H&M, etc. H&M was my first stop. My dress size, 95% of the time, is a 6 or 8. I do have a bit of trouble finding dresses that fit because I’ve got a lot of booty and not a lot of booby. But, I digress. I went looking for a black sequin number I saw on the website, and found they only had a size 4 left. I thought to myself, I might as well try this on. It’s realistically only one–maybe two–sizes below me. Maybe it will fit.

And what do you think happened?

Not only did this “dress” not fit over my ass, it hardly fit over my boobs! My tiny boobs! Most women who are my size or a bit smaller have bigger boobs than me! And, on top of that, the notion that this thing was a dress was a joke. Even if I had gotten it to begin fitting over my hips, it wouldn’t have made it much farther because there just wasn’t any more fabric! The damn thing was shirt for a 10 year old being passed off as a dress.

My call, therefore, is for parity in sizing as well as in advertising. I should be looking at models smack dab in the middle of the spectrum of “misses” (that’s a size six, by the way) and smack dab in the middle of “women’s.” And I should be able to reasonably enter a store and try on one or two sizes of clothing and find items that are at least close to fitting. I shouldn’t have to shop at store A as an 8 and then go over to store B and have to buy a 13/14. If we could actually get some real sense of what size we were and stick to it, and saw real humans modeling the clothes we’re buying, we’d significantly reduce the amount of body-hating that goes on.

I’ve Been Too Hard on “Skinny”

A while ago, I wrote a post about how amazing Beyonce’s thighs are, which remains indisputable.

However, what I also did in that post was talk about thin, skinny, little thighs as “unnatural” and less than ideal.  That’s not fair either.

I do think that glorifying unhealthy weight – on either end of the spectrum – is dangerous.  It is dangerous to glorify being so thin that for most people to achieve it, they would have to starve themselves.

Thin thighs are not “unacceptable,” “horrible,” nor are they somehow inherently “bad.”  It is not bad to be a thin person.  No one is a villain simply having thin thighs.

What is bad and scary, then?

It is bad and scary to push a body to extremes.  It is bad to glorify thinness above all else.  It is bad to glorify unhealthy habits that push people into unhealthy weights.  Just as a person can be too fat, a person can be too thin.  Both are bad.  The thing, not a lot of people are striving to be fat.  A lot of people are spending their days and nights obsessing over being thin at any price.  A lot of people have blogs and tumblrs devoted to “thinspo” with all kinds of ways to get skinny.  There are too many little girls and women out there who hurt themselves to achieve a level of thin that is not healthy for them.

That said, making thin women the villain is wrong.

Thin women just so happen to be thin.  Many people want to be thin, and that’s okay.  But wanting to be thin, or wanting to have Beyonce’s thighs, at any cost… that’s scary.

Also, Beyonce is amazing.

Bodies should be allowed to be as they are.  When society pressures us to go against our bodies, society is wrong.  Love your thighs.  Even if they chaff and wiggle.  Even if they’ve never touched.

Christina Aguilera as a Hot, Scary, Brightly-Colored Serial Killer in “Your Body” (and she’s still not fat)

I know, I know… I write too many blog posts about Christina Aguilera.  I’m sorry, but I absolutely idolized her when I was a little girl.  I would sit in my room and stare at my stereo while I tried to figure out if I could ever get that good at singing.  Answer: nope.  I just want other people to realize that she’s pretty much the most talented singer to ever exist, and that she’s really gorgeous and not at all fat.  Once again, NOT FAT.  I also really want to like her.  I want her to be more likable.  I want to fall back in love with my idol.

Ugh.  Okay, now that I’ve done that part, let’s get on with the post.

“Your Body” is Christina Aguilera’s latest release.  It’ fun and cool.  It’s crazy and vulgar.  It’s probably just what her career needed.  Our popular culture machine is all about vulgar these days.  I mean, have you heard that damn song about “whistling” (goes something like: “Can you blow my whistle?  …  Just put your lips together and come real close…”)?  It’s terrible and it’s obviously about blow jobs.  We get it, Flo Rida, you like blow jobs.

Pop music these days is all about sex and drinking and drunk sex…  It’s not a new trend, but the crazy bright colors, upsetting patterns, and overly intense cartoon themes are all new to me.  I hate them.  That said, this video is kind of awesome.  I’m surprised I think that, but I do.  It’s like a candy-porn snuff film.

Even though I find the whole video questionable, I feel like it’s a not-sad comeback for her.  She looks sexy in a scary, trashy, dirty (maybe dirrrrty), scented-marker kind of way.  I should hate this video, but I don’t.

