Body size politics

SHARE   |   Sunday, 21 December 2014   |   By Keitebe Kgosikebatho
Body size politics

Some lady was once forced to bear a verbal onslaught from a security officer at the Parliament buildings.  The officer was of the view that the lady was not appropriately dressed because she was wearing slags, that  he said were rather too tight, but surprisingly one  lady had just passed before the same officer wearing the exact type of attire and had not attracted the same attention. Asked why he did not take issue with that, the officer bluntly told the lady that unlike that other lady, she was on the heavier side, her full figured body according to the officer would not sit well with the male Members of Parliament.
The above example is just one of the many untold stories and injustices that full figured women, despite the liberation of women, and society starting to relent on how women should dress, somehow most people still feel there is a certain way plus-sized women should dress. While it is acceptable for slender or slim women to dress whichever they want, sometimes exposing too much flesh, full-figured women get called all sorts of names and are critized for exposing the society to ‘soft pornography’.
The media has not made it easier on full figured women either. It has been accused of presenting and imposing the idea that thinness in women represent beauty, attractiveness and sex appeal. Exposure to media portraying the thin ideal of beauty has emerged as a cause of body dissatisfaction.
The thinner the woman, the more acceptable for to her to wear garments that would otherwise be viewed as distasteful by many. It is quite common that one would see small size women wearing shorts, mini skirts and dresses in malls and other public areas without raising eyebrows.
Thin-ideal internalization can lead to an array of psychological problems, including poor body image, dissatisfaction with one’s body, and severe dieting. This can lead to even more serious problems, such as people developing eating disorders like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. By better understanding the causes of thin-ideal internalization, it is hoped that eventually, people will be able to prevent the development of these disorders.
Some plus sized women have however taken it upon themselves to embrace their curves, and disregard what has come to be viewed as right, beautiful and attractive. They have become so comfortable in their skins to an extent that they can now expose as much as the skinny ladies do, and of course they get criticism and support from a few liberal minds.
Local Poet Berry Heart recently received the wrath of the public, after she graced the 6th annual Botswana Music Union (BOMU) awards in a wearing a gown that exposed most part of her behind. The poetess received negative comments, though some argue that the critism was leveled at her because her dress was to some people not lady-like or what could be termed acceptable by the society.
But going back to the thin ideal argument, not one but many American famous stars (Toni Braxton and Halle Berry) wore the same dress Berry Heart wore and were hailed by many as creative and thinking out of the box. Some like the dress R & B sensation Rihanna even wore far much revealing garments than what Berry Heart wore.
Defending her dress choice, Berry Heart dismissed all those who criticized her as ignorant, and not privy to trending fashion. The poetess also explained that she wanted to inspire all full figured women and reassure them that they can be comfortable in their own skin and still look beautiful. “The dress has been worn by some American personalities before, although they looked beautiful, I think  as a full figured woman I looked even better than them, my full figure made the dress complete” she said. The 27 year old who is also Botswana’s UN Ambassador in the United Nations Creative Advisory Council was of the view that it was not fair for full figured women to be bashed for the same things that skinny women would otherwise be glorified for.

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