Saturday, April 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Thigh gap or booty? The choice is yours.

Through the ages, women have had to choose a path at an inevitable life crossroad. In more classic times the choice would have been between Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. At today’s crossroad she chooses between icons such as Keira Knightley and Adele. The question of what makes the body beautiful has shaped throughout history a careful sketch of opposing traits of feminitiy, personality and more worringly inner conflict. The path that she chooses defines how she views female beauty and will ultimately contribute to the creation of a standardised definition of beauty. Shakespeare was wrong to ask ‘to be or not to be’ but rather a more accurate (and useful) modern translation would be ‘to be thin or not to care’. I don’t think I’m making a ground breaking discovery when I say that body image has become an obsession within our society. Lets face the facts, it is the motivational force behind 80% of what we do in our daily routine: to gym or to swallow that chocolate cupcake? Sweatpants or those really tight Levi Jeans? Every little action in a woman’s world can be traced back to body image and the way she presents herself. Seems quite daunting when you think about right? This crossroad within society’s pyschologic makeup is what causes this allocation of great significance on the way women define themselves in terms of their body’s appearance.
Nowadays women are confronted with opposing views of what is considered to be feminine, sexy and most importantly, beautiful. Their presentation of beauty choices takes almost the form of a menu; you can opt for a Kim Kardashian look, vulumptious and curvy with an additional side of plastic surgery, ehm, everywhere. Or for her sister’s Kendall Jenner look (thought I would keep it in the K family), tall, sleek and yeah basically no separation between bones and skin.
Personally, it makes no difference to me if a woman wants to embrace the curvy or slim style of life. But rather my interest lies in how once one takes a particular side it is almost as if she is ‘morally’ obligated by her fellow team mates to put down the alternative team. Am I the only one who has noticed this? Even by merely describing their own personal decision, a negative attribute is automatically attached to the opposing ideology of beauty. ‘I like a curvy body, it’s a healthy mental lifestyle’, um hello skinny people can be mentally stable too. ‘I want to have the high fashion skinny look’, yeah people with a few extra pounds and a few inches short can be fashionistas too. We all have that one friend who comments ‘ugh, she’s too skinny, guys don’t like that you know’ or on the opposite side of the spectrum ‘haha she can’t afford to wear that crop top, does she not own a mirror?’. Yes this sounds a bit like a sequal to mean girls, and sadly it’s the truth. Both views on preferred body image thrive on diminishing eachother. In Meghan Trainors ‘All about the Bass’ is a perfect example of the point I am trying to emphasize. She starts of by saying ‘yeah my mama said don’t worry about your size, boys like a little more booty to hold at night…. You know I won’t be no stick-figure solicone Barbie doll’- clear as a crystal: a self confidence boost supported by attacking the opposing ideal. My question is, why the constant unconscious battle between the two styles?
Another reason as to why women are so obsessed with body image is of course (prepare to be shocked) because they try to fit into what they believe is the opposite sex’s desire (not necessarily ‘opposite’ per se). Statements commonly vary from the traditional ‘but boys like a booty’ or ‘darling, men don’t want to have skinnier legs than their girlfriends’ when friends try to unconsciously push down another friend’s throat their crossroad choice. Which of the two statements is true? We shall never know. This is because, shocking as it may seem, we share with the male species a common element of individuality. In other words, all men are different just like us women. Not all find the same thing attractive, So instead of trying to fit into the allusive girl fantasy, fit into your own ideal image. We seek after a perfection that ultimately does not exist. Ok now I’m going to sound extremely clichè but women have to get into their heads that they cannot base their whole life on what they think their partner wants, especially those ones that haven’t even met them yet. Instead of alternating your look based on your imaginary boyfriend’s ideals , remember that the only person that really matters is (here it comes) you. Hepburn’s seductive yet innocent glare challenges men whilst Monroe teases them by tacfully placing herself over the air grate. In their world they are the ones who matter, so why do women not take this path at the crossroads. We need to stop restricitng ourselves with boundaries of what we think society depicts as outer beauty perfection. The resolution to this ever persisisting historical conflict of body image is one: individuality. Nobody’s opinion truly matters but your own, in the end it’s your body, your self presentation, and most importantly: your awesomeness.