At work the other day, someone came up to me asking for an Extra Large size in the jacket they were looking for. I went looking for one, only to find that their were none. I just assumed that we were out of stock. What I didn’t realize was that the store that I work for do not, in fact, store any clothes for women in Extra Large. After further research, I found out the reason: apparently the CEO of the company that I work for does not like fat people. According to him, the company that I work for is all about conveying an image of “perfection” when it comes to body shape and appearance, and body fat most certainly does not make the cut.
My first thought was shame. Shame at the fact that I represent a place that sells such an idea by working for them. I wonder if anyone else that works with me feels that way. That shame was (and I hate even admitting it) was shortly repressed by the thought that in the city I live in, it is hard to find a part-time job, especially if you’re a student and cannot speak the local language, thus I should feel grateful that I even have a job, no matter what it represents. After all, there are worse places to work.
But then I got thinking. I was not thinking about how I fit into all of this, but rather how everyone else I know, and I suppose society in general, fit into all of this. They’re always saying society is shifting towards being more open-minded about the way people look. The fact that people should be more accepting of how others look, and the fact that the perception of beauty is distorted. The Dove Evolution, plus-sized models and “Real Women Have Curves” just to name a few examples about how society is trying to make us believe that beauty is diverse. That you can be fat or skinny, tall or short, dark or light-skinned, curvy or flat… you can be anything and still be beautiful. It’s the inside that counts, not the outside.
But let’s face it, it’s never going to completely change. There will always be those superficial individuals who will have a concrete mind-set about what the definition of beauty is. It’s just unfortunate that some of these people have the resources and power to influence others to believe what they believe, like the CEO of the company I work for.
I think Tina Fey expresses by skepticism about society’s relationship with beauty and body image best:
“But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—Beyoncé brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.”