A few days back, I found myself scrolling through my watch later playlist on Youtube. It was a way to save videos for me back then. “Get thin thighs in only 5 minutes” caught my attention. It was a video I saved in my class 11th after feeling conscious in shorts. I didn’t have a tender and slim figure. Seeing girls of my age having this perfectly toned body, carrying shorts and sleeveless tops effortlessly used to leave me uncomfortable in my home, my body.
After thinking for a good amount of time, I remembered that famous Kareena Kapoor’s zero size figure that soon became the new trend and everyone’s goal. And yes, it added more anxiety and shame for people like me who couldn’t get that.
Skip to 5 years later, now the trends have changed and so is my choice of fitness videos. A new body type has become superior, instantly putting the others as something inferior. People don’t look forward to an extremely lean and flat body but more curvy figures or should I say in the Genz’s term? “Thicc”. I started wondering the whys and hows of this shift.
While spiralling into this trend of body types, I was shocked to see that it’s been going on for a long time. Every few decades, society makes a new mold for women to fit in. A body structure that comes into the spotlight and leaves others to wander in the dark. This creates a division among women and puts one type of body on the pedestal as “the most desirable”. For example, in the 1920s, a boyish figure with flat chests was considered as the perfect body but just a decade later, a curvy body with larger breasts depicting an hourglass figure was in trend.
I also came across this fact that most of the ideals that were presented to women were just a fragment of men’s imagination. “The Gibson girl” was just an illustration by Charles Gibson in 1890 that left numerous women of that era replicating the look. A woman in a corset showing an hourglass became a daily look.
Women’s bodies have never been treated like normal human bodies but it has always been an object of male gaze. What the current society feels as attractive is treated as the “normal“. But are human bodies a commodity that changes every decade according to the trends? Should women leave everything else and just focus on their weight? This is one of the reasons why some women opt for botox and several other surgeries. What about those who can’t afford that? What about those who don’t want to? And why should they?
Weight has become a topic of small talk among people. It is a casual thing to remind people that they have gained or lost weight. We, as a society has become so obsessed with perfectly sized bodies that we hesitate to accept something else. Women have become apologetic for something that is not even in their control. But every time, society presents a new dress and sets impossible goals, our women alter themselves, fakes it or fixes it, just to be accepted.
One also needs to understand that a body structure is not always dependent on physical fitness. A lean body could also be a result of economical restrictions and a voluptuous body of an eating disorder. Women are left with thoughts like they would feel beautiful if they would be born in a different era. Negative body image is one of the main causes of anxiety, depression and several other mental disorders. Promoting a thing that is not even in control of some people is the lowest a society can reach. Shouldn’t we be considered more about their health and intellect than their alluring bodies?
According to a survey mentioned by The Guardian, “One in 10 women said they had self-harmed or “deliberately hurt themselves” because of their body image, compared with one in 25 men”.
So, what is the solution? How does this trend of body types stop? In the recent past, various talks around body positivity have been started. This has surely benefitted and made us aware of our internalised problematic beliefs. Celebrities have come out and shown themselves without filter and from different angles. But till the time, every woman reading this would not feel comfortable with her/their thick or thin thighs in whatever era they are living in, the world would not be a better place. This is a journey of understanding that the problem is not you but them. This change would not and cannot come tomorrow. However, with sincere and collective efforts from the society, it would not be too far.