She’s a Crayola serial killer out to get men who’ve done her no wrong.  She’s just randomly killing.  I think it actually might be a satire of current culture’s acceptance, encouragement, and of sleeping around.  It might actually be an intellectual argument.  This could be a real, live satire.

The song itself is about screwing random people.  As she says, “So, don’t even tell me your name.  All I need to know is: who’s place?  And let’s get walking…”  She doesn’t even want to know your name, she just wants to love your body.  The song is about random sex and how great/wonderful it is.  Basically, “All [she] want[s] to do is love your body.”

But, maybe…  Just maybe…  This video is kind of making fun of that.  Christina Aguilera has always made pretty average pop music with a way-above-average voice; maybe she knows that.  Maybe she knows that she’s better than all of this.  She should be singing amazing ballads and jazz and more stuff that sounds like, “Beautiful,” instead of “Dirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrty.”  I think that this video might know that.

Why?  Well, because instead of loving all these bodies of men, she’s killing them.  Then, there exploding with glitter and blue goo.  Maybe singing that you want to love someone’s body, and then visually showing that you actually want to kill them randomly and viciously, maybe that is a joke.  Maybe it’s an acknowledgement of the absurdity of today’s pop music.

Perhaps more interestingly, Ms. Aguilera sings, “Fuck your body…” in the explicit version of the song.  Maybe she really means that she wants to “fuck up” their bodies rather than “love them sweetly.”

Okay, it’s probably just a crazy video for a crazy song.  I just really want to believe in my idol, a former “Genie in a Bottle,” and a forever bottle-blond.  She’s probably just a dirrrrrty girl.

Oh, and here’s some bonus goo:

Thighs of Glory (Read: Beyonce’s Thighs)

(Amendment at end.)

Today, I learned that I have thighs of glory.  This does not mean my thighs are skinny, because they are not and they never will be.  Skinny thighs give me the creeps.  A “gentleman” walking about downtown Ann Arbor exclaimed upon seeing my pasty, glorious thighs, that they were, in fact, “Sweet and juicy.”  My first reaction, as always, was to get incredibly angry.  I generally get hypermasculine, start swearing, and calling people dudes when I am approached in this manner.  As you might imagine, I do not like being approached by random men who want to comment on my specific body parts and their potential “uses.”  Instead, I simply laughed at these strange and utterly creepy proclamations of my thigh’s awesomeness.

I thought to myself, “Here I am, a slightly-less-fat-than-average person with well-developed leg muscles (mostly the calves), pasty skin, a partial sunburn on my forehead, jiggly thighs, and fairly low self-esteem.  Yet, this possibly drunk man has enjoyed the show (by show, I mean that I walked by in longer-than-apparently-average shorts).  Maybe, I will just laugh at this and be thankful that someone out there still understands that thighs are meant to be thick, strong, and fleshy.  Thighs should look like thighs.”

I would much rather have Beyonce’s thighs of glory (however pastier, less toned, and altogether less glorious), than skinny thighs (ahem, LeAnn Rhimes, Victoria Beckham, Kiera Knightly, almost every model, and Miley Cyrus).  I would rather look like Serena Williams than a 12-year-old.  Skinny thighs are for children.  Thick thighs are for women.

Beyonce looks amazing. Her thighs are made of glory, sunshine, dance skills, and squats.

Seriously, how great does Beyonce look?  This lady helped bring back the popularity of thicker thighs, and I am thankful.  The ladies who write this blog are fans of curves.  Curves are normal.  Beyonce is clearly above average in all ways, but I think we need to remember the glory of “sweet and juicy thighs.”

This picture is so intimidating and amazing. Serena Williams could jump over a skyscraper with those legs. She could crush anything. They are glorious.

Serena Williams could destroy us all with her thighs.  I feel pretty good about that.  She is strong and sexy; her presence in pop culture is good for women with curves.

I know that this post may seem a bit strange.  *After all, I did get inspiration from a drunken cat call.*  However, it is somewhat comforting that people are appreciating pale, fleshy thighs.  That’s all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Amendment:

After reading some comments, I realize that this post needs clarification.  Thin thighs are not “unacceptable,” “horrible,” nor are they somehow inherently “bad.”  It is not bad to be a thin person.  No one is a villain simply having thin thighs.

What is bad and scary, then?

It is bad and scary to push a body to extremes.  It is bad to glorify thinness above all else.  It is bad to glorify unhealthy habits that push people into unhealthy weights.  Just as a person can be too fat, a person can be too thin.  Both are bad.  The thing, not a lot of people are striving to be fat.  A lot of people are spending their days and nights obsessing over being thin at any price.  A lot of people have blogs and tumblrs devoted to “thinspo” with all kinds of ways to get skinny.  There are too many little girls and women out there who hurt themselves to achieve a level of thin that is not healthy for them.

