Aside from life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, today’s American dream is comprised of three things: wealth, attractiveness and sex. These components intermingle and rely heavily on each other, because without having one of them, it’s hard to obtain another. The latter two are extremely intertwined, because Americans believe that attractiveness is correlated with how fit and thin a person is. Our society has associated ugliness with being overweight, and no one wants to have sex with an undesirable, right?
Interestingly enough, Americans didn’t used to place so much value on being skinny as they do today. Before the 1800s, being fat was viewed as a sign of wealth and vitality, while today it is seen as disgusting and a sign of poverty. Many factors contributed to this perceptional change, but the most influential one that continues to underline the importance of being thin is the media. Women’s magazines, television shows, advertisements and movies cast extraordinarily beautiful women with small waists to attract the attention of viewers. Unfortunately, this business tactic comes with the price of promoting the “thin ideal.” This ideal is the accepted notion that women must have a slender body, but the problem with this in American society is that the country’s obesity rate is extremely high. The reason that this is a problem is because overweight girls are “fat shamed” and bullied for not participating in the thin ideal.
In an attempt to combat the low self-esteem that overweight girls experience, various self-loving blogs have been created to offer insightful and enlightening passages on how to love your body. The blogs mention things like, “Don’t listen to the haters; you’re beautiful the way you are,” and “thin does not mean beautiful.” However inspiring these websites might be, it is unlikely that they actually teach overweight girls how to love their bodies and feel confident in a skinny world. It’s hard to reach out to someone and convince them that they are not as grotesque as society has made them feel, because it’s hard to love yourself and your body when no one else does. We, as humans, are in constant need of validation from other people to assure us that we are acceptable. Girls who have been bullied their whole lives aren’t likely to love themselves because a blog – probably written by someone else who struggles with their self-image – told them to, and they’re also not going to love themselves because their best friend assured them that they “look fine.”
Fat girls are in desperate need of a revolution, a revolution that will change the way society views beauty. Even if a girl is able to accept her body and engage in activities without being self-conscious and constantly worrying about her image, there’s always going to be a negative stigma attached to obesity. But, if fashion icon Twiggy was able to influence the fashion industry in the Western world with her thin body by endorsing rail thin models, then who’s to say that a revolution of curvy girls isn’t to come?
The question then remains: how do we uproot the idea that in order to be pretty you have to be skinny? Is it possible to change the mindset of 316 million people? The answer is: absolutely. It might seem radical and far-fetched, but if one person was able to revolutionize the way people perceived beauty, then a reverse effect is indeed feasible.
Loving yourself can be a painful process, but in order to succeed in this life, it is imperative. Overweight girls shouldn’t have to convince themselves that they are beautiful the way they are, because it’s possible that they might not be. Perhaps they do need to lose weight in order to achieve the goal of happiness. Surfing on the web for quick answers and motivation to feel confident isn’t long lasting, but changing a lifestyle can be. America needs to erase “think thin” from its mentality and replace it with “think comfortable,” because the only important measure of beauty is how comfortable a person feels in their own skin.