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Is Bigger Always Better?

There is a new phenomenon going on right now and it is in opposition to a previous phenomenon: big is beautiful as opposed to skinny being beautiful.

I was unaware of this new trend to put plus-size models on the runway or on the cover of magazines. I was even unaware of the TLC show Big Sexy or their wedding dress show, Say Yes to the Dress: Big Bliss.

If you haven’t watched Big Sexy, it certainly is captivating. Five big girls chasing their fashion dreams in New York City. As one girl says in the opening of the show, “Once you go big, you never go twig.” The show’s purpose is to highlight these women loving their curvaceous bodies and learning how to accept themselves in a society that is not so accepting of bigger girls.

Viewers get to witness the girls go to BBW (Big Beautiful Women) parties, where men basically have a fetish for bigger girls. You see them get asked to pay $30 to enter typical night clubs, where the bouncers allow skinny girls to enter for free. The show does a good job of highlighting discrimination bigger people experience. However, the same theme gets tiresome and old, “I’m big and I love it.”

Yeah, that’s great. But as I’m watching this show, I began wondering, “When did obese become equivalent to curvy?” One girl stands at 6’3’’ and 335 pounds. The others are not just bigger, they are unhealthily overweight. Perhaps I am insensitive. I can’t say I know what it’s like to struggle with my weight, although I have had my own set of body issues. 

However, I have had family members and friends struggle with their weight and it’s painful to watch. Some of the weight problems were often associated with a thyroid problem (an issue addressed on Big Sexy). Some of those weight problems were mostly by choice. It wasn’t until one of my family member’s doctors told him that he was at risk for Type 2 diabetes that it started to settle in that his health problems were a result of poor choices he made. He used to joke about his weight and even just started to accept that he was fat. After the health scare though, he took responsibility for his health and no is no longer at risk for diabetes.

I believe shows like Big Sexy can serve a purpose to help people not a size 2 love themselves. I also believe that these shows can be harmful. Accepting your body type is one thing. Accepting an unhealthy weight is another. This goes for people who are not meant to be a size 0 or meant to be a size 20. The trend to accept an unhealthy weight or lifestyle, in my opinion, is damaging and dangerous.  

In society, we have the notion that just because someone is skinny means they are healthy. That is not my message I am trying to get across.

Studies have shown that thin people can be “skinny-fat”. Meaning, some skinny people don’t have to workout because they are naturally thin or only maintain their weight through diet, which can still predispose them to diabetes or heart disease.

And while people can be genetically predisposed to being obese, the Center for Disease Control put out a study that says we can manipulate our genes by making better choices for our bodies. It doesn’t mean people predisposed to this “fat” gene will be a size 2. What it does mean is that they can take control over their bodies and still have a healthy and long life. With statistics showing that obesity has increased 214 percent since 1950 in the U.S. and that two out of three people are overweight or obese in 2010 I have a difficult time believing that most people who are overweight is due only in part of their genetics.

Instead of children spending time outside playing catch with their friends, they sit in front of the television playing video games. The fast food culture has increased exponentially with more than $6 billion spent on fast food in the U.S. annually. Long gone are the days when family dinners involved cooking with whole ingredients. Also, we rely heavily on our cars to get around. For countries where walking is a way of life, obesity rates are low. For instance, in Sweden, 62 percent of people walk or bicycle to their destinations and only 9 percent of the population is obese. 
    
The belief that there are only two body types, fat and skinny, needs to fall to the wayside. We all have different body types. Shows like Big Sexy try to show that you can have a happy and fulfilling life and love yourself no matter what your size is. With obesity at such a high and alarming rate, I believe that these women would actually show themselves more love for their bodies if rather than just accepting they are fat, to take care of themselves through diet and exercise. Studies have even  shown that people who exercise are generally happier.

No matter your size, show your body respect and love by eating right and exercise. This will do more for your self-esteem than just accepting being unhealthy. Every different body type needs love and nourishment, from the inside and out.

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Don’t forget to follow Anya Alvarez on Twitter @anyaalvarez and continue this conversation there!

 
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