That said, making thin women the villain is wrong.

Thin women just so happen to be thin.  Many people want to be thin, and that’s okay.  But wanting to be thin, or wanting to have Beyonce’s thighs, at any cost… that’s scary.

Also, Beyonce is amazing.

10 Reasons I Like Winter Dating Better

  1. I’m almost never sweaty without choosing to be sweaty in the winter. When I work out, I sweat.  That much is fine with me.  In the summer, I sweat without warning.  In the winter, I don’t sweat unless I choose to sweat.  This means that the person I’m dating doesn’t have to see me sweating without reason.
  2. I get to wear layers, which means I get to hide things.  Goodbye big sweaters!  Hello sundresses!  Oh god!  So much skin!  So much brutal honesty about my body!  I want to hide under knits!
  3. My skin is rosy and prettier when it’s cold. When it’s hot, I’m sunburned and oily.  No thanks.  I’d rather be crisp.
  4. Snowball fights are amazing.
  5. Cuddling is far more appealing when it’s not 80 Fahrenheit.  Who wants to share back sweat?  How about in-between-boobies sweat?  Let’s stick to each other!
  6. There are no bikinis.  Screw you, bikini season!
  7. There are no sunburns in the winter-time.  There are so many sunburns in the summer-time.  It’s hard to be sexy with a sunburn…
  8. Getting drunk is not as gross in the winter.  In the summer, you’re dewy and sweaty; beer becomes an enemy.  Winter drinking gives you an alcohol-blanket that will be your friend all night.
  9. All the skinny chicks look like penguins in the summer, but me, I look hearty and amazing.  In the summer, I look frizzy and swollen compared to the many stick-figures walking about dressed in napkins.  No hate, they look great.
  10. No mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes are not sexy.

This is me - all summer long.

Stop Comparing Me to Fruit

I’m sure by now, most women have heard of different classifications for body shapes. There’s the “hourglass” (think Marilyn Monroe and every pin up girl ever) and the “rectangle” (as in you don’t have a natural waist) and sometimes even varieties of triangle (standard and inverse, apparently). But all of this is weird. No one actually looks like a triangle or a rectangle. Hourglass, sure, I can see that. Then there’s the stupid food comparisons: apple, pear, and (this one was new to me) banana. I’m sorry but I definitely don’t look like a piece of fruit. This comparison is just weird and nonsensical.

In this case, the fruit doesn't even fit. And that does NOT look like a banana, damnit.

I’m sorry, but none of these shapes make any sense to my brain. I just don’t get it. Supposedly, because I’m small-chested and big-bootied (is that even a term?) I’m a “pear” shape. But I’m also supposed to have tiny, wimpy shoulders (which I don’t) and thick ankles (also don’t). I get the impetus for classifying body shapes–supposedly helping women dress to flatter their most “alluring” features–but it really needs to be rethought. On top of only being able to represent these so-called universal shapes that are supposed to fit all women on the planet in odd drawings without faces or  with creepy identical faces, when someone does try to represent these shapes in the real world, you wind up with ridiculously inaccurate representations. See, for example, figure three. All of these women, despite the fact that they’ve been classified as “different” shapes, all look the same to me. They all have chests of roughly the same size, they’re all fairly lean (though red bathing suit and black bathing suit have weirdly thin thighs that don’t touch), and they all have pretty defined waists. I’m also increasingly convinced that “inv” triangle and triangle are the same woman with a bit of photoshopping on the booty/thighs area. Alternative to the “models come in all shapes and varieties of anorexic!!!” photo above is the “all women look like worn out slobs and stand with their arms awkwardly lifted and suffering from an inexplicable case of bowleggedness” picture below. Kudos to the creator for using real women, but at the same time, it seems somewhat unfair to try to accurately represent body types when you’re using women whose ages vary from the fairly young (maybe 24, “lollipop”) to the fairly old (65? “column”), and whose relative body weight fluctuates from the very skinny to the verging on obese. And forgive me for asking, but what idiot came up with these horrible names. There’s the classic food items, but wtf is a cello body shape? Lollipop? Goblet? And can we all agree that “brick” is a terrible term for a woman’s body shape? As if you could be any less interested in making a woman feel beautiful–“Yes, dear, I believe you’d be classified as a ‘brick.'” C’mon!

