It’s no secret that many women have body image issues.
Sometimes, when we look in our mirror, it seems as if someone replaced it with a carnival mirror; what else can account for those bulges and crinkles staring back at us?
So what are the perfect measurements for a woman? I checked out the measurements of some of the women praised for their beauty throughout the years: Mae West, the sexy movie star of the 1930s, measured 36-26-36 in 1933. Marilyn Monroe, blond bombshell actress, was 36-23-37. Twiggy, trendy fashion model in the 1960s, was a scant 32-23-32. Lynda Carter, the actress who donned the fitted Wonder Woman costume on the TV series, measured 38-24-36. Beyoncé, mega pop singer, has been said to measure at 34-26-38.
And if Mattel’s Barbie could come to life, it’s estimated that her measurements would be 39-21-33. I don’t know about you, but the only way I could see a 21-inch waist on my body would be for me to don a body-organ damaging corset. The Spanx certainly isn’t going to hack it.
So what’s realistic anyway? Interestingly enough, more current statistics indicate that the average measurements for a woman are 41-34-43 (see Jana Conway’s excellent article). That is big difference from the numbers on those supermodels who strut on the runway during Fashion Week. And what does a 41-34-43 woman look like?
As a matter of fact, The Body Shop apparently wondered the same thing. And in 1997, it started a campaign aimed at the “average woman” which sported posters of Ruby, a full-figured doll who made Barbie look like a waif. Here she is:
Mattel had a problem with her, so — long story short — Ruby’s gone. The Body Shop pulled its campaign. But it is rather fascinating to see the difference between what we expect women to look like and what many women do look like.
So forgetting the numbers (the figures) for a moment, what are the facts about women’s bodies? Well, here are a few:
Most women have some fat on them. In fact, they are supposed to. Women with insufficient fat stores do not menstruate properly. A little “meat on the bones” isn’t a bad thing.
Models and actresses often have help achieving their enviable figures — from nutritionists, chefs, personal trainers, and even private exercise gyms. Keeping to a particular size is part of their job.
Even a lot of those models and actresses are altered in photographs with some parts made slimmer, others fuller, and a lot of airbrushing. In addition, gravity-defying undergarments and beauty treatments account for some of that camera-ready appearance.
Some women could stand to lose some weight. (Hey, I’m being honest here!) We need to take care of the body God gave us. By getting in better shape and eating healthier, they will have more energy and feel better about themselves. Attracting a “Check you out!” from the husband when they walk into the bedroom naked is a big-time bonus.
Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. We throw out this line all the time, but our media indicates how little we actually believe it. Still, we should!
I have an artist friend who has pointed out that many of women in famous nude paintings would have to shop in the full-figured women’s department. Yet, there was something beautiful about them that captured the artist’s attention and continues to capture ours.
Ultimately, body image is about two things: (1) how you look and (2) how you feel you look. Comparing yourself to someone else or an unreal standard is asking for trouble. If you aren’t happy with what you see in the mirror, ask yourself why. Is it because you’re simply aging or you have a body type you aren’t sure about? Those things are what they are. Is it because the closest you’ve been to exercise equipment in the last five years is when you accidentally wandered into that department at the store while looking for Christmas decorations? Maybe you need to make your health a higher priority. (Check out Fit Marriage’s Thrive90 program.) Is it because Angelina Jolie looks better than you? Get over it. She looks better than all of us!
Learn to love the body God gave you. Take care of it. And let yourself be a real-bodied person, with imperfections, wrinkles, and something to pinch at the midsection. Be confident. Be sexy. Be beautiful. God already knows you are.