Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A normal body

One day, perhaps, it will be possible to discuss body-image issues without this layer of hypersensitivity such that saying anything, absolutely anything, even anything empowering, is impossible. That day hasn't come. Jezebel and Jezebel-commenters find it problematic that a beauty-pageant contestant's body is being described as "normal." There's no such thing as a normal body, you guys! This is thin-shaming of the other contestants! Or wait, this woman is more thin than fat - so it's fat-shaming! 99.99999% of women could never be as thin as this Miss Indiana!

But what are we to call a body that - while not exactly like that of all women (no body is!) - gives the impression of being... realistic? Of being the plausible result of a healthy-enough lifestyle and no cosmetic surgery? (Without having any idea, of course, how this particular woman came to look as she does - the question is the message her build sends.) Precisely because so many women are built give-or-take like this woman, celebrating her in a bathing suit ends up not just flattering the great many women who kind of look like her, but also suggests... that even though we're looking at her in a bikini, she's been selected for something other than having attained (or been genetically gifted with) a freak-of-nature-in-a-good-way physique.

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