I’m Judging You – A Perfect Body that Proves there is No Such Thing

In her article9 ‘Perfect’ Female Bodies That Prove There’s No Such Thing’, Huffington Post journalist Renee Jacques summarises the dilemma faced by the twenty-first century female:as a woman living in a media-saturated world, you will basically be told to attain a slim body that is both toned and curvy, like that of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.[2] The ‘perfect female’ of the report’s title is represented by the hourglass bikini body, which over the past decade has become a cultural beauty imperative.

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Throughout the noughties, young women appealed to ‘thinspiration’ for advice on how they should look.[3] Instagram was their Bible and the thigh-gap their ultimate goal. Recently however, the concave-stomached model has developed muscle. Dedication to the squat rack has produced rounded legs and glutes; while a few surgical incisions have endowed even the leanest of figures with full, pert breasts. In 2015, the ‘bikini body’ has become the ideal to which women must aspire and ‘fitfam’ its online cult.[4] Yet, with its confounding combination of fleshy curves and lean muscle, this new ideal is even more unattainable than its ultra-thin predecessor. As was the case with the diminutive form of the ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ era, striving to attain the ostensibly ‘healthy’ fitness model physique causes serious damage to mental and physical health.

 

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The culturally popular bikini body is epitomised by the Bikini division of fitness and bodybuilding competitions. This category emphasises an hourglass figure comprising a curvaceous upper and lower body, offset by a narrow waist. These criteria are outlined in Muscle and Body Magazine: ‘[i]deally, a Bikini competitor wants to achieve an hourglass shape, with developed glutes and shoulders. This achieves the illusion of having a tiny waist and a long, lean torso.’[5] Use of the term ‘ideally’, however, calls attention to the unrealistic nature of combining ‘firm muscle tone’ with ‘a curvy silhouette.’[6] Despite being antithetical elements, slender and curvaceous are Bikini class requirements within the majority of federations. Pure Elite Competition, for example, states that models ‘should be lean with muscle tone and low body fat’, yet contradictorily also have a ‘”softer” physique with natural curves.’[7]

 

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With its impossible dimensions, this ‘bikini body’ is an artificial creation, yet has sadly become the impossible standard against which women are both judged, and judge themselves.

 

 

[1] Susie Orbach, Bodies (Profile Books: London, 2009), pp.7-8

[2] ‘9 ‘Perfect’ Female Bodies That Prove There’s No Such Thing’, The Huffington Post, Renee Jacques http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/perfect-female-bodies-no-such-thing_n_4726196.html [accessed 18/01/15]

[3] Definition of thinspiration

[4] Definition of fitfam

[5] http://www.muscleandbodymag.com/whats-the-deal-with-bikini-contests/ [accessed 03/01/15]

[6] http://www.muscleandbodymag.com/whats-the-deal-with-bikini-contests/ [accessed 03/01/15]

[7] http://www.pure-elite.com/model-categories/bikini-babe/ [accessed 02/01/15]

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