A Weighty Issue

The Sartorialist seems to have caused a fair bit of controversy and outcry with one of his recent posts. The uber-blogger has ruffled a considerable number of feathers by referring to a girl as sturdy(note: the actual quote is “sturdy, but beautiful”). Now, if someone called me sturdy I would probably want to cry, so I do get that it’s not the nicest way to describe a lady. However, I don’t necessarily agree with the rest of the commotion and I feel like it’s time to throw my two cents into the debate. I would also really like your views on this! And as with everything on this blog, my views are just my own and are not intended to offend or insult anyone, and if you don’t agree with me that is fine!


"Sturdy, but beautiful" legs

image via thesartorialist

I normally keep quiet because I don’t really tow the line when it comes to general consensus on this issue. I think it’s a topic that we are a little bit too sensitive to really talk about in an objective and rational way. This is natural, given that it is our bodies and by extension ourselves we are discussing. Let me start off by saying that I firmly believe that the best body shape is a healthy one, where the person has a healthy BMI. I do not believe that there is a magic (dress) number for women, because we come in different shapes and sizes, tall, short, hippy, athletic, booby, petite, etc.

What really annoys me in all the furore about size is the assumption that all women need to be curvy. Some women are. But some AREN’T. Does the lack of wide hips mean that they are not “real” women? Really???? That’s akin to saying that you need a massive pair of knockers to be a real bird. Come off it.


Late Afternoon blogger, Liz

image via popcultureafternoon.blogspot.com

The Sartorialist annoyed many by saying that the girl he photographed was a bigger girl than most famous bloggers. From the blogs I read anyway, that is a fairly accurate statement. It is our own insecurities that makes such statements an insult. And in an industry where the standard is a couple of dress sizes smaller, she IS bigger than a model. I missed the part where he said this was a bad thing though.

I suppose my views on size are slightly warped. I am well above average height for a girl, especially an Irish girl. I have always been very tall and have spent my life listening to people tell me HOW TAAAALLLLLLL I am. Now, when was the last time you went up to a short person and told them they were sooooooooooooooo small??? It just isn’t done. Why? It might hurt their feelings. How does that work? If I told a short person that they were short it would be an observation, not an insult. Now, when was the last time you told someone they were thin? And the last time you told someone they were fat? It’s the same.

We are so preoccupied with insulting “fuller figured” people. It is fine to tell someone that they have an eating disorder when they are too thin, but not when they are too fat. I do not encourage being underweight, far from it, but by the same token it is a bit rich for a society to then ignore the other end of the spectrum. And, to be cynical, we don’t have a thin crisis, we have an obesity crisis….


the infamous Rumi Neely

image via fashiontoast

Back to my original point. What really really annoys me is women who think that you have to be a size 14 (US 10) to be a REAL woman. Sorry sister, that’s like saying you have to be 5’1″ to be a REAL woman. I feel like the official line on weight and size has become a little bit distorted and that instead of promoting an ideal body based on the individual’s natural shape, height and BMI, we are instead saying that you have to have to have loads of curves to be “normal”. That to me is as misleading as saying you have to have no curves at all. Although the “real women” campaigners say that women come in all shapes and sizes, they systematically ignore any of those shapes that do not resemble Christina Hendricks’. I’m far from model thin, but I’m hardly voluptuous either. I’m athletic I guess, with strong shoulders, (proportionally) small waist and big hips. So does that make some parts of me “real” and others not??? And if so, what are the others, fake?!!!!! To be slender (or in my case, partially slender) is to be fake, is that it?!!

For me, this real woman thing fails to address issues such as eating well and exercise to make ourselves fit and healthy, which should be the ideal, rather than shifting favour from one body shape to another. We are so worried about not wanting to be too thin that perhaps we are leaning too far the other way.

So, the Sartorialist, and that girl. She’s not model thin. And he said that. He also said she has awesome style. Which is again true. And her face is stunning (to be fair when was the last time you saw an ugly girl on his blog?!). She looks healthy and well dressed. There are larger and smaller well dressed girls out there, and ALL of them are REAL women.



