Beauty Redefined Blog

Weight, Size and Media Lies: The Numbers Don’t Add Up

47

 

magazinesWe’ve all been duped. After years of TV watching, magazine reading, advertising exposure and media dominating our worlds, too many of us have internalized sneaky media lies that normal, average and regular, healthy women all maintain a weight of about 100-125 and wear between a 00 (yes, that’s a double zero) and a 4. Those are the only numbers we ever hear. Everything else is kept top secret, as if weighing more than 125 at any height is a horrible shame to keep locked inside or to be reserved only for grim “before” stories of extreme body makeovers. 

Celebrities tend to keep their weight/size stats on the down-low for the most part, but occasionally we are hit with some numbers — whether written into scripts, divulged in interviews or leaked by stylists. Zoe Saldana weighs 115, as declared in a May 2013 Allure magazine headline. In the movie “500 days of Summer,” the gorgeous sought-after girl next door (Zooey Deschanel as Summer), is described as being of “average” height and “average” weight, which is listed on the screen as 5’5″ and 121 lbs. Jennifer Lopez told Vogue in March 2012 that she is “just a regular woman. I wear a size 6.” In the pilot episode of “30 Rock,” Jack Donaghy (boss man Alec Baldwin) says he could deduce anything about Liz Lemon (employee Tina Fey) from their first meeting. She says, “What? Are you going to guess my weight now?” He replies, “You don’t want me to do that” (in a threatening “you-would-be-ashamed-if-I-said-it-out-loud” manner). Shortly after, he does state her embarrassing weight … and it’s 127. 

With the help of for-profit media upheld by advertisers who make billions off unattainable beauty ideals, many of us have come to believe a very distorted picture of what it means to look like (or weigh like or fit into clothes like) a “normal” woman. Along with the idealized images of women’s bodies we see nonstop in all forms of media, the vast majority of the weights or dress sizes we ever hear or see in mainstream media are carefully selected and often distorted. They are generally in reference to models and celebrities ranging from size 00-4 (sometimes 6, and it’s usually treated as a real act of bravery to admit it), and though media makes them sound totally standard and “average” for any woman, we know that they are not representative of many regular, healthy women all over the world who often feel like abnormally large monsters when they compare their own weights or sizes to those declared by celebrities or casually thrown around in TV or movie scripts.  

The average model is 5’11” and 117 lbs (which is considered severely underweight, even according to the BMI). That does not mean every person with those stats is unhealthy, but we do know that with the exception of a few, most women would have to go to unhealthy extremes to get anywhere near those measurements. The vast majority of women we see in any form of media are very thin, not to mention digitally altered, softly lit, and styled by an entourage of experts from the roots of her hair to to the tips of her toes. But what about those female celebs who do appear to be of a more normative size and weight than runway models? Their weights and sizes should sound a lot more like the middle/higher end of the spectrum, right? They’ll make us 127-lbs-and-up gals feel less freakish, right? 

When It Comes to Size, These Aren’t Such “Little White Lies

If, by chance, the beautiful women we see in popular culture are not very thin, they often publicly profess to being a size or weight that does not seem to be reflective of their actual measurements. Take Kim Kardashian for example. (There’s no need to explain who she is at this point.) When ridiculous backlash against her body size came up in 2011, Kim blogged to her fans that she loved her cellulite and “va va voom” figure and they should embrace their own bodies. Just weeks later, she made sure the world knew that she was a “curvy size 2″ and no bigger. But Kim isn’t alone in claiming a size that seems to be much smaller than her actual self. After media controversy swirled around Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jessica Simpson gaining weight in recent years, both women set the record straight by simultaneously claiming they “loved their curves” and were very happy with their “size 2″ figures (note: this was before Jessica’s pregnancy and media frenzy over her post-baby weight). 

Jennifer Hudson, 2011

Or take 5′ 9″ singer/actress Jennifer Hudson, who told reporters in 2007 she weighed 140 lbs., after dropping 30 since her American Idol days. She said that in a sea of size 2 celebrities, she enjoys representing the “real women*” out there with her healthy figure. But after signing a contract with Weight Watchers in early 2010, she self-reported to have lost 80 lbs. total, and wears a size 4- 6. If we do the math based on what she has told the press, that means the curvy singer would currently weigh 90 lbs. (170 lbs. during Idol, 140 lbs. in 2007, -50 with Weight Watchers in 2010 = 90 lbs!) Unlikely.

Take a glance at full-length shots of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jessica Simpson, or Jennifer Hudson, and then grab a pair of size 2 (or 4) jeans. Something tells us these celebs are telling a dangerous not-so-white lie to the girls and women who adore them and who can’t help but compare their own real weights and sizes to these potentially very misleading claims. Blame it on vanity sizing or only wearing extremely stretchy clothing, but either way, publicly claiming to wear a size at the lowest end of the spectrum is significant for every girl or woman who compares that claim to her own clothing tags. 

No wonder our perception of “average” or “healthy” is incredibly skewed toward thinness and unreal perfection. Since we’ll see billions more images of women in media than we will ever see face to face, we must counteract those images with reality. Lexie and I got a glimpse of some refreshing reality freshman year of college when one of our friends (who was pretty thin-looking and very athletic) confidently and casually stated that she weighed 165. We had never heard any girl or woman share their weight that was anywhere over about 135. We never made a big deal of it at the time, but it was so incredibly informative to hear that number — that was higher than we assumed and higher than we had been taught was acceptable for a healthy girl or woman — spoken confidently, with no apologies or shame accompanying it, and from a healthy, active girl.  

What does normal look like? What do accurate weights and heights look like? For starters, we recommend looking around you. We can’t let media messages, whether in paid advertising or casually thrown in entertainment media, define “average,” “normal” or “healthy” for you. Numbers can’t do that. Numbers are so unbelievably specific to individuals and not comparable for different heights, body types, ethnicities, ages and lifestyles. Those numbers we do ever hear in media (and often from peers or family) are carefully selected, engineered to drive profits for weight-loss companies, cosmetic procedures and other appearance-related products, and also distorted to sound more like the media ideals. We can’t blame a celebrity (or any girl or woman) for claiming to be a weight or size she might not actually be, because we know very well the pressure women face to fit those ideals and the backlash that accompanies not fitting those ideals. We have a strategy for rejecting these lies, and it begins with sacrificing our reliance on the numbers: weight, BMI, measurements and clothing sizes. They are so beyond arbitrary that it is shocking. Don’t believe me? Then read my research on the BMI. Then read my research on how to measure real health and fitness. 

Still tempted to base your health or your worth or the success of your day/week/year on what jeans size you’re wearing? Then go get a pair of jeans at Ann Taylor or Old Navy or Banana Republic and get the same size/style from Forever 21 or Express or Target and see the definition of “arbitrary.” Throw away your scale, or at the very least, hide it so it’s only convenient to get to it every 6 months or so. Never calculate your BMI again, and forget whatever it told you about your health category. Buy whatever clothing size fits you properly and helps you feel comfortable enough to not picture what you look like all day long and self-objectify yourself away from exercising, eating a healthy diet and being successful in every area of life. And please, please, please don’t let your value and worth go up as your size goes down, and vice versa. The numbers we should be focusing on are the number of minutes you spend engaging in physical activity, your heart rate, your blood sugar, your cholesterol and your best friend’s phone number (so you can call her to get her on board with this whole thing).

Along with fighting media lies using our own beautiful realities, let’s institute a policy of honesty — what we might consider the best policy – particularly between mothers and daughters! One of our supporters recently shared with us that she grew up with a very messed-up perception of heights and weights because her mom always lied about how tall she was — exaggerating her height by at least 3″, which left our friend feeling “like a clumsy giant, enormous in comparison to her, and so confused why I felt so very large in comparison,” considering she was only two inches taller than her mom’s self-proclaimed height. For this reason, she says, ” I will never fib to my daughters or anyone else about how tall I am or how much I weigh or any other measurement.” Lots of us have experienced feelings of being dreadfully abnormal when comparing our own measurements to the exaggerated claims of others. We must normalize reality. We must work on taking back beauty every single day.

One of our new, true sticky notes!

