I sometimes think the world has gone mad. Yesterday’s headlines were scattered with the news that former Conservative MP Edwina Currie had called a size 14 model, who may I add is apparently 5’9 according to her Wikipedia profile, was ‘obese’ and is apparently glamorising obesity amongst women.
Maybe I’m alone in my thinking, but to me, Ashley Graham, who has recently gained a lot of high profile modelling jobs and has become the first ‘plus size’ model to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated, is anything but overweight.
Edwina Currie caused a furore on the internet after appearing on the UK’s BBC Breakfast programme to discuss the days newspaper headlines. The former health secretary came across an image of Graham and stated that whilst she did not know who the model was but that she considered her to be a bad role model for women, and that her being on the runway was just as bad as a size zero model walking the catwalk.
Her point, with regards to unhealthy body images on both ends of the spectrum, is valid. However, a number of people who have been commenting on this story, including myself, have been left shocked by her comments on Graham’s figure.
I encourage you to go and search for Ashley Graham now if you haven’t already seen what she looks like. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but when looking at pictures of Graham something that doesn’t come to mind is her being overweight. Curvy, yes. Fat, no. Being curve and having natural curves is nothing to be criticised for, and is quite frankly completely different to being overweight as Currie seems to believe. I thought natural, womanly curves were something to be embraced by women and admired by others, but apparently Currie didn’t receive the note about this.
Calling someone who is fit and healthy, naturally curvy, a size 14 and taller than the average woman is not promoting positive body image. If anything, it’s making women who have a similar stature to Graham worry that they are overweight and unhealthy. Perhaps Edwina should take into consideration that what is deemed a ‘healthy’ body weight changes from person to person depending on other body measurements, with height being one of the key players in this.
As I’ve already intentionally mentioned twice, Graham is tall for a woman and like most models stands at over 5 foot and 9 inches. There is no way she could be so publically, and cruelly, classed as obese. For me personally, size 14 is not obese whatever your height or body shape, particularly when the average woman living in the UK is between a size 12 and 14.
The body shaming of Graham by Currie is just as bad as naturally skinny women being accused as being underweight or anorexic. The world needs to stop slamming women who are naturally skinny or curvy, who are fit and healthy, who look after themselves and who are at a healthy weight for their height. There is a stark and obvious difference between these women who are actually living with eating disorders and who are clinically overweight and underweight. It’s disgraceful that in this day and age, women who are naturally a certain size and who look after themselves are being made to feel negatively about how they look. The same can also be said of women who may be living with an eating disorder. Instead of criticising these women or bullying them for how they look, they need support and help to make sure they aren’t damaging their bodies and their general health.
When I read Edwina’s comments yesterday morning, even I began to feel bad about my body shape. I’m 5’10, almost 5’11 with a clothes size of 12-14. I have a healthy BMI for my height and weight, and I regularly exercise and eat a somewhat balanced diet. Hearing what Currie had to say about Graham’s body at first made me feel upset about my own weight, and a number of questions of self doubt began running through my mind. Thankfully I have a rational mind when it comes to these things, and after a few moments of panic about my body shape I managed to see past the cruelty of the former politicians words and saw that she was simply being ignorant towards this models curvy and womanly figure.
I hope her words will not lead to women with curvaceous figures believing that they are overweight and putting their health at risk. Only you know whether or not you are fit, healthy and looking after your body with care. No ones comments define your shape or weight, no matter how rude or cruel they are. Embrace the fact that everyone looks different and that no two women look alike. We’re all different, and it’s about time the world started to appreciate natural, healthy women, no matter how slim or curvy they may be.