Overweight Women: To Be Celebrated? Or Shamed?

Two recent stories about "fuller figured" women come from completely different perspectives; one is fat-accepting, one is fat-shaming.

Casey Schwartz writes for The Daily Beast:

Studies suggest that changes in the state of the economy can influence what men find sexually attractive in women— and when the economy's bad, it's good to be fat. Or, at least, a tiny bit fatter.

Researchers polled students about the size of their ideal woman. Male subjects who were made to feel insecure about their finances reported a preference for women who were, on average, roughly two pounds heavier than their financially confident counterparts. Subjects on their way to lunch wanted a woman who was three pounds heavier than guys quizzed when they were full. Whether or not any of this actually translate into the real world, whether or not dudes are actually accepting of women with three pounds more on their frames is not the point. This story is designed, really, to make a woman carrying some extra weight feel a little better. Like her time has come. And in a world where we're bombarded with diet ads and skinny models, some soothing is welcome. (Schwartz writes: "Pass the enchiladas.")

But on the other hand, Mindy Laube penned a scathing piece for a blog associated with Aussie paper The Age, in which she writes, "The human body is meant to be lean and fit." She claims "the fat lobby" attempts to "re-rate our body shape standards to suit an unattractive mean."

The average Australian woman is 5'4" (163 centimetres) and a size 14. These dimensions may be typical but they do not make a woman normal, they make her FAT. […] A fat body is not a normal body. It's an aberration that we countenance to the detriment of our looks, health and self-esteem. Shifting the aesthetic goal posts to normalise a disproportionately high fat-to-muscle ratio on the basis of that figure type's ubiquity is equivalent to rewriting home building regulations to accommodate shoddy workmanship. Prevalence is no justification for acceptance.

Laube references the bestseller Why French Women Don't Get Fat and argues that the real reason French women are not chubby is because they don't let themselves get fat. "French women - and men - prize looks and style over gluttony and sloth," she says. Don't you love it when being fat is equated with being lazy?

While it's true that humans were not designed to eat fast food and sit at a desk all day, this is the reality we live in. Times have changed, so the human body has changed. And some of the most industrious, hard-working people are overweight. Our environment is not what it was in the 1950s, so why should our waistline be?

So which is it? Should overweight women be proud and happy of their size, especially in a recession? And since each generation keeps getting bigger and bigger, will we eventually have an "average" size that is 20 or 24? (Wall-E, anyone?) And is there anything wrong with that? Or is the average (overweight) woman doing herself — and the world — an injustice by keeping the pounds on?


Hot And Heavy
[The Daily Beast]
The Pudgy Country [The Age]