Moms can do so much good in normalizing real weights and sizes by telling the truth to daughters and sons who might not get to hear other real info about bodies from media or self-conscious friends. That doesn’t mean we all need to go around declaring our dress size or weights — in fact, we would strongly recommend that you do not do anything of the sort. Regular discussion of those numbers is often not necessary or helpful for the well-being of ourselves or others. As women, we are taught to be so fixated on those numbers that they come to define us, and determine our happiness. Have you ever stepped on a scale in the morning only to see a number that was slightly higher (or lower, in some cases) than what you hoped for? Did it tank your mood, lead to discouragement or shame and contribute to unhealthy decision throughout the following day or week? Been there. Skip the scale. Your reflection does not define your worth, and neither does your weight or dress size — no matter how it compares to Kim Kardashian’s claims. 

For many more resources that are proven to assist people in recognizing and rejecting harmful beauty and health ideals, see this helpful list.

*ALL women are “real women.” Tall, short, thin, regular, curvy, large, whatever. We hate those ideas that only curvy women are “real.” The only women that are un-real are the ones that have been digitally created using Photoshop.


  1. JV
    JV02-07-2011

    One of the things that I think you need to examine is the relationship between “sizes” and clothing cost. I am betting that a size 2 of a 2000 dollar dress is larger than a size 2 of a 20 dollar dress. There is a similar phenomenon in men’s clothing (though reversed.)

    http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/2011/02/03/jenna-fischer-why-actresses-obsess-over-weight/

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined02-08-2011

      Yes! Clothing sizes are another profit-driven idea that controls lots of people’s feelings about their bodies. Excellent point. And celebs will pay huge money to have dresses designed for them in a supposed “size 2″ just so they can claim that as their dress size in the press. Such a good point.

    • vivien Armstrong
      vivien Armstrong02-13-2014

      id like to mention what i have learned so far in life..actually the more expensive a garment the smaller i have found it to be..the same with bridal gowns..i will never know kim kardashian..i do know she is perhaps 5’2…i believe that is the claim..i claim 5’3..i am probably 4’11. ms kardashian. if she has the height i think she is..may well be a size 2..not in everything..especially not tight pencil skirts..but i am not always eitherbut i am extremely busty and i am a size oo-4. please do take into consideration that there are woman who are those sizes and some ARE healthy. it feels awful to havd strangers comment on your weight if you are a healthy petite 00 or a 28. I am glad this forum exsists because i agree i am sure 98% of the time heights and weights are distorted. my husband trained at a prestigious medical school..we read an article and a woman claimed to be 5’6 130 pounds ..”my she’s heavy he said!”..WELL! i could not believe his response and set him to rights stat! it’s amazing that men think all women weigh 100 pounds!…

  2. martine
    martine03-27-2011

    if you saw J-Hud during dreamgirls she had gained lots of weight back and lots not forget that she gained about fifty pounds when she was pregnant. I think she probably weighs 130 or so now. also, bc she worked out she sculpted a body too which could make her a smaller size than her weight indicates.

  3. Danielle
    Danielle01-15-2013

    I know this is an older post, but it struck me, and I wanted to comment. I am currently 140 lbs and around 5’5″-5’6″, and I’m a size 10-12- MOST of the time. A few years ago, when I weighed somewhere in between 130 and 135 I tried on a wedding dress and it fit like a glove. When I checked the tag and saw it was a size 2, I was flabbergasted! But the reason for this was that it had an empire waist and I happen to have a smaller ribcage than typical, for my waist and hip size. (That being said, there’s no way I could EVER fit into a size 2 pair of pants. More like 8-10, at that weight). Therefore, I just wanted to say- just because you can fit into one size 2 article of clothing does not make you a ‘size 2′ (and isn’t it sad how we label ourselves a size, instead of saying we wear one?) Of course, I excitedly recounted my story of the size 2 dress to my sisters and friends, but added in how unbelievable I found it- NOT walking around professing to be a size 2, thereafter. I find it very irresponsible of the above beautiful, curvy, real ladies who think their number is what matters and seem to be relaying that to the impressionable public. I swear, if I was ever famous I would go on Chelsea in a bathing suit with ‘size 12!’ plastered on my front. Women need to know it’s ok to have curves and lumps and bumps- even stretchmarks, veins, and any thing else we might deem ‘ugly’. It doesn’t make you less beautiful. Real rules! Now if I can only peel my eyes from the magazines and award shows, and convince myself of the same, we’ll be in business. Isn’t it sad how, even though we know better, we’re so overwhelmed by the press that we’re still suceptible? One day I hope we’ll move on…

    • Jay
      Jay07-18-2013

      Interestingly, at 170 pounds I was a 10-12 at the same height. Just goes to show that weight is a terrible measurement of anything but your relationship to gravity.

