Ashley Graham—the plus-size model to be the first appearing in a Sports Illustrated—had written an essay for The Edit. In the essay, she writes that when she was a US size 18 it didn’t hurt her bookings, but she didn’t feel comfortable, didn’t feel good at that size.
Now, she is a US size 14 and has been for many years. Graham confidently writes how she is comfortable now. Losing weight wasn’t a way of conforming to pressures put on her to lose weight, but rather a way for her to become comfortable in her own skin.
Human bodies are built differently. Anatomy dictates that everyone cannot be held to the same standard of beauty. It is physically impossible to fit everyone into one tiny box. So instead we need more boxes—a lot more boxes. We need one for every person to get comfortable in. Every person in the world gets their own box, with plenty of room, to find what makes them happiest.
When I say every person, I mean every person. Not just every woman gets her own box, but every man as well. Every man gets his own box, because low self-esteem and poor body image is not just a women’s issue. To pretend otherwise is sexist and demeaning to both genders. Body image is definitely more talked about with women, but that tall, muscular, chiseled man with the perfectly coiffed hair in every menswear ad is by no means an accurate representation of the male form. Whoever Mr. Calvin Klein or Mr. Hollister are, they might be making the ladies giddy, but they have distorted men’s view of what they should look like. Mr. Calvin Klein and Mr. Hollister each get their own “comfortable box” to hang out in, where they can be happy with the way they look, but they won’t disturb other people’s perception of beauty.
It feels as if the pressure to be beautiful—whatever that really means—is getting more and more intense with each passing year, each passing fad. We had bikini bridges and thigh gaps, and I’m sure the coming years will have some interesting crazes to further warp the image. The image and the pressure have to shift from being “beautiful” to being comfortable.
Ashley Graham only appears in Sports Illustrated in an advertisement. It’s a step in the right direction, but I’ll be stoked to see a plus-size girl on the front cover, in a way that means something—not People magazine telling us that so-and-so needs to lose the baby weight. Ashley Graham, you are my beacon of hope.
Nicki Kern is a senior at Bethlehem Central High School in Delmar, and is fulfilling an internship with us at The Spotlight. We plan to continue providing her insight on issues concerning her generation, our society and other topics of interest.
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