Friday, July 31, 2015

Let's Be Powerful

This beauty distortion thing has been on my mind for a year, ever since I came across this post on the Arkansassy blog, containing one young woman's response to the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Now, it's been almost a month since the 2014 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, and here I am thinking about it again. This girl seemed to make some pretty good points, but the whole post held a sense of discomfort.

The blog was titled "Real Women DON'T Have Curves," and was followed by the first line on the blog "...and real women have them." She makes the argument that if you were born with a vagina, you are a real woman. Okay, so no one can argue with that. Then she continues to say that even if you aren't born with a vagina, but identify as a woman, then you are a real woman. But there's already a pool of controversies in that statement alone. You've got the usual liberal vs. conservative views, Democrat vs. Republican... But let's focus on what view matters most to me.


If He didn't design you with a vagina, chances are high that He designed you to be a man. Or, at least, not a woman.

"If we're so quick to blame our genes for making us fat, why wouldn't genes be responsible for these women being skinny? They aren't 'clearly sick' or 'disgusting,' they just look different from us."

Okay, guilty. I'll be the first to admit that I throw around the physicality and lifestyle of skinny women, and I even identify as a "skinny woman." I am, in no way shape or form, fat, but the thought of women who are naturally skinny by genes, or hormones, or whatever, is unfathomable to me. It doesn't make sense because I am not built that way. Everyone blames genes for making people fat when they are defensive about their lifestyle choices, but when we see a thin woman, we tell her she needs to eat something. This point I understand. Women are not the same size or shape. There's nothing wrong with being fat if your health is not in danger, and no, there's nothing wrong with being skinny if your health is not in danger. This point makes sense! Then you keep reading.

While she is correct in saying that real women have curves and real women don't, she seems to think that you can't be skinny with curves. And that's wrong. She's only considering the idea of outward curves, completely ignoring the general population of women who have inward curves. I'm a size 2 with a flat stomach, so in theory I should look like those runway models. But I don't. I'm about 8 inches too short and my butt is about 12 inches too round in circumference. My body is an hour glass. My waist is small, but my boobs and butt make up for everything missing in the middle. Not to pride myself in that because I have just as many physical insecurities as the next gal, but I'm a "real woman" too. So, if I were Miss "Arkansassy," I wouldn't let my entire blog post ride on "real women" points that "real women" can prove wrong.

I understand her rant about fat women telling skinny women to eat a sandwich, because I am a victim of such slander myself. Many of my friends joke with me that I need to eat a sandwich. But the kicker is? I do. I love sandwiches! And fried chicken, and hamburgers, and I will argue any day that french fries are the best thing to ever exist on this God green earth. They are hands down my favorite food. But I won't be able to eat like that forever. I won't be able to eat that way when I am the age of Victoria's Secret models.

Miss Arkansassy kept repeating in her blog that the size of the woman doesn't matter, because we're all real women. But if it doesn't matter, why did she blog about it? Why am I blogging about it? Because it does matter. At least, it does to me, and to every other woman I've ever come in contact with.

"If you're a woman who thinks it's okay to tell a skinny woman that she needs to eat a sandwich, I hope you don't mind when that skinny woman tells you that you're a fat ass." 

Woah, woah, woah. Slow down, honey. Where did that even come from? We're getting a little defensive now. Not only was that statement completely uncalled for, but no woman should ever be told that she is too fat. Nor should any woman hear that she is too skinny. Wasn't that was the whole point of her blog? That no woman should feel put down about her weight, no matter how fat or skinny, because we're all "real women?" No woman should hear a single mention about her weight because there is so much more to her, unless there is something unhealthy about the way she is living. 

Just as there is concern for our friends and family who are becoming unhealthily obese, there is concern for our friends and family who are too skinny.

Obesity can cause diabetes, high blood pressure, high osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn), depression, infertility, menstrual irregularities, and even urinary stress incontinence. But being too skinny is a health risk as well. Alone with the usual concerns of workout obsessions and eating disorders, being too skinny can cause an increased risk of miscarriage, lung disease, infertility, ineffective immune systems, fatigue, anaemia, osteoporosis, hair loss, menstrual irregularities, and so much more. So why does being too skinny have just as many (if not more) health risks than being obese, if it is not as big of a concern? With that being said, take note that obesity is defined as a medical condition. Being too skinny is not. There is not even a term for being too skinny unless the poor girl has an eating disorder.

Yes, she's right. Fat women are real women. Skinny women are real women, too.

But you know who else is a real woman? A woman with an eating disorder. A woman who is obsessed with working out. A woman who is suffering the health risks of being too skinny because she is striving to be like underwear angels.

I read some of the comments from others following her blog. One woman seemed astonished that some girls didn't let their boyfriends watch it because she didn't see anything wrong with it. She saw strong, beautiful women and talented designers.

