With spring (hopefully) just around the corner, the perfect “beach body” will soon be on many young women’s minds. I already see plans on social media to eat as little as possible or work out to extremes to reach that “ideal size,” and there’s still snow on the ground.
That standard women reach for is undoubtedly defined by the media. The average height of a Victoria Secret model is 5 feet 6 inches tall, according to a Cosmopolitan article titled “16 Surprising Things you Didn’t Know About the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.” Answers for their weights ranged between 105 and 120 pounds.
To compare, the average height for women 20 years old and over is around 5’3″ according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The average weight is 166 pounds.
This isn’t the standard that women need to be held to. But why is there a standard at all? Being healthy, happy and yourself is much more important than fitting into that size 0 bikini you bought as motivation. While having goals is a good thing, driving yourself to eating disorders, exhaustion and obsessive time spent at the gym is not.
Being a 19-year-old girl, I have given into the shallowness of it all. There was a time when I ate only 1,100 calories a day and spent entirely too much time on the treadmill. I was constantly weary and grumpy.
I’m at the point, however, when I know that moderation is the best thing I can do for my body. Finding a good balance between what I should and shouldn’t eat, and how much time I spend at the gym, has made me a happier and healthier person.
Getting a good workout is a great thing, but it missing a day or two during the week shouldn’t cause copious amounts of stress.
There’s a huge difference between doing things to keep your body healthy and doing things to fit into a dress. My diet is relatively healthy, and I get to the gym multiple days during the week. But I’m not going to say no to a piece of pizza when it’s offered. Why should I be unhappy about how I look because someone on TV looks a certain way that I don’t?
We shouldn’t be going to the gym because we want to look like the women that are on TV or in magazines. We should go to be the best, healthiest version of ourselves. Being comfortable in your my own skin is important because it gives you the confidence to go after what you really want.
I’m not saying we should all stop washing our hair and eat a diet comprised of chicken nuggets and pizza, though that might be awesome. Looking good and having people notice is a great feeling. But it’s an even better feeling being happy with who you are. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be in shape, as long as it’s not taken to extremes.
It becomes an issue when the media portrays stick thin as the only way to be, and calling actresses like Jennifer Lawrence fat—which she is far from.
During an interview with Elle Magazine, J-Law declared that she would never starve herself for a part. “I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner,’” she said. “I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong- not thin and underfed.”
So this is a message to all the girls trying to look like models for swimsuit season, and the guys that drool over them. If men aren’t held to a standard of looking like Ryan Gosling or Channing Tatum, they have no reason to expect us to look like Candice Swanepoel.