Last week I was browsing the “Top 100” list of books on Amazon and noticed that the majority of them were associated with dieting, weight loss, and fitness. It then occurred to me that it was January, and most people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in better shape. I too have been a participant of the endless weight loss cycle for many years. As I reflect on this I realize that for the majority of those years my weight loss goals were mostly for someone else’s expectations of what I should look like, and very rarely for my own.
Throughout history society has always had expectations of what a woman should look like. In the 1800’s women were required to be fully covered during the day, but display bare shoulders and décolletage in the evening. They were required to wear extremely tight corsets made with whale bone stays to give the image of a large bust, tiny waist, and curvy hips. However the internal damage caused by corsets speaks for itself.
The 1920’s woman was attractive in shapeless dresses. Large busts were looked down upon and many women went under the knife to reduce their breast size.
In the post war era of the 1940’s and 50’s we see a return of the curve. The silver screen was filled with women like Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, and Elizabeth Taylor who unabashedly flaunted their curves, and we continue to view them as feminine icons to this day.
The late 1960’s and 70’s brought shorter skirts, straighter hair, straighter bodies, and the return of shapeless clothing.
No matter what era or decade we look at, women have been slaves to fashion and cultural expectations. One day we are too fat, the next we are too thin. Last week we were too tan, next week we will be too pale. Too short, too tall, curly hair, straight hair…change your nose, change your lips, and change your bust size! When will women learn to be who they were born to be and flaunt their own unique image with pride?
I’m not saying that I shouldn't continue to strive to be healthy, but I am no longer going to change my body image to please other people. I can wear my hair and makeup however I like to, and I will not wear crew neck shirts and turtle necks to appease someone else’s expectations of modesty. Whether I am a size 12 or a size 16, I can rock my plus size curves and be comfortable with myself. I am beautiful and so are you!
How do you feel about society’s expectations of women?