Let me just say now that if my boyfriend was over at my place and it was on, I would watch football with him before we watched the Victoria's Secret fashion show. If you know me, I hate football. I don't want him caught up fantasizing about the physicality of a woman that isn't me. Call me insecure, but I know I'm not alone. It's a legitimate concern. He is young like me, with raging hormones and I'm not naïve to that. He's incredibly mature and I trust him with everything in me, but men will be men. I won't even let him see me in my bra and underwear until there's a big ol' rock on my left hand, even if I was wearing giant fairy wings that matched my panties. I'm an extremely jealous person (and honestly, what girl isn't?), and I don't want him focusing on the physical aspect of a girl. Neither does God. That's not what makes her important. That's not what makes her beautiful. So if I could control it? No, we would not be watching. The same would go if I had a son or daughter. I don't want to teach my son that a beautiful woman consists of skinny model attributes. I wouldn't want to teach my breathtaking daughter that she has to look like a toothpick angel in her underwear to catch a man's attention.

And come on... Strong, beautiful women? Okay, talented designers I understand. I really do. I would give a standing ovation to those designers, especially if they worked with more fabric and designed whole outfits. They are incredibly skilled and talented individuals. But strong, beautiful women? That's not what I see. Those girls are basically strippers who can't dance. Instead, I see a standard that is unattainable to most girls. I see an absolute lie about what beauty really is in a woman. I see taunting models radiating within my TV screen, telling me (and every other girl) that if I don't look like them that I am failing as a woman. Many of these women are physically abused with specific diets to make sure they keep their job, are verbally abused by photographers and designers when their job is not done correctly, and are emotionally abused with all these opinions, billboards, social media posts, blogs, articles, you name it. They are slaves to the industry, much like a prostitute or porn star.

No offense to Victoria's Secret, but I would much rather be a fat woman with a loving heart than a skinny model made to be a sex icon. I would be more beautiful in God's eyes, and I would attract the right kind of Godly men. I don't see Victoria's Secret teaching young girls to be "strong, beautiful women." I see them teaching girls a distorted idea of beauty, and teaching boys that it is acceptable to lust after a woman he does not even know, simply by the way she looks.

It is slightly terrifying -- no, greatly disturbing -- to see how much must be done to transform a normal girl into a modern advertisement. Many have done these evolution videos, but none is more impactful than Dove's Evolution of Beauty.

Is this how we want our girls thinking they have to look, when even the girl in the advertisement didn't look like herself after the editing and photoshop?

I do not shop at Victoria's Secret. JC Penny's bras fit just as well, are far less expensive, and don't make me feel like a failure as a woman because I don't sit on my bed in my underwear biting the tip of my finger. I'm just another woman who needs to buy a bra. I disagree with what Victoria's Secret stands for, and have been troubled for a year about the defense of their company being publicized without bringing attention to what their company is doing to young women and young men, alike.

My boyfriend made an excellent point. "I'll bet that very few, if any, of those models naturally look the way they did on the runway." He nailed it. They diet. They work out. I'll bet most of them don't sit down for dinner with fried chicken and chocolate because they would lose their job if they did.

The problem does not lie with skinny women or fat women. The problem lies with society. A woman who is "too fat" is neglected, contemned, and hurt in this society, while a woman who is "too skinny" is considered to have received a thorough compliment. Victoria's Secret boosts this compliment by showing girls they must look like their models wearing their products to be sexy and attractive. And until I see a model in one of their ads that weighs over 130 pounds, I will not change that statement. I'll go even further. Until I see an advertisement that displays their plus sized line of underwear, I will not change that statement. They have a plus sized line of underwear, but they never put those posters outside the door to reel people in.

This problem that we associate with society is actually a problem direct from Satan himself. I'm not saying this to be over-dramatic. I read a book called Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge with my youth group, about unveiling the mystery of a woman's soul. The book makes excellent points about a woman's dreams for romance, adventure, and the overwhelming desire to be beautiful.

The Eldredge's make an interesting point: Let's take it back to Adam and Eve. When God made Adam, he said that it wasn't right for man to be alone, so he made woman. He made Eve. She was the crown of creation, the last thing ever made. The world had everything but her, and without her, it was not complete. Eve was gorgeous. Eve was beautiful. Eve was what the world was missing. Because Eve was a woman. A woman! Just like you and me. Beauty is in our nature as women. It's the way we were designed, and each of us has beauty to unveil.

While we let that sink in, let's take a look at Satan. Does anyone else remember that his original name was Lucifer, and he was the angel of beauty? If you didn't know that, now you do. The devil was originally an angel, and he was the most beautiful creature in all of creation.

Until Eve.

Lucifer was not a woman. Eve was more beautiful than he could ever be, and he was jealous. Hear that ladies? The devil is jealous of us. Of us! Isn't that exciting? Isn't that wonderful? Doesn't that make you feel so powerful, so... victorious?

The key to this is jealousy. Satan is so incredibly jealous of us that he will do anything to corrupt the idea of a woman's beauty and destroy her confidence. After all, her confidence is a huge part of what makes her so beautiful. So he corrupts our society's idea of beauty, placing icons like Victoria's Secret models on billboards, TVs, and every mall known to man, to remind us of one more thing we are not; one more way that we fail. But that is an absolute lie. So my question is this:

Why do we, as girls, put down other girls, knowing how hard life can be, for a girl? 

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalms 139:14

Every woman is wonderful. Every woman is beautiful. Every woman is stunningly breathtakingly captivating. And if we would just have the confidence within ourselves, no model, no advertisement, no demon can stand in our way. It's what God wants for us, what our men want for us, and what we should want for ourselves. So let's not just be beautiful. Let's be confident. Let's be victorious. Let's be powerful.

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