20 Inches of Ideal Beauty…All Hollow

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Being autistic can have some rather tragic co-morbid mental disorders. Unfortunately, mine was an eating disorder. A major one.

I was born into a family of big-boned eaters on both sides. My Dad’s side does have a few thinner women, but those thinner women are more the result of post-menopausal bone density loss than eating habits. But for the most part, we’re curvy. We’ve got large frames. We eat. We drink. We’re a merry bunch (when we’re not at each other’s throats for petty familial issues).

Up through high school and into college, I ate when I felt like it, and even sometimes when I didn’t. I was relatively overweight my whole life. Then, after a pretty bad heartbreak that came out of left field, my warped brain decided the reason the boy I was with changed his mind and left me was because I was fat (later, I realized it was because I didn’t have sex with him the first night I knew him). As with having AS, once my mind had set its course, there was no turning back. I began exercising like mad, and developed a system of compensation: everything I ate during the day had to be burned off, or else you couldn’t eat later.

Over the course of a month, I lost fifteen pounds, which was a victory. The weight loss ended up totaling about 60 pounds before I was caught. While I didn’t endure medical treatment (a result of not having enough symptoms of anorexia or bulimia to warrant insurance coverage), I fought long and hard, as well as a warped body image engraved into my head, to fight my fear of food. Today, I am 168lbs at 5’7”, a US size 10, and am still dieting, though under close supervision.

But coming upon a yahoo article about a Romanian model who has a ‘natural’ 20 inch waist while having 32-inch hips is, admittedly, starting to re-ignite that ld spark of self loathing. The article blatantly gives off the message that this impossible figure is, in fact, naturally attainable. I felt like my lunch of snap peas, a hard-boiled egg, and a cup of grapes, was suddenly excessive. And did I need that low fat creamer in my tea at all?

But I can’t help but notice, for as much as this model brags about being natural, and pigging out on kebabs and pizza, that you don’t see a single photo of her bare midriff. Were she all natural, wouldn’t she do a bikini photo to prove it?

Then I got the answer: tight lacing. She’s a fake.

For those of you who need a definition: tight lacing is the modern-day, Western equivalent of foot binding. It’s a fashion trend that involves immense suffering in order to attain an exaggerated version of an ideal of beauty, resulting in an unnatural-looking body part. In spite of the grotesque shape attained, it is worshipped as epitomizing discipline as well as beauty. Tight lacing is a trend where the participant will lace herself into a steel corset, wear it night and day, pulling it tighter and tighter over the course of years, until her internal organs realign in such a way that the waistline can shrink below 22 inches. Her bust and hips remain the same size, sometimes even expanding to accommodate the evicted organs. The most desperate of tight lacers will even undergo surgery to remove the lowest ribs of the ribcage to make even more room.

Looking at the photos of this woman, I cannot logically see where she has those natural proportions. Evolutionarily speaking, this woman cannot possibly be able to bear children, therefore making it harder to attract a mate (even though this particular woman does have a husband).  

So why was this article published?

I find myself, as an Average Jane regarding body type and size, being constantly attacked and degraded by articles like this, as well as women like this. Society is reverting back to the medieval adoration of ‘lily feet’ (the term for Chinese women who successfully underwent foot binding). Only instead of lily feet, it’s the willow waist. And for a country that likes to brag it is on the cutting edge of social progressivism, that seems pretty backwards to me. And, as with foot binding, only the most privileged of women can afford to undergo the procedure. So, at the end of the day, it’s the insane ideals of the few that dictate the standard beauty laws of the many.

And it hurts. A lot. Especially someone like me, who cries when she passes a mirror. Who deprives herself of pleasure because she knows she’ll punish herself for it later. Every time I stick my finger down my throat, an editor of Vogue Italia smiles and cashes a check.

Also, perhaps it’s just me, but the fact that a tight lacer’s waist is as thin as it gets while having nothing but spine inside is an ironic testamant. Nothing inside. No purpose. No subtsance. It’s all about the shell. Same with the lily feet…they may be tiny, but they all but completely lose their function of helping the body they are attached to in moving from point A to point B.

This is my plea to the world: for the sake of a young woman who wants nothing more than to define herself by something other than a dress size, make natural beautiful again. Don’t insult the starving billions in third world nations by making their suffering the ideal.

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