Recently I watched season seven of Project Runway which was released in 2010. One of the most fascinating things about watching shows from over ten years ago is paying attention to how much things have changed since then.
Several times throughout the season, the judges criticized outfits that make the model have a larger butt or hips than she actually does. Added to this, the female judges and guest judges were rail-thin–sometimes dangerously so (for ex. Jessica Alba who struggled with anorexia).
As I observed this pattern of the judges shaming curves time and time again, I was reminded how quickly standards of beauty change. Just ten years ago, the girl with zero curves was sought after in America. It was difficult if not impossible for most women to achieve this standard without self-harming. Now because of celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, the goal is to have wide hips, a round butt, zero waist, and voluptuous breasts, while somehow maintaining zero body fat. No woman can achieve this standard without injecting harmful things into their body, opting for plastic surgery, or investing in organ-crushing corsets.
I’m ashamed to say that I often play a game where, when I see a “beautiful” celebrity, I look up whether they’ve had work done to their bodies. 9/10 times they have. The ones that haven’t are on crazy fitness regimes and diets that the average person can’t keep up with.
The point here is not to shame those who achieve whatever beauty standards become popular, but to remind you that the goalposts are constantly changing. It would be impossible to achieve every body type that becomes vogue without jeopardizing your health.
The important thing is that you celebrate your body for what it is, and treat it with respect. It’s easy to think “If only I looked like them I’d be happy!” –we’ve all done it! But if you looked like them, you wouldn’t be you, and you’re beautiful exactly as you are.
It’s one thing if your body changes because you decide to eat healthier or pursue a workout regime that works with your lifestyle. It’s another to try to change your body because you’re chasing an idea of what’s beautiful that can’t (and perhaps shouldn’t) be caught. Besides, imagine how silly you’d feel if you sprung for plastic surgery, only to discover five years from now the work you had done is no longer considered beautiful, or that you’re uncomfortable with the type of attention you’re receiving. The same lack of confidence that drove you to make those changes will come barreling back.
Confidence doesn’t come from changing who you are overnight, and anyone who truly values you will value you regardless of appearance.