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  • Writer's pictureKathleen Choe

On Beauty

How do you define beauty? Our current culture seems to define beauty for women in particular as very slender and youthful. In fact, our present definition of “beautiful” is probably more narrow than it has ever been in history. The “00” slim, angular, pre-pubescent figure that walks the runway today is a far cry from the voluptuous, curvy figure favored by painters of the Renaissance era. Other cultures are much more accepting and forgiving of the wide range of figures women naturally have. One of my clients lamented recently after a trip to Africa: “I wish I could have stayed; everyone there thinks I am so slender;” being thin in Africa indicates a life of poverty and manual labor while in the Western hemisphere we struggle with simultaneously having more access to rich foods than ever before while being held to a standard of beauty that requires us to forgo actually consuming any of this abundance available to us.

Diets appear to be the only product still on the market with a 92% failure rate because we believe in them; believe in their power to deliver us the confidence we think only a slender body will provide. The way we dress and accessorize strives to communicate that we have a personal style, a confidence derived from wearing “the right fashion” and sporting the “right body” instead of expressing the individual genetic makeup and personality that we were born with. In order to sustain life, both for ourselves and any children we may bear, we need some fat on our bodies, particular in the areas designed to carry and nourish our offspring: our breasts and bellies. When did it become “ugly” or unacceptable to carry fat in these areas? When did we decide “beauty” was synonymous with “sexy” was synonymous with “thin?”

How are we going to support a healthy, strong body image for our young girls and adolescents that frees them from a lifetime of dieting and deprivation and potentially eating disorders? How are we going to communicate to them that their bodies weren’t designed to merely pleasure men, or whoever else might be looking, but that their bodies were created to carry them where they want to go, to think and breathe and love and explore and design and create and build and grow and be glorious!?! How are we going to change the conversation?

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