Hi there :) thank you for this blog. Can you give your take on the whole slim waist with big thighs and rear obsession? I have noticed it even in plus size tag? I have also noticed a surge in the popularity of 'waist trainers' to achieve this look.
Asketh - isoulmaya
I love this question, it’s just such a huge one because it encompasses so many different elements. There’s been a lot of research that looks into the historical trends of the “ideal” female body shape, because this hourglass figure hasn’t always reigned supreme, but it’s tough to nail down specific reasons for why our society currently values the small-waist-big-butt shape. If I were to narrow it down a little:
1. It’s a sign of youth, wealth and privilege. Only a small portion of the population is going to have this sort of figure, thus making it a status symbol. It shows that you can afford a healthy and balanced diet, you have enough spare time to exercise regularly, you can afford medical treatment and supervision, and (if you aren’t naturally prone to the hourglass shape), you can afford professional intervention in the form of surgery or fitness products. Not everyone can look like this, and that’s exactly what makes it so desirable.
2. It’s therefore a sign of Bootstraps. Women are supposed to work hard to maintain their bodies and appearance. Since the hourglass figure is commonly associated with a strict diet and exercise routine, we therefore believe that the only people who look like this are the people who “deserve” it because of their hard work and dedication. This belief lets the people on top of the hierarchy feel smug and satisfied with their position while looking down on all the undesirables below them, while the masses are told that their inferior social position is their own fault.
3. It’s uses strength as an excuse to exert control over a woman’s body. Notice how most #fitspo is framed in a way that encourages women to exercise solely so that they can become more attractive. Squat rhetoric isnotorious for this. Women are constantly told to get active, but only if we don’t get bulky. If you dare to get too strong, you no longer represent the ideal #fitspo image. You become too masculine/muscled/big to represent the sort of dainty and sexually available aesthetic that appeals to straight men. So therefore, the small-waist-big-butt image is presented as the ideal strong woman, the one who lifts weights without ever intimidating the men around her. Gee, isn’t she sexy?
But as you said, it’s not just the fitness community that’s in on this. The hourglass figure pops up throughout the plus size community as well:
4. The hourglass shape is often thought of as the Acceptable Fatty. It’s the Fat Person that is still seen as attractive (gasp!) in mainstream media, which puts her in direct competition with other fat people. She has curves in all the ~proper~ areas and isn’t carrying around a big belly like those other fat women. Here, the hourglass body represents an ideal that can still be interpreted as fat while getting many of the social advantages of thin privilege. A lot of commercial plus size models will fit into this category. You’ll often see people reference the health of these hourglass women - When bigots try to prove that they’re not fatphobic, they’ll hold up photos of an Acceptable Fatty: She might be big, but it’s okay because she’s active and eats well and isn’t 300 pounds! See, I don’t hate all fat people!
And it’s worth mentioning:
5. It’s the result of racism and fetishization. White people want the black booty without the stigma that’s attached to it. Features like a big, round ass are associated with the hyper-sexuality and exoticism of Black and Latina women. It’s a way of commodifying WOC, segmenting their bodies and turning them into objects: “You’ve got a black girl booty!” “Tiny waist like a China doll!” There is absolutely a degree of racism in the way that the hourglass figure has been promoted recently.
So in the end, perhaps the biggest explanation is:
6. The hourglass silhouette is the female shape that’s most fetishized by straight men right now. It’s painted as the feminine ideal because it emphasizes both highly sexualized regions (big tits and a big ass) while still placing value on the woman’s continued obedience (in the form of a thin waist). We as a culture value this body above all others because straight white men lust after it above all others.
——> Because I know this will be brought up - None of this means that it’s bad if you have an hourglass-shaped body, or that you’re a bad person because you’re attracted to that shape. However, you are a jerk if you think this body shape should be considered more valuable and worthwhile than any other body. The problem isn’t that people occasionally look a certain way, the problem is that one body shape is being held up as superior to others. This is a cultural problem that the fitness community tends to feed into all. the. time.
The solution here isn’t to start insulting hourglass women - It’s to demonstrate that any body is valuable and worthwhile regardless of what it may look like. We need to stop believing that one shape is inherently better than another. The Body Positive community is wonderful in this sense, since it shows that all bodies have worth. And in terms of fitness, my Reclaiming Fitspo series has attempted to show that we can still venerate athletes while placing value on their accomplishments instead of their appearance. The more we think of women as people instead of as bodies, the better.
My question to Chris Pratt for yahooentertainment's Guardians of the Galaxy cast Q&A, don't judge me! -Matt Romeo
Chris Pratt: Oh buddy, that’s really kind and I know where you’re coming from… What were you doing in February? It seems like yesterday, but that was six months ago.
If you are someone who has been struggling with your weight, all you have to do is just a few things everyday and remain consistent, and time will fly just as fast as it flies whether you are working hard or not.
If you just cut the crap out of your diet and spend an hour a day doing something physical that will make you sweat, six months will pass by and you will be doing something that will make you feel better mentally, spiritually, physically. It all is tied together.
But dude, if you get after it… you can do it. By Jan 1st of 2015, which I promise you is right around the corner, you can have made substantial gains.
The pushup is a classic exercise that you learned in middle school. But for that same reason, you’ve probably picked up some bad habits throughout the years. If you want to increase your gains, you’ve got to keep perfecting your technique. Here’s how to clean up your pushups, and crank out more reps today.
The Mistake: You only concentrate on the push.
The move is called the pushup, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the descent. “Don’t let gravity do the work for you,” says Nepodal. “The eccentric, or lowering, portion of the move builds strength, too.”
The Fix: At the top of the pushup, pretend to dig your hands into the floor by grabbing it with all of your fingers. This turns on your lats, which you’ll use to pull your chest toward the floor. Your lats are the biggest muscles in your back, so activating them not only helps with lowering, but also helps when it’s time to power up to top, says Nepodal.
The Mistake: Your hands are too far apart.
Placing your hands wide is a sneaky way to do less work. The reason: It shortens the distance from your body to the floor, says Nepodal. It also puts a greater emphasis on your chest, increasing the stress to your shoulders.
The Fix: Place your palms directly beneath your shoulders. This enables you to keep your elbows tucked close to your sides, working both your chest and triceps, says Nepodal. It makes the pushup harder, but it’ll make you stronger in the long run and save your shoulders, he says.
The Mistake: You don’t shake it out.
Muscle tightness occurs when you create high amounts of tension with load or volume. And while tension leads to strength and size gains, it can also lead to imbalances and pain if you don’t release it after the exercise. “You’ve seen the guy who does a ton of bench presses, and then walks around with his shoulders pulled forward,” says Nepodal. “The same thing can happen when you concentrate on both the lowering and lifting of a pushup because you’re keeping your pecs and arms under tension longer.”
The Fix: Perform a bridge stretch on a Swiss ball between sets. It’ll stretch out your core, chest, shoulders, and even your lats, he says. Here’s how to do it: Place your head and upper back on the ball, and reach your arms out perpendicular to your body. Let your hips sink toward the floor. Hold this position for 10 breaths.
The Mistake: Your neck wobbles.
Nepodal calls this the chicken neck. “It happens when your chest and arms are tired, and your neck juts out toward the floor.” Not only does it look silly, but it throws your spine out of alignment and increases your chance of injury. A complete pushup is when your chest, not your nose, touches the floor, he says.
The Fix: Your body should form a straight line from your head to your ankles. If a broomstick were placed on your back, it should make contact with your head, upper back, and butt. Keep your body in that alignment the entire time.