10 thoughts on “A Weighty Issue

    1. Oh my god alex, you’re sOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooo short……… *facepalm*. I was talking to someone the other day, and realised that as soon as people start mentioning my height, I completely lose interest in speaking to them. Seriously, it’s so stooopid!

  1. I totally agree with you… There is such an annoying issue about what the “perfect” size is. One day it’s skinny next it’s curvy. The people who take it to the extreme are the ones who bother me… You know the ones who go on and on and on AND ON about getting the perfect body (I know a few, they drive me round the bend). I am a size 16 and I am proud of my curves but I have some friends who a naturally slim and look divine. I can’t imagine curves would suit them (the same way I think I would look odd thin).

    And I agree with him she does have sturdy, shapely legs…

  2. I have several issues with Scott’s post, and they start with the fact that he talks about how she’s a “bigger” girl, meaning bigger than fashion bloggers, when he himself reinforces the stereotype of fashion bitches being skinny by ALWAYS, ALWAYS posting pictures of skinny fashion bitches. (I mean fashion bitch in the best way; I wish someone would describe me as a fashion bitch.)

    Next up, he rarely comments on his photographs. He rarely says anything about his subject’s bodies. Not, “wow I love how bony her collarbone is” or “this is a skinnier woman than your average woman” or “this woman’s legs are amazing they’re so lean”. So why does he suddenly start talking about women’s bodies when he gets a woman who has a fuller figure?

    I’d love to get to the point where women’s bodies are no one’s business but their own, but at the moment fashion – and society – has a monopoly on women’s bodies and it’s acceptable (and expected) that we be appraised on that basis.

    As regards your “leaning too far the other way” comment, not a chance. There is not a woman in the western world who would honestly rather be too fat than too thin; society (fashion, the media, peer groups) all value thinness far above fatness, regardless of whether someone is healthy or not. It may not be right, but it’s the way things are.

    1. That’s such a valid point on how he doesn’t comment on skinny girls. It is pretty biased, and it would be great if he had just posted her without comment, which would have placed her in the same sphere as the rest of his subjects. By commenting he sort of devalued the image. Had he left it, she would have just been another fashion bitch.

      Sadly, I don’t think our bodies will never be just for ourselves, as it is the first thing that people see when they look at us, and nature has us programmed to judge that. Although as a society we have brought ideal body shapes to an extreme, we can’t blame fashion for an instinctive reaction to appraise people’s appearance and bodies.

      I meant leaning too far the other way in terms of political correctness and how quick people are off the mark when the size issue is brought up, and how sometimes it can seem politically incorrect to be thin, like you are letting the side down or you are a “bitch”, fashion or not. I am not on either side, I am just fascinated by how strongly people defend curvy (which is sometimes a euphemism for slightly overweight) girls and give out about skinny girls, especially if, as you say, they all want to be thin themselves. It’s a massive issue, but I suppose my point really is how it is unfair to pick any one shape and say that it is what a real woman is, curvy or thin. And as someone who is completely surrounded by fashion and fashion media, I really feel that it is important to be healthy and try to look my own best, rather than buying into the skinny thing or the curvy thing. You are right, that is not always the case, but wouldn’t it be nice if it were.

      1. I disagree about bodies. It’s not because they’re the first things people see; it’s because we’re women. Men don’t get their bodies appraised in the same way at all. I don’t blame fashion, I blame the oppression and objectification of women (which goes way back), but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

        I agree that the term “real woman” is offensive; I also think there shouldn’t be an ideal weight – but it’ll be a long while before anyone considers anything other than skinny as being ideal, so I see no harm in exhalting curvier women for a while (if we’re going to be talking about bodies at all).

        Have you read Susie Orbach’s Bodies? Really interesting, about how we view our bodies (we being women), and why…

  3. hmm I think its the word “but” that gets to me. It implies that sturdy is bad BUT in this case it is beautiful.

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