      • Annette
        Annette07-19-2013

        Me too! But I have big bones and an athletic build. At 135 lbs (when I was a college cheerleader and in the best shape of my life) I wore a size 5 or 7.

        • ashley Reyes
          ashley Reyes01-22-2014

          If ur a 5 7 what is that in womens sizes is it 6 8

    • Jocelyn
      Jocelyn03-10-2014

      I 5’7”, and my weight would make most people gasp. I am very voluptuous. I wear a 34G bra, and my hips are 45” around, however, my waist is only 31”. Anything under a 32 is still considered healthy. I am well-toned enough to get guys’ attention pretty much everywhere I go. If you are still thinking I am 100-150, think higher. 160? Nope… 191! At a size 10-12, I am reasonably athletic. I am as strong as most guys my weight, even though I am a girl who does not follow a strict workout program. It is muscle and bone structure. A couple years ago, I had some stuff going on, and I did not eat for 2 months, not more than about 300-400 calories per day. I went down to 158 pounds. I could still not wear most 8’s because the diameter of my hips was too large, my waist went down to a 27, and my ribs were sticking out badly. I still wore a 32DDD bra. Some people are just not made to fit into tiny sizes. Some people look better in a 6, or dare I even say it, a 12! At an 8-10, I was underweight, low energy, the works! I am proud of my hips and bust. Guys drool over them. Why would I want to lose my curves? Don’t be ashamed, be healthy for your frame.

  4. Hillary
    Hillary01-31-2013

    I was just wondering your thoughts on the TED talk by the model? (I think Cameron?) I found it very interesting and definitely supported these ideas… she said that any picture of her was a “creation” and a “craft” and were not really her. Great post!

  5. Me
    Me07-18-2013

    Thanks for the snippet at the end ‘all women are real women’. Even though I’m approaching 30, my figure still looks 12. I sometimes wish I looked like an adult. Just because I’m short and thin doesn’t mean I’m not a real woman.

  6. Valdoria
    Valdoria07-19-2013

    Seems like the expensive size 2 is equivalent to the US normal size 8

  7. heather
    heather07-19-2013

    There is no way KK is a size 2. Maybe she was when she was 10 years old.I think that the places these self-proclaimed size 2 celebrities buy their clothes from are labeling their clothes with smaller sizes just to keep them happy. I got down to a 6 a few years ago by undereating and overexercising and then after gaining pregnancy weight I told myself I would not complain if I just got back to an 8. Why do we base our value on these abstract numbers which obviously vary from every designer and manufacturer? The celebrities who truly can wear the 0-4’s have trainers, dietitians, etc to make sure they stay that way, (or they are naturally thin). Thank you for helping to expose these lies. Activity is definiely greater than size. These numbers are so stupid but it’s not easy to not buy into it. You guys are awesome. Keep it up.

    • Anon.
      Anon.01-15-2014

      Keep in mind how short most of the listed women are. I recommend using different women as comparisons. I’d be willing to believe that taller celebrity women are more likely concealing their weights.

      I don’t keep up with the current weights of celebrities but I googled a bit. Baby weight can add quite a bit. My friend lost a lot of baby weight and lactose intolerance weight recently (she’s proud she’s under 200 now) and is 5’2″ and used to be my size a long time ago.

      Kim Kardashian is 5’3. (size 2 is definitely believable for before babies) Jennifer Love Hewitt is 5’2 (definitely could be a size 2 at that weight/height). Jessica Simpson is 5’3″ (likely a 2 before babies).

      I’ve ranged from 105-126 with varying amounts of muscle and fat. I’m currently 120 and proportionally a big butted pear at height 5’2 1/2 with size 2 pants and 0 top.

