Fit not Thin – Feminism, Fashion and Fitness

I read an article on Jezebel about “thin shaming” a while ago, and it has sat with me and brewed and forced me to into having opinions I didn’t know I had. The Jezebel piece is a well reasoned and well written article on the notions of shaming women based on their body shape, and “a system that makes us hate ourselves for profit”. I agree with her idea of body empowerment, and body acceptance.

However, I am uncomfortable with the fat v skinny debate. It’s not that I hate fat, or hate thin. I don’t hate anyone. I just hate the idea that we are STILL talking about bodies in terms of fat and thin. The body we should be focused on is the healthy one. It’s the elephant in the body-issue room. As boring as it sounds, healthy is the only ideal worth aspiring to. It is positive to encourage women to be comfortable with themselves, and to break free from that profit-making hate system. But it is an awkward and overlooked fact that being healthy is good for you. Unhealthy lifestyles (on both ends of the BMI spectrum) are bad for you and will make you sick eventually, which will impair your quality of life. And that sucks. Are we so focused on finger pointing and shaming ourselves that we have forgotten that feeling good from being healthy feels great?!

Either way, Jezebel’s article, itself a reaction to another article, got me thinking about the bigger picture. I have noticed a rise in the amount of “get fit” initiatives about in the past couple of years, both government and corporation funded.  Stricter food labelling now means we know what exactly we are eating almost all of the time. These are responses to public (consumer) demand. Mostly. And government think-tanks that have figured out that a healthy public costs less than an unhealthy one. As a society, we are slowly realising that we need to be healthy, but as women we are still stuck on fat vs thin. And while we are still slinging “fat bitch” and “skinny bitch” into either court, we should be focusing on what’s best for our own bodies. Programmes like the “Get Fit, Get Happy” campaign fronted by Daisy Lowe and run by the Sunday Times Style Magazine back in the summer advocate “fit not thin” mantras, which I feel are the way forward out of the fat vs. skinny hate spiral, which, if believed would have us all hating everything all the time.

But like whatevz, right? I mean it’s all just words and hollow promises, right? Well, I’m not sure it is. Fashion is not created in a vacuum. It is a reactionary commentator as well as a visionary trailblazer. The NOW aesthetic is clean and functional. From grungy streetwear to twenties style sporty silhouettes, the staple sportsluxe and even martial arts inspired lines, the zeitgeisty feeling is active*. Even the cool-girl flat of the moment is a trainer. Preferably New Balance or Nike, but that’s beside the point. Sportswear is everywhere, and not just the edgier designers you would expect to draw on streetwear influences. It’s been coming for a couple of seasons but right now it’s literally everywhere. It would be deluded of me to think that everyone is going to change their opinion overnight, and quite clearly the world is not going to turn into a health freak just because there is a sweater on a runway. But it would be nice if women supported each other more and focused more on what was healthy for themselves rather than name calling, shaming themselves and others. Positive change happens one person at a time. And when Lanvin is rocking parachute silk and medal necklaces, there is definitely something in the air. Just sayin.

*equating health initiatives with Lanvin parachute silk & Prada trainers – stretch, anyone? Or IS it…

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One Comment to “Fit not Thin – Feminism, Fashion and Fitness”

  1. Great post! It’s so hard to get from the ‘fat vs skinny’ thinking to the ‘healthy’ thinking, I’m struggling with it myself. For so long I’ve been concentrated on not being ‘fat’ but I’ve recently realized that it’s healthy I need to be above everything so I’m trying to use that as my motivation..! It’s hard though haha

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