I would like to discuss clothing size, weight, and body types today after running across a discussion on “Letting it all hang out” (you know what I’m talking about) on the snopes.com boards yesterday and reading the LA Times article that sparked the debate on the boards.
I’ve certainly felt the indirect pressure to stay under a certain size and recall being pretty bummed when I had to move up to juniors size 13/14 jeans at my heaviest point. (Yes, yes, I know that 5’6″ and 158 lbs in a size 13/14 juniors isn’t exactly huge, but it’s all relative. For an Asian gal, that was and is pretty darn fluffy.)
I remember wearing size 9/10 in juniors my freshman year of high school and settling into 11/12 by senior year and through college. I was actually all right with this because I used to make a lot of my own clothes and always knew my measurements down to the nearest half inch, so I knew I wasn’t ballooning out and that retail clothing sizes were arbitrary at best. I bought clothes that fit me and didn’t try to shoehorn my size 12 backside into size 6 jeans.
Mind you, it wasn’t usually my butt or hips that were the problem since American clothing seems to be designed for apple body types with huge waistlines relative to hip measurements. I have just always had large thigh measurements, regardless of whether I was fat or lean. Size 6 pants flat out would not make it over my legs, so I never achieved the full muffin top look that girls with skinny legs and soft, squishy tummies and hips sport all over downtown Orlando on Friday and Saturday nights these days.
Anyway, reading the LA Times article made me feel rather sorry for the young women all over the country who aren’t happy with their bodies, but are compelled by the dictates of fashion, peer pressure, and retail availability to wear clothing that neither fits nor flatters them.
Please don’t try to tell me that EVERY overweight girl in clothes 2-3 sizes too small is just expressing her individuality, body acceptance and self-confidence. Unless they are very delusional indeed, girls know when they don’t look good, and, for the most part, this knowledge does trouble them to some degree, even the nerdy geekettes who seem to have no particular interest in fashion or make-up.
I speak from experience here. 😉
That is not why I’ve brought all of this up, though. Having been on the overweight side of the house, I can certainly feel for the females struggling to find flattering off-the-rack clothing, but now that I’ve been on the physically-fit end of things for a couple of years, I have a minor bone to pick.
Here are the kind of comments that I read all the time in women’s articles and forums targeted at a general female audience:
- “Manufacturers need to start paying attention to the needs of REAL women.”
- “REAL bodies aren’t shaped like that.” (Referring to a fashion model, movie star, or fitness model/athlete.)
- “REAL women have curves.” (NOT referring to the sort of curves built with muscle, by the way.)
- “Stores need to stock more fashionable clothes in sizes for REAL women/teens.” (Read as: larger than 14)
I’m not saying that the women who write these things don’t have a valid point about the need for more clothing options for today’s bigger body types and non-standard shapes, but I resent the use of the word “real” in these statements. It implies that anyone who doesn’t have the typical pillowy modern female body type is somehow faking, cheating, buying, or otherwise employing some sort of extraordinary measures to achieve a stock size physique.
I work to keep myself in shape and the creep of excess flab in check, but I don’t consider the things I do to maintain my physical condition out of the scope of any normal, healthy adult. I lift weights three or four times a week, do reasonable quantities of cardio at least that many times and eat healthy, balanced meals six times a day. I drink water almost exclusively (and like it, too, so there), conscientiously take my multivitamin and calcium pills daily, and avoid junk foods in my everyday diet.
The key point here is that *I* do these things. *I* put in the effort. No magic pill or surgeon’s knife got me where I am physically today, and as you can tell from my brief clothing size history, I am definitely not a natural Tiny Asian Girl ectomorph who stays thin without effort.
As a result of my *own* work, I DO look good in off-the-rack clothes and current styles. I DO have the general hourglass/X shape that is supposedly so uncommon. I DO have curves, only they tend to be firm and not lumpy.
Yet according to the cries of the multitudes, this sort of fit body type is not REAL. Since when has the word “real” been exclusively defined as overweight and pugnaciously indignant about the unfairness of it all?
When I read statements and comments like the above now, I mentally substitute the word “AVERAGE” for “REAL,” because those writers have it all wrong in their heads.
The truth is that average bodies are formed by inertia, apathy, and inaction. Real bodies are built muscle by muscle out of the basic materials we ALL possess through hours of sweat, discipline, and will.
What is more real, the numbness and sluggishness you feel after downing a 32 oz. Coke and Burger King meal in the middle of a day where the most strenuous thing you do is walk from your car to your office, or the total connection of your mind and body as it gathers its last stores of energy to push out the final rep of three sets of 30 barbell squats or the pumping of your blood through your legs and the rush of air in and out of your lungs as you sprint the last quarter mile of a 5k run?
If the general public doesn’t agree with my opinion and insists that “real” does equal “average” now, I will just keep on being unreal.
1. 1/3 c. oatmeal, 3 T. raisins, 1 whole egg, 3 egg whites
2. 1 banana, 1/2 scoop whey, 1/2 c. light soy milk
3. 4 oz. chicken breast, 1/3 c. (dry) oatmeal, 1 c. Mandarin veggie mix
4. 1 unsalted rice cake, 1/2 T. all-natural peanut butter, 1 scoop whey
5. 4 oz. chicken breast, 3 c. Romaine salad, 2 T. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing, 2 corn tortillas
6. 1 c. light soy milk, 1 scoop whey
Water: 16 cups
Supplements: multivitamin, calcium 600+D, EAS l-glutamine, Instone Pre-Workout Intensity
Calories: 1453 calories (44.7% carb/37.4% pro/20.1% fat)
* Shoulders/Rear Delts/Abs (60 min)
* Walk (4 mph / 25 min)
* YF Physical Challenge (15 min)
* YF Flexibility (15 min)
Calories burned: 588 calories
DEFICIT: -800 cal (Target: -632 cal/day)
BUDGET NOTES: None