      Remember that for every inch in height there’s maybe 5-10lbs of difference. This isn’t factoring in muscle mass or bone structures. For instance my upper body and ankles have slim bones but my legs and hips are larger bones.

      Also, let’s not forget vanity sizing. When I was 105 I couldn’t fit a size 0 in some styles of some brands and had to swap to brands that ran smaller. At 126 I was a size 7. Additionally, if sizes were homogenous it would be easier to make claims.

      Big people, small people. It doesn’t matter if people are healthy. I don’t think celebrities should lie about their sizes either. However, a surprising number of celebrity women are quite short and therefore more likely to be a healthy size 0 or 2 and it’s not bad at all! If you’re 6ft and 200 lbs, you’re probably not fat or a size 2. You’re probably quite stellar, too!

      end rant

  8. Melinda
    Melinda07-19-2013

    I really love reading these articles. It gives me a perspective that I would not have otherwise. I have talked with so many friends that base their beauty on this exact thing and it just breaks my heart. I myself have weighed in between 138 and 230 pounds in my life and now because of your articles, I refuse to weigh myself and base my health and well being on a number! I’m trying to become more in tune with how I FEEL and that is making such a difference for me!

    My hope is that I can also get my friends and family to feel this same way. All woman are equally amazing and beautiful and I’m so grateful that Beauty Redefined is doing what it is/you are doing to help all of us see ourselves through a clearer lens of self love and acceptance.

    Thank you for all you do!

  9. Brittany
    Brittany07-19-2013

    This is great.
    I’ve been so confused lately as I have put on about 15lbs but all of my clothing fits the same or better. I am the same activity level (I run half marathons and do vertical pole gymnastics), and although I struggle with food I tend to eat way too little but I eat well. So why the gain? Moreover, why did I buy a pair of size 29 jeans in a brand which I usually wear a 30 or 31? Sizes and weights are so misleading. I am 5’11.5″ and I weight a whopping 190lbs. I hate that number. But if I felt equally shitty at 175, why is it better?
    Also the smallest I ever got when I was (clinically) suffering from purge type anorexia, was a size 8. And it was snug. I weighed 119lbs at just over 5’10”.
    A size 8 by Hollywood standards is rotund but I was medically underweight and starving.
    This whole thing is a farce and we need to tear down this self hate inducing paper machier and expose who’s really ugly – the industry.

    • Deana
      Deana08-13-2013

      This post could have been form me. In college I starved myself and worked out obsessively, popped diet pills, and passed out regularly – and I could still only get as small as a size 8. I was not one bit healthier at that size 8 than I am at a size 16, eating a balanced, fruit and veggie rich diet, and working out moderately 5 times a week. People act like it is the absolute worst thing in the world to be big. But for me, trying to be smaller was worse for my health.

  10. Ashley
    Ashley07-19-2013

    The lowest weight I have ever achieved is 145 on my 5’8” frame. My hair was falling out, I stopped having periods, and I was constantly hungry, not to mention exhausted from over exercising and not eating enough to recover. And I was still above a “perfect” weight on the BMI and felt like a fatty. Now, after a healthy pregnancy and a super healthy baby (who is still nursing at 17 months!), I am 175 and have never been healthier. My diet is the best it has ever been. I just finished P90X and can run for miles comfortably. This is where my body needs to be to have the emergy and strength it needs. It is so liberating to focus on FEELING and BEING healthy instead of WEIGHING what is healthy. Thanks for spreading the message. It can be hard to keep your spirits up without messages like yours to challenge everything we see out there.

  11. Cynthia
    Cynthia07-21-2013

    Maybe clothing brands should just stop vanity sizing. My measurements are around 32-24-33, so more or less a size 0 by 2013 standards. Yet, at some stores, even size 00 is a bit too big! Just because some people are bigger than they used to be doesn’t mean that brands need to psychologically make people feel happier by selling them a smaller size. Face it, on average, people are a bit bigger than they were in the 70s and are, sadly, always looking for a quick fix to lose weight/become healthier. Many don’t even bother exercising. Get on with it and get disciplined!

