America’s Next Top Unrealistic Representation of Beauty

I have yet another confession to make. I sometimes  watch America’s Next Top Model (ANTM). I sometimes even enjoy it.  I don’t know what compels me to do so – it’s utter tripe and does everything in its power to reinforce a beauty standard that is unattainable by more women than not. I don’t have numbers, I just know that I see more average, curvy, short, wide and normal looking women when I walk down the street. No Plain Jane [since deleted] has some interesting statistics that I’d recommend.

The thing that gets my goat about ANTM  is the treatment of the truly underdog woman. The one they toss in the mix every other year or so, under the pretense things could change in the modelling industry: the woman with curves. The woman the judges think is gorgeous (and she is), but “the world isn’t ready to see that on magazine pages.” The woman who has meat on her ribs.

We’re talking a woman who’s probably a size 10. Maybe even an 8. And she’s considered huge. Far too big for the competition, she’s told over and over during the scant few weeks she remains in the competition.

Paraphrased commentary:

“We like you, but you’re fat.”

“You’re a gorgeous girl, but you’re fat.”

“Nobody really wants to see that.”

“You seem to be losing some of the spark we saw that made us choose you. Where’s that spark? Oh, and you’re fat.”

Every single time they have a girl with curves on ANTM, she’s treated this way. She’s beaten down every week and is basically told she needs to learn how to take criticism, because it’s a tough world out there…but, honey, why do you look so depressed? Duh.

A size 10 woman at 5’10” or 5’11” is not fat. 5’9″ and 110 lbs. is not something that is natural or physically possible for every woman out there, and it bothers me to no end that this is deemed more beautiful than a 5’4″ and 142 lb. woman because…it’s not.

Comments

  1. Jennifer Kesler says

    The woman the judges think is gorgeous (and she is), but “the world isn’t ready to see that on magazine pages.”

    Funny how we were ready to see Marilyn at her most voluptuous, or Mae West, decades ago. Sounds almost like we’re moving backwards, doesn’t it? ;) In fact, as far as I’m aware, the stick figure of a teenage boy was never a beauty “standard” for adult women until the 60’s, when Twiggy’s look popularized it. She wasn’t even an adult at the time.

  2. scarlett says

    Those stats are scary…

    I remember seeing a documentary on Mae West. I’d never seen an image of her before, only heard of her reputation and contribution to film, and at first I couldn’t believe someone as big as her was such a popular sex symbol. On further though, I decided 1) she looked like she was having so much fun, and that in itself is a huge attraction, and 2)people were less discerning in those days.

  3. sbg says

    Sounds almost like we’re moving backwards, doesn’t it?

    I think we are, in so many ways. Individually, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is truly varied. It’s sad that industries like TV, movies and modeling seem intent on projecting one set image as the ideal. And it’s sad that there are more and more people who aren’t able to see it’s mostly marketing and that they’re perfectly fine as they are. More than fine. Beautiful.

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I totally agree. When I think of the little preferences both male and female friends have told me about, I think I’ve heard every single possible body type described.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    You know, I actually don’t think it’s that people were “less discerning”. I think Mae West looked beautiful to people, and rightly so.

    A lot of men have told me they find the Kate Moss waif look repulsive – skin-n-bones is not pleasant to touch. They prefer someone a little voluptuous or even chubby to someone who’s underweight.

    And a lot of naturally skinny girls I’ve known have reported to me they desperately want to put on some weight all over, because they feel they have no curves, and men like curves. They certainly aren’t getting that message from TV, so I have to take their observations pretty seriously.

    IMO, no one type should be idealized. Skinny is beautiful to somebody (I’ve even known women who prefer ultra-bony guys), healthily overweight is beautiful to others. Short, tall, whatever. Nothing should be trumpeted as the One Single Right Build.

  6. sbg says

    IMO, no one type should be idealized. Skinny is beautiful to somebody (I’ve even known women who prefer ultra-bony guys), healthily overweight is beautiful to others. Short, tall, whatever. Nothing should be trumpeted as the One Single Right Build.

    Hee. Took me a year to respond to this, but EXACTLY!

    You would think that people would logically reach this conclusion on their own, and yet right now I know someone who’s dealing with a teenage daughter with a mounting body dysmorphia problem and subsequent eating disorder. Somewhere along the line “thinner is better” gelled and stuck in her head.

    I wonder how that could have happened.

  7. Jennifer Kesler says

    LOL, Maggie! Yeah, you’re right about the 20’s, and it does seem like quite a coincidence both times the trend arose.

  8. MaggieCat says

    In fact, as far as I’m aware, the stick figure of a teenage boy was never a beauty “standard” for adult women until the 60’s, when Twiggy’s look popularized it.

    It was in the 1920s- women flattened their breasts and hips in order to better fit into the straight shift dresses that were in style at the time. Casting Renée Zellweger in “Chicago” was actually pretty spot on (with the exception of the overly toned arms).

    And I don’t think the timing of those two decades is irrelevant. In the 1920s women had finally gotten the right to vote, in the 1960s feminism was starting to make measurable strides forward. It certainly reads like “Distract them with something- I don’t know, how about unrealistic body expectations? Quick, before they can get too far out of their place!” when looking at it in retrospect.

  9. MaggieCat says

    You can even extend that trend a bit more recently when you consider that Rebecca Walker made her “I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the third wave.” declaration in 1992 and Calvin Klein’s heroin chic campaigns began in 1993.

    How many times does it have to happen before it stops being a coincidence? ;-)

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    I was happy with two, but at three I say no tin foil hats necessary: we has ourselvez a conspiracy! :D

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