We’re all familiar with the terms used to refer to a woman who’s dress size is larger than a 10- big girl, full-figured, plus-size, thick, well-proportioned, zaftig, curvy, voluptuous, plump, vigorous, buxom, healthy. A generation ago women such as screen sirens Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell were revered for their full hour-glass figures. Society has since come to worship thinness and it’s simply not a realistic view, especially since the average size of a woman today is a 14, the size at which plus-sized clothing begins.
We women of color (inclusive of our Latina sisters) tend to embrace our fuller curvier figures more so than others- since our rounded hips, full behinds, and thick thighs are part of our rich cultures and heritages. However, it is not too often that we get to see our body types represented in mainstream media. In the past few years though, we have seen a slow shift in favor of the curvier woman through the likes of entertainers such as Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, to our fuller figured sisters like Queen Latifah, Monique, Oprah Winfrey, and Jennifer Hudson; some of whom have since undergone lifestyle weight changes but they can certainly identify with the plight of the fuller figured woman.
When the vivacious Precious star Gaby Sidibe received so much flack and criticism for her weight by some in Hollywood and the fashion industry I felt disgusted. There seems to be a double edged sword here- having extra pounds is frowned upon and will most likely prevent you from getting that magazine cover shot or that next leading role in a movie, but it’s ok for models and actors to practically starve themselves to dangerous levels just to get hired. Where’s the sense in that? Regardless of how justified Gaby’s critics felt they were by imposing their own personal opinions about about her weight, the bottom line is it’s HER body. My point is that just because someone is overweight doesn’t mean that they should be excluded from being beautiful. I applaud Gaby’s strength for hanging in there with the pressures of stardom regardless of what people were saying. She has certainly succeeded in proving her critics wrong. If this same type of situation had taken place within a junior high or high school setting, some poor girl may have turned to drastic or perhaps even life threatening measures (like bulimia or anorexia) just to fit in and be accepted by others.
We must be very careful about the types of standards we set upon looks and size (pertaining to weight), especially when it comes to our young girls (daughters). True beauty really begins on the inside. It is part of your being- character, values, morals, and how you treat others. The outer shell is only a bonus- but if we can embrace what we see in the mirror, then we can learn to fully love ourselves. Although having a healthy body is very important, so is having a positive self-image. Remember that beauty comes in all types of packages and deserves to be wrapped with respect.