Shane Watson of the Times of London believes that the world has finally gotten over its obsession with extremely skinny women and has moved on to embracing "the fuller figure." But is that really true?
Every few months we see an article like this pop up, celebrating a shift from size 0 physiques to "real" women with curves; "it's taken roughly 15 years," Watson writes, "but at long last, after a couple of false alarms, we are officially over skinny. And here is how you can tell: women have started to envy other women, not for their jutting hip bones and the amount of daylight visible between their thighs, but for their soft and shapely bodies." But Watson's argument doesn't hold up; we are NOT officially over skinny, especially when Watson's examples of "curvy" women include Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Aniston, who apparently has "a bit more flesh on [her] bones."
The truth is, an embrace of curves, if it is happening at all, seems to be limited to curves proportionately distributed on a woman who fits into a size 6 dress. Beth Ditto is mentioned in the article, as she always is in these articles, as an example of an extreme— the fashion world, as we've discussed before, is not embracing a million Beth Dittos; it is only embracing one. Watson admits that the new "triumph of curves" comes with its own set of ridiculous figure rules: "Shape is making a comeback, but our perspective has adjusted and now the curvier figure has to obey certain rules. You need a small waist and a flat stomach to contrast with those fuller hips. A pair of nice arms, good ankles and a well-defined clavicle make all the difference." As always, the "embrace" of a woman's body only comes into play when she fits an expected, proportional norm.
The "triumph of curves" is sadly just another attempt to force women to view their bodies within a certain set of limits: go ahead and have your hips, but you better have a flat stomach! Embrace your breasts, but tone your thighs! And what of the women who are naturally lacking curves? Watson seems to think they're all neurotic, elitist calorie counters: "Whippet-thin is the standard body type of the high-maintenance woman with a husband in corporate finance, and those sharp shoulders jutting through cashmere have started to look decidedly last year." Really? I'll tell my DNA to reprogram from "pseudo corporate wife" to "soft shapely woman" right away, Shane. That way, I, too, can have a "real figure."
The truth is, the average woman's body type will never be fully embraced by the fashion or entertainment industries: there will always be an emphasis on changing one aspect of the body or improving another, as that's what sells, sadly. And though there will most likely never be a trend piece with the headline "Triumph Of All Body Types," that is what we all should truly be aiming for.
The Triumph Of Curves [Times Online]
Earlier: Is Beth Ditto Changing The Face Of Fashion, Or Is She Just Another Fad?