Why Do We Pressure Sexy Women to Lose Weight? 8 Beautiful Stars Who Still Get Called Fat
Photo Credit: Aishwarya Rai
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The type of woman’s physique that is popular in the media varies over time—recall the way healthy, toned ‘90s supermodels like Cindy Crawford gave way to the “heroin chic” of emaciated Kate Moss—but in the last decade, the demand for a hyper-emaciated frame has reached a fever pitch. High-end fashion models, plagued by the constant fear of being called too fat for a job, throw themselves into starvation mode, some to the point of death: Ana Carolina Reston, Isabell Caro, sisters Luisel and Eliana Ramos. And it’s not just fashion models—the end of the aughties brought weight-obsessed stylist Rachel Zoe’s anorexic clients into vogue, including Nicole Ritchie and Mary Kate Olsen.
And yet even after high-profile deaths, anorexia runs rampant, encouraged by a media that seems to despise women’s flesh, and we're also seeing an overgrowth of pro-anorexia (pro-ana) Web sites and Tumblrs encouraging young users with thinspo—”thinspiration”—images. As though we should waste away into simply not being.
But even those women who aren’t pressured into this cultural ideal of rail-thinness are roundly criticized by the media, which on slow news days apparently decides to erupt in attacks on women who aren’t trying to fit into the tiny-frame paradigm. Gossip magazines operate in extremes, and tend to flog the women responsible for selling their titles.
Take Kim Kardashian, a woman whose personal life appears on gossip blogs and in magazines literally daily, owing to both her own reality show—she’s made a fortune putting her business on front street—and to the fact that she’s glamorous, gorgeous and wealthy. Widely regarded one of the most beautiful women in the world, she’s also renowned for her curves (and is also subject to speculation that she’s had ass implants). Despite the media’s thirst for hyper-skinny women, men around the world regard Kardashian as a physical ideal, and it’s not rocket science to figure out why. As Psychology Today reported a couple of months ago:
A woman's figure is a hallmark of her fertility, they argue, and men subconsciously know it. Researchers have documented a widespread, magnetic male attraction to a waist-to-hip ratio of .7—the classic hourglass. An eye-tracking study last year found that men start to evaluate a woman's hourglassness within the first 200 milliseconds of viewing, which, based on my pedestrian observations, seems slow.
Not that eating disorders have anything to do with men; they rarely do, and are in the DSM as such. But that evolutionary reinforcement is evidence that the media is inventing its own firestorms against women who are healthy, successful and gorgeous, for body-shaming sells magazines. So when news of Kim Kardashian’s cellulite makes the covers of People and Us and the like, it’s meant to give women one more thing to feel bad about.
Here’s how some of the world’s most beautiful women have been harangued for their weight—and what they did about it.
1. Kate Upton. This is the most recent example of body-shaming, and one of the more ridiculous. Kate Upton is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, and is presently on the cover of men’s magazine GQ accompanied by the caption “The Newest Reason to Love Your Country.” She’s also got a fashion shoot in the latest issue of US Vogue, whose editor Anna Wintour is notoriously disdainful of curves (and breasts). And yet the blonde bombshell was recently called out on the Web site SkinnyGossip for walking in a swimsuit runway show “like there’s a buffet at the end of it.” The blog also called her a "squishy brick,” “lazy” and “lardy.” Jezebel’s Jenna Sauers, a fashion model herself, wrote: