Unfortunately the recent, or not so recent, 'slim craze' does not make this any easier. A lot of women are now going for smaller even if it does not mean healthier. In addition, this entire discussion tends to neglect the fact that many of us on the smaller side are also victims of similar social pressure. However, size is just one factor in this complex equation. Even if you do attain that ideal shape - Is your hair the right texture? Is your skin the right complexion? Are you too tall or too short?
Infatuation with the female form is manifested in visual art as far back as the 'Upper Paleolithic' or 'late stone age period'. Venus Figurines from some regions had exaggerated or prominent stomachs, breasts and vulva with no facial features or clothing included while it was almost quite the opposite with Venus Figurines from other regions.
Historians studying the art of ancient cultures speak about images of nude women as representations of birth and fertility as opposed to notions of objectification and sexualization . While this is not untrue, it cannot be disputed that one is given a sense of the 'ideal form' of the particular period from the physical appearance of women in art.
One is able to get an insight into the way of thinking and the thought processes of a particular society or group of people simply by the way the body is portrayed in the work.
The necessity for women to try to achieve an 'ideal look' is also hardly a new phenomenon. John Singer Sargent's Madame X, an 1884 portrait of Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, is a depiction of a woman who painted herself with a lavender powder and prided herself on her beauty and appearance. She was well known for having a blue tint.
The truth is that visual art is not simply sculpture or representations on canvas anymore. We can now access images with the click of a button. Today we live in a very commercialized environment and the way the body is portrayed has evolved with this environment. The body has now, more than ever, become an object of conflict and debate where people try to force an ideal concept on individuals. Simply look at the way the body is portrayed in advertising and the media. Ask yourself why are anti-aging products and plastic surgery designed to target women more so than men.
The truth is that the 'ideal form' could never be the same for every individual. The artistic value of the body is that it comes in different structures and sizes and, as a result, appeals to different senses. I am not going to deny that the constant overload, of what is and is not the current superficial look, does not present a challenge in how we view ourselves.
Nevertheless, the pertinent question is how do you want to view yourself? There is certainly nothing wrong with being comfortable in your own skin. If loosing weight or gaining weight will make you a healthier person then by all means do so. However, the only ideal perception of what makes you beautiful should be yours.
Your hair, your skin, your features, your shape and size make you a unique work of art. I don't have to tell you what the solution to the problem is.......LOVE YOURSELF!
Anya 'Tripp' Lorde