What Does Size [Fill in the Blank] Look Like?

Lynne Murray says:

A major obstacle to owning and celebrating our bodies is the lack of images of real bodies and the ocean of unreal (sometimes literally photoshopped) images that are held up in the mass media as “healthful” and “normal.” The numbers game can be particularly devastating. We are encouraged to beat ourselves up if our clothing size, measurements or weight are over or under a certain number.  Yet we have only the vaguest idea what any given size looks like.

I recently found My Body Gallery, a site that invites an interactive approach to informing people what real bodies look like.

In a world full of images of how we “should” look it can get difficult to tell how we DO look. Our hope is to build a site where women can see what real women look like. What we really look like. Most women have spent so many years looking at themselves in mirrors that we can no longer see what’s really there. The My Body Gallery project’s goal is to help women objectively see what we look like and come to some acceptance that we are all beautiful.

My Body Gallery offers various methods of interaction. Women can post photos and stories and the site can be searched by weight, body type or clothing size so you can see some examples of what any given size, weight or body type looks like and read what these women feel about their bodies.

Body Impolitic has confronted this issue many times in many ways — Laurie and Debbie’s post on “The Hidden Diversity of Athletes” was a particularly eye-opening example for me.

Even a cursory examination of The Body Gallery site confirms what Seth Matlins says in a Huffington Post piece, “Why Beauty Ads Should Be Legislated”:

“…there is an epidemic crisis of confidence affecting girls and women and an inextricable link between the epidemic and our cultural products, norms and images ”

No matter what size or shape a woman’s body might be, the vast majority of women who share photos and stories on The Body Image Gallery view their bodies with despair. Seeing the disconnect between what a woman’s body actually looks like and how she feels about it can be dramatically helpful.

Adding yourself to the gallery can only make it better.

3 thoughts on “What Does Size [Fill in the Blank] Look Like?

  1. I made the decision to stop being gullible when I was in my early 40’s.

    I decided that the people who made me feel bad about my body were only after my money and didn’t care if I was hurting or even destroyed (as so many are) by the messages they put out. More people die of anorexia than from heroin and I was not about to become one of them.

    So, what was right for me, can be right for you. Eat healthy foods – vegetables, fruit, meats & fish (if you’re a carnivore) and don NOT feel guilty if your body tells you it wants chocolate or ice cream. It is normal for the body to crave fats and sugar, they build good brains and bodies.

    Get some sort of activity going and don’t think you have to go for 30 mins a day, or aerobics/pilates or the other fashionable stuff devised to part you from your hard-earned dollar. Do something YOU like.

    Finally, ask yourself, every time you see a diet ad, or food which says, ‘guilt free’ on the label “What do they *really* want, my good health or my money?” The answer might surprise you.

    To every woman who reads this (and any men who may too) be healthy, be happy and don’t fall for the hype :)

  2. Right on, Lynda! Making that decision isn’t easy because, as you so beautifully put it, so many people are invested in (and most often profiting from) making us feel bad about our bodies. But once we start listening to our bodies for real and giving our bodies what they ask for–the treasure trove of wisdom, healing and self-respect those simple actions yield is truly amazing.

  3. I liked this site, but I wanted more pictures of older women: older skin, older hair, older faces. But to do that they would have to have received photos from older women, and I don’t know how they reached out to get the photos: maybe they didn’t get photos from older women. I did read one submission from a woman who identified as near-60: it was sad, she called her life “a nightmare” because of her feelings about and society’s reaction to her weight. The site appears to present a lot of weight diversity, which is good.

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