This is not to say that using women of a variety of ages and weights is a bad thing, but it’s hard to get a sense of your body shape if you’re at the right weight but don’t look like Ms. Lollipop, Pear, or Cornet. What about women of average weight who are hourglass-shaped? Or heavy women who are column or goblet shaped? This system just sucks, to be honest.

Additionally, in my evening internet cruising, I keep seeing advice for pear and apple shaped women that encourages them to “hide” their big hips or busts, respectively, while telling hourglass ladies to just let it all hang out cause they have nothing to hide. What kind of message does that send? The only worthwhile, sexy shape is an hourglass one, I assume. Everyone else better try to wear dark colors or use ruffles to give the impression they actually have the hourglass shape instead of just embracing the great assets they do have, regardless of whether their top and bottom halves match.

I say, eff that. Whether you look like Barbie or you don’t, stop dressing to cover up what some people like to call “problem areas” (i.e. anything that’s not an hourglass), and just start wearing what you think looks good and gives you confidence.

Christina Aguilera Is NOT Fat.

A lot of people have been freaking out for a while about how “fat” Christina Aguilera has become.  Really?  She’s maybe, at most, a size eight.  Isn’t the average woman a size 14 in this country?  Average Americans are generally pretty frickin’ fat; especially when compared to famous people.  Famous people are held to a truly ridiculous standard of beauty, and their bodies are scrutinized constantly.  This girl appeared on the scene as a teeny tiny teeny bopper.  Now, she’s in her thirties, and she’s a mom.  Maybe we should back off a little.

Christina Aguilera is not fat, y’all.  She’s not even close.  She just grew up, had a baby, gained some normal weight.  How dare a celebrity parade her smaller-than-average, yet not entirely waifish body around like it’s not the worst thing to ever happen?  How dare she wear leggings, jeggings, skirts, dresses, and various other Hollywood-approved items of clothing?  Okay, so she’s a little fuller.  She still has a fairly flat stomach, and she’s a curvy lady.  She has always had impressive ta-tas.  She has always dressed scantily.  She has always flaunted her curves.  Meaning that she does have curves.  Why is that so bad?  Plus, remember when she released the album, “Stripped,” and released songs like, “Dirrrty?”  DO YOU REMEMBER “DIRRTY?”

Anything is better than the weird fake tanned, stippery, midriff-obsessed, dredded, smeared, slutty, dirrrty Christina Aguilera of 2001.  Even if you think she looks “fat,” which is (I reiterate) absurd.  She looks fine.  She looks closer to normal than most celebrities, but that might be a good thing.  Don’t people like that about Kelly Clarkson?  Why can’t we like that about Christina Aguilera too?  Oh no!  Healthy, slightly normal women in Hollywood!  But what if they sound fat on the radio?  We just couldn’t have that.

Turns out, Christina doesn’t give a single eff about people being real a-holes about her weight.  She said, “I’ve been in this for a long time. I came out on the scene when I was 17 years old. ‘You can never be too much of anything. You can never be too prefect, too thin, too curvy, too voluptuous,’ this, that. I’ve been on all sides of the spectrum…  I’m very confident in my body. I think my video works over the years have spoken to that… I’ve been no stranger to being very comfortable in my own skin.”  She also said that her man likes her curves.  (Read more.)

Thus, I think we should leave it be.  If she wants to be a normal person and eat french fries sometimes, why can’t she just freaking do that?

UGH.

This Week in Unacceptable: Jennifer Hudson’s New Weight Watcher’s Commercial

This is real.

This is far too absurd to be taken seriously, yet Weight Watchers seems to want me to do so.  I refuse.

First, it is always a problem to sing a duet with yourself.  I don’t care how awesome it seems in your head, unless you’re Nick Pitera, and/or you’re singing with a sense of humor, it’s a bad choice.  A respectable, Oscar-winning actress and singer should not be doing this to move some diet system…  even if the system is respected.  Sure, Weight Watchers is good at what they do, but Jennifer Hudson should have higher standards.  The other commercials weren’t that bad.  They were still weight-loss commercials, but they were mostly fine.  Ultimately, remember to duet with others first.

Second, we didn’t need the side by side image of her pre-weight-loss and pre-stylist.  We already get that she looks great.  She wrote a book.  She made videos.  She’s already done it.  It’s weird.  Also, this just makes me sad about the pink outfit… Just look at the pink outfit.

Third, THIS SONG IS SO, SO, SO, SO, SO OVER THE TOP!  Losing weight is not a miracle.  You lost weight because you dieted and exercised.  It was not a miracle.  I’m glad that you believe in you (and me), but settle the hell down.