  12. Robin
    Robin07-21-2013

    “The numbers we should be focusing on are the number of minutes you spend engaging in physical activity, your heart rate, your blood sugar, your cholesterol and your best friend’s phone number (so you can call her to get her on board with this whole thing).”

    LOVE THIS

  13. Teresa
    Teresa07-22-2013

    Great article. Another thing that is confusing is the sizing range in different stores. For example, Old Navy and GAP have different size 2, 4 6, etc. I notice when I go to Loft I am a size 2 or 4 but at H&M I am an 8 or maybe a 6. I think it would be more realistic just to have one standard size in all those stores, maybe they are trying to make us feel “better” by lying with the measurements. But I think it does not work, it is just misleading.

  14. Justinah
    Justinah07-23-2013

    Maybe a store should come up with a non-number standard. Like, “size sparkle”, “size blue”, “size apricot”, “size daisy”. Maybe women wouldn’t feel so bad about gaining weight if their pants went from a size polka to a size iron. Just a thought. I mean, someone just came up with number sizing, it used to all be tailored clothes, so why can’t someone just make up a whole new size chart?

  15. Shelly
    Shelly07-24-2013

    I typically like your posts, but I think this one is a little rediculous and very disappointing. Not that I am a huge fan of Kim Kardashian, but it seems wrong to call her out for lying about her weight (or not being “accurate” about her clothing sizes) when you have no real evidence to base your accusation. You do realize that KK is 5’3, right? I completely buy that she is a size two and is that curvy because I am 5’2 and built like her and guess what?..I am a size 2! I exist!

    Overall, I agree with your message and cause, but i have to say that there is something deeply ironic about feeling like I have defend my physical characteristics (or the characteristics of people who happen to be built similar to me) on a site like this.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined07-24-2013

      Shelly, we totally believe you’re real! And readily admit women come in aaaallll shapes and sizes. If KK weren’t the face of a diet pill and other extreme diet products, we’d think about believing her size 2 claims. And if she really is a size 2, we’ll gladly admit we’re wrong and fix it! But the point to the post isn’t really to get hung up on any of the many examples we shared and whether the celebs are lying or not – it’s that size 2 is almost the ONLY size we ever hear in media. Only hearing about sizes under a 4 is a profit-driven construct that allows celebs to fit this status symbol and incites shame in anyone (celeb or not) that doesn’t. Sizes are totally arbitrary and vary greatly from designer to designer and even between articles of clothing of the same designer. What we really tried to drive home is that we can get past numbers and they don’t have to exert power over us, which is a major message we promote. I apologize if this post was disappointing to you!

  16. Karlie
    Karlie07-30-2013

    I’m 5’6″ and weigh 135 lbs… I wear a size four, sometimes a size five, sometimes a size seven, sometimes a size two. It all depends on the clothes, brand, etc…
    I understand the point of this message, but calling someone out for saying they’re a certain size is not a nice thing to do. You have no idea what they wear, so you’re only speculating.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined07-30-2013

      Right, we have no idea what they wear, but the only numbers and sizes we ever hear in media are 0-4, or occasionally 6. We’re simply saying that even those celebrities who really, honestly, seem like they would wear a size other than 0-4 are still claiming 0-4. Whether they’re runway models, commercial models, actresses, singers, or voluptuous reality stars, they all claim to wear a 0-4. We’re asking people to question those claims and not hold themselves to the media standard of “average” since it is intentionally distorted.

  17. Charlotte
    Charlotte08-02-2013

    I find it ridiculous and bad for young women and teenagers to lie about their cloth sizes and weight.
    Beyonce for exemple. She states being 170 tall and 59kg…NO WAY. I´m the same size as her, same body structure and for this silhouette, I weight 70 kg…If teenage girls and young women would see the truth, they would feel better about hemself…they could think “ok, beyonce is a beauty, and she weight as much as me and wear the same cloths size as me, so I must be OK”. Many girls see themself way fatter than they are, and truth could help them be more objective

  18. Jenny Block
    Jenny Block08-02-2013

    Hi-

    Thank you so much for this! The messages are mixed and scary, especially when you’re a mom of a 14-year-old like me.

