Right Time and Place To Be A Skinny White Girl

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Text by Hannah Wolny
Photo by Amuna Wagner

6 ft tall
Skinny
Pale Skin
Long Legs
Lucky
So so lucky

To be born in a time and an environment where my body type is the beauty standard.

I am not trying to be arrogant. I am not trying to say I am THE beauty standard.
I am not saying that I’m everybody’s type because luckily enough overall preferences are very personal and even if I am their type they still might not find me pretty. 

However, there are a few things that got me thinking lately.
When I turn on the TV  I see girls at model casting shows being turned down because they do not have my height or my weight. When I look at a magazine I see dark skin women being photoshopped to appear lighter. Furthermore, I can easily apply for a job without having to worry that they might find my choice of hair style too extreme, whether I decide to leave it natural or to cover it up. I have women coming up to me asking me if I can give them diet tips. I can travel anywhere and people will ask if I am from Hollywood and how I got such a lovely skin tone. I never have to be worried about getting treated worse because of my appearance.
Of course I know other women who are also tall and skinny, but when I look at the majority of my environment women just don’t look like me. Even though most of my friends do not fit into my clothes, women like me are nonetheless representative of fashion world-wide.
Body types like mine run on catwalks and pose on posters.
Body types like mine will be shown in TV adverts for the latest anti cellulite body lotion.
Body types like mine make money just because they are lucky enough to be born in a time where the industry picks these handful of women and idealizes them in order to make money out of this standard that most women will never be able to reach.

Therefore, I would like to go deeper and understand this phenomenon.
Theories explaining what people will find attractive about other people say that evolution has taught us to always look for a healthy partner in order to have healthy children.
This may be why hetero or bisexual men naturally look for women whose bodies look like they will be able to feed and take care of their babies. Keeping that in mind, it actually makes no sense to find someone who is very skinny. During ancient times or even in other cultures nowadays, women like me were or are very often NOT the beauty standard for the reason that being skinny isn’t the best precondition for an upcoming  pregnancy.
However, in modern Western culture signs of a healthy and wealthy body are defined in terms of being skinny or extremely muscular in order to show a life style which allows the time and the money to go to the gym and buy organic food.
The beauty industry has understood this phenomenon and endorses it in order to make money out of it. Obviously, it is a lot easier to make money out of a standard that only a few people are actually able to reach. Promising everybody who wasn’t “lucky” enough to be born skinny, tall and white that if they only buy THIS pair of “body shaping” underwear they won’t have this “ugly” tummy or if they only get THIS anti cellulite lotion they will get legs just like all the girls on the runway have. By buying THIS shampoo and taming your natural hair with it you can make it more “appropriate” for society and using THIS bleaching creme will make your dark skin look just a little bit more like the “beautiful” skin tone all those Calvin Klein models have.
If every kind of body shape and skin color were praised and if we were told that there is no need to change, how would those products still be profitable? Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the industry is trying to sell unrealistic body types as the ideal of the 21st century.

In my opinion, we should start realizing how we have been brain washed into this unhealthy kind of thinking.
We, as the few women who were lucky enough to be born in a system which makes us profit, should encourage other women to wear whatever and appear however they want.
Women like me should start joining the ones who don’t look like us in order to speak up against those standards. We need to criticize the big brands using mostly our types when advertising their products as well as the film industry promoting our type as the super hero or, even more likely, as the love interest of the male super hero.
Yes of course, when I was younger it was nice to hear “Wow you could be a model” and going into a toy store where all the barbies just appeared to be tall, white and skinny and therefore reminded me of myself. But by now I have realized that I was just lucky enough to be born in the right time at the right place. If I was born in a world where being white doesn’t put you in the most powerful position (due to the racist system we live in) and rather somewhere where tiny women with short legs are considered the beauty standard and if that was all that mainstream fashion and beauty product industry showed, I would probably doubt my looks and consequently myself. Especially if all seemingly powerful and admirable didn’t have anything in common with me, I would probably want myself just in order to become more like those women I see everywhere but in reality.

With all this being said, there is another huge problem. Obviously, I am not the first person to call out this problematic “skinny, white and tall” trend” and luckily enough, other body types are increasingly being represented and praised. There are female music artist who are known and loved for their natural curvy looks and there have been a few campaigns featuring “real women”.
But there are also popular role models such as the Kardashians and thanks to modern plastic surgery, we are experiencing yet another trend that has 2 major issues:

First, the beauty industry is appropriating this trend towards curvy girls and so-called “body positivity”. Women are now being shamed for not having a “big butt”, a small waist or “big boobs”. This encourages girls to buy waist trainers or have operations, for example “booty shots”. Just because skinny should not be a trend, thin girls must not be shamed either. More importantly, we must not get tricked by the industry once again, this time with different, but just as unrealistic, standards. They already succeeded in making us believe in new “beauty laws”, such as “you must have thick thighs and a huge bum, but please hide your tummy with this piece of clothing and still buy that lotion against stretch marks since they are still not desirable either“. If we just accepted curvy girls being awesome with all the things being curvy comes with, how would they be able to make money?

Second, those upcoming trends are endorsing a body type which is often found amongst Latinas, Caribbean, African or African-American women and it is great that those women finally get their time to shine. For hundreds of years those women and their looks have being treated horribly so seeing them represented in the main stream media is a great start, even though we are still far from these women being treated they way they deserve.
That being said, it seems like some white women are starting to feel threatened by those trends, which is why they “steal” whatever society will find admirable about those women to fulfill these new beauty standards, thereby adding to their already exiting privilege of being white, skinny and tall. So now you will see tall, white women getting their lips or butts done, creating unnatural looks while completely ignoring the fact, that black women and Latinas were and still are being assaulted for having such big mouths or bums. Having these features should NEVER be a trend since it is not just something you can buy, but something you are born with. Therefore, it is nothing you should be able to just change back when it is not convenient for you anymore. Those features should be simply considered to be as beautiful and women with those bodies should be as well-respected by society as those white “Victoria Secret models”, without us copying them.

Representation is key and women like me have more than enough of it, which is why I want to see other women, no matter how tall they are, how much they weigh or which skin color they have, in the spot light as well.
Note that I say AS WELL because it should be our goal to praise every woman for what she is instead of turning certain types into desirable trends which leads to excluding other women and making them feel undesirable.
Therefore, representation is only key if it is diverse and all-inclusive.

At the end of the day every single one of us is just as beautiful and just because the industry might not make money out of your type right now does not mean you are not as desirable as any other woman who is shown on TV or successful on social-media. Regardless to say that true beauty comes from inside and if you manage to ignore the constant influence from the modern media world we are living in you will be able to start loving yourself for who you are.

 

 

4 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing your opinion and perspective with world.

    I don’t know how old you are but I’m going to assume that you’re about 20 ish years old. I’m also going to assume that you’ve been educated by public institutions like myself.

    Beauty standards go hand in hand with who is currently in power and control the narrative within a specific geographic border.

    There is no society who will truly have multiple beauty standards. That’s a reality a lot of people don’t realize. If such a thing is possible I just want to know one example where that has been the case.

    You see, humans today are not much different from humans 5 and 10 thousands years ago. We have the same blood pumping through our veins and same neural makeup.

    The best way to understand human behavior is to study history. And when I look through history, I don’t see anything like you just articulated ever happening for any sustainable period of time.

    And this is just the fact of humanity and the fact of life.

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  2. There will always be a beauty ideal but there’s no need in changing that or fitting into it in order to feel good.
    The subject of represantation is important, but for my taste you focus too much on looks and external affirmation. I think the solution doesn’t lie so much within acceptance by society and others but rather in developing acceptance for yourself regardless of the opinion of others.

    Also you might like to reflect on why you wrote that article the way you did. One surely could do it without constantly stressing your own good qualities.

    Kind regards and Namaste,
    Peanut.

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  3. Thank you for reading this post and replying to it.

    I know that beauty standards go as you say it “hand in hand with who is currenly in power and control (…) within specific geographic borders” and that certain beauty standards are nothing new.

    But in my opinion you can not compare our modern society to the society 5 thousand years ago when it comes to this subject due to the fact that we now have a whole new system of advertising and global influecing via magazines, websites etc.
    Modern influencers reach a lot more people than people were able to 10 thousand years ago (or even 50 years ago) and we should start talking about how we can be more aware of what is constantly shown to us. Also, the plastic surgery industry is becoming bigger and shaping our bodies into standards which are far away from natural might be nothing new but nonetheless something I would like to criticize.

    One of the reasons which inspired me to write this piece was the fact that I know many girls who suffered from eating disorders and who would constantly compare themselves to the women shown on TV, magazine covers or adverts (phenomenons of the 20th and 21st century). I feel like if those girls were exposed to images that would remind them of themselves, they could have dealt with their body issues much better.
    And if we start speaking up against it and tell big companies or the film industry that we want to see other body types as well, it might be a first step into the right direction.

    I also think that it is important to remind young girls that they should accept themselves for who they are and rather than focusing on looks they should be aware of their insides but we still live in a world in which looks matter a lot so I feel like there could be done even more than just repeating the sentence “just learn to love yourself”.

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  4. Thank you for your reply and leaving constructive criticism which I always appreciate.

    I understand that you would like me to foucs more on inner beauty and I agree that it is more important to accept yourself than being accepted by society.
    However, eating disorders and other mental health problems caused (not only but enough to talk abou it) by soicety are very real. And it is only becoming worse since in our modern world we are constantly exposed to adverts etc.
    It is important to tell women to focus on loving themselfs but I feel like there can be done even more than repeating the sentence “Just ignore other people and accept yourself” since it is something easy to say but hard to do especially for younger girls.

    I am very aware of the way I wrote the articel. I started of explaining that I don’t think I am everybody’s type and that I know that not everybody thinks I am pretty but I am also realizing my privilige. If I would critisze the whole system which actually makes me profit and ignoring the fact that I am tall, white and skinny people could have gotten a very wrong impression of me. I am also actually trying to explain why they shouldn’t be considered “good qualities” or why I would like other women to say that they have other qualities than me but that they are just as good.

    Kind regards,
    Hannah

    Like

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