    I wanted to share a blog I did about being “diagnosed” as skinny fat. Hope you don’t mind!

    http://jennyonthepage.blogspot.com/2013/07/on-being-skinny-fat.html

    Best,
    Jenny

  19. Stacie
    Stacie08-02-2013

    I am 6 feet tall. My healthiest weight is 195 lbs. I am above that right now, but I am working to get back to that weight. That is the weight where I have felt the most agile, and the the most lean. Scoff if you want, but I wore a size 12/14 at that weight. I was athletic and I felt pretty. Since I felt good there, that is where I would love to be again.
    BTW: Kim Kardashian IS a size 2…… In her bra.

  20. Rachel Whalley
    Rachel Whalley08-02-2013

    Thanks, Beauty Redefined, for this whole article, but especially for the asterisk at the end about ALL women being “real women”!

    I started a movement last year with that specific intention (see http://www.healingforgoodgirls.com/realwomen for the badge and the manifesto).
    This movement belongs to all of us and I invite you to share it widely.

    I’ll be passing this article along on my Facebook pages. Thanks again for your clarity and solidarity!

  21. Crystal
    Crystal09-09-2013

    How about we stop judging others and just start doing whatever it is we need to do to feel good about ourselves. I’m not going to feel bad that I’m a size two, and I certainly dont give a damn what size Kim Kardashian is or wants to say she is. It’s sick that you’d waste your time questioning it. Go ahead. Lie about your size. Photoshop your wrinkles right out of your forehead in Facebook photos if it makes you more confident (I sure do!). Do what makes you feel good and stop judging other women on what they need to do to feel good. This whole article mad me angry.

    Stop analyzing other women’s weight! That’s where the whole problem begins..

    • Allie
      Allie12-29-2013

      I think the message was more about how you should accept yourself for who you are, so you don’t feel the need to photoshop your pictures. There is nothing wrong with aging or gaining weight. :)

  22. Alanna, Change Panda Assistant Psychologist
    Alanna, Change Panda Assistant Psychologist10-03-2013

    Really interesting read! Thanks for this. All too often the media has such an unbelievable influence in people’s lives yet we can be blissfully, or not so blissfully, unaware of it. We can be influenced continuously, uncomfortably, but not be aware of it.
    Things need to change! It’s also important to make people aware that following the media by the word isn’t the healthiest option for both mental and physical health.
    Alanna, Change Panda Assistant Psychologist

  23. Amanda
    Amanda11-05-2013

    Vanity sizing has made the arbitrary number of a size completely useless. I am 5′ 2″ and apple shaped. I have broader shoulders, a large bust, and a pooch on my belly regardless of how fit I am. I also have no hips/butt. Though my weight has been between 108-130 lbs over the last decade or so, my pants size keeps getting smaller.

    I used to wear a 4 or 5, but now I can hardly find any pants that fit me outside the little girls department. I now weigh 120 lbs and wear a girls size 14, or 00 short if I can find them in women’s. I have a completely different size in tops. I wear a 28FF bra, which usually means I need at least a medium. I regularly get tears in the armpits if I try to wear a small because of my broad shoulders. I don’t even try to find dresses that fit. When I bought my wedding gown I had to get a size 4 and let out the corseted back so that it could latch, then take in the waist 3 separate times until it was sub-zero. I wouldn’t even have a single number I could give if someone asked me my ‘size.’

    I really hate that celebrities (or, really, any women) will not give out their honest weight. If an actress lists their weight at 120 lbs, but really is 140, a women will see that and think ‘Hey, she’s gorgeous, I should weigh 120 too!’ It just reinforces this idea that we all need a smaller number on the scale than is really achievable. If we could all just cut the bullshit and at least be upfront with what we actually weigh, it could go a long way toward fixing our body issues. I have seen many celebrities listed at 105 that have to be 20 lbs heavier. I was tiny at 108 (and had very little muscle) so when I see someone 6 inches taller, and more filled out than I am with a listed weight of 105, I rage. Saying that your number is smaller than it is does NOT change your body shape. We can SEE you. You look exactly the same regardless of what number you claim. You may as well just own it! The example of the college friend is a great one. A real woman with a fit body weighed 165. That impacted the body image of a couple other girls in a really positive way. If that same girl had claimed to be 135, you likely would have believed her and erroneously continued to think that 165 must mean you’re fat.

  24. Clara S.
    Clara S.12-04-2013

    This is a great article and I don’t care if it’s old, I’m going to add my two cents.

    I’ve always puzzled over online charts and calculators that tell me what I “should” weigh by my height, age, and weight only. It never made any sense to me because everyone in my family “looks” smaller than their weight. What should we all go by–what the scale says, or what our eyes say? Or how our bodies react? If we got under a certain weight (often heavier than what the charts say) we look ill and sickly. These charts don’t work for everyone.

    Right now I am decidedly overweight. Or I shouldn’t mince words, I’m obese. But I’m losing weight by simply eating better (no sugar!). It feels great. I’ve calculated what measurements (body size) I “should” be at to be healthy, and it’s no where near a size 4. And I’m fine with that. All I care is that I feel good and be at a weight that works for my body.

    I’ve wasted too many years feeling completely worthless, even despite having other accomplishments that *should* have made me feel some self-value. Yet I felt worthless because of my size, and sadly many other people were happy enough to encourage those feelings of insecurity. No more of that.

    “They” can’t MAKE you feel worthless, and the fact is, I learned a while ago that women who were thinner than me could be just as insecure and depressed about their appearance as I was, despite being much smaller! I had always assumed that once I reached a certain size, I’d immediately be happier and have more inherent value as a human being. But the truth is, everyone is being messed with, and we’re all being told that we don’t measure up, despite how we look.

    What I also found out was that my other accomplishments DID matter, and in fact sometimes people want to dismiss you and using your appearance or weight is a handy excuse. That way they can feel superior for superficial reasons. It’s much easier for them to do that, than to work on developing better qualities in themselves!

    I had to get that off my chest. LOL!

  25. Amanda
    Amanda02-10-2014

    I remember in 7th grade we were reading a fictional story and in it a high school boy was picking up his prom date and the author added, “All 180 pounds of her.” Every guy in the classroom moaned and a lot of the girls too. I remember thinking, “I don’t think they know what 180 pounds looks like…that’s pretty normal if you’re 5′ 8″ or taller.”

    It just so happened that I was exactly 180 pounds at that time and I remember being so confused about my size. I knew I lived a healthier lifestyle than most of my friends, but that was not reflected in my weight and height. Doctors asked me as young as age 8 if I ate a lot of ice cream, sent me to dieticians. It was awful! I remember thinking that I ate way less and healthier food than my slim sister and had the same level of activity, if not more. So why was I being singled out as unhealthy while she was seen as perfectly fine?

    Somehow I realized that this whole thing was a hoax. In college most of my roommates were a size 0-4, but none of them had healthy habits. They eat out a lot, they never worked out…I was a size 18/20 and went to the gym at least 4 times a week and made healthy eating a priority. I think at that point it was solidified for me. Size is NO INDICATION of a person’s health. A double 0 can be super unhealthy and an 18/20 can be very healthy. So who cares what size you are?! None of us should, but we have to try really hard not to. It’s a sad sad state of affairs.

    Anyway, thank you for this article. It validated what I’ve wanted to scream from the rooftops most of my life: Weight & size are not always indicative of health.

  26. Grace B
    Grace B02-27-2014

    I love your articles, but it would be great if you put the numbers in
    Kilos for all of us outside of the U.S.
    Takes ages flicking back to google constantly to try to figure
    Out the numbers!

  27. Alison
    Alison05-28-2014

    Thank you so much for this. I tell myself these things sometimes but it’s hard to believe when the only one saying it is yourself! SO good to hear it, honestly and straight-forward, from another source. I desperately needed this. Thank you.

  28. melanie Carter
    melanie Carter06-30-2014

    I kinda stopped halfway in this article. I am 4’11 inches I share with people I was 68 lbs over weight. I that is the total weight. To say someone lied about their weight loss over a period of time coul be true or not true. She may have lost a certain amount of weight at one point and quickly gained much of her weight after leaving the show. I have put on 30 pds in a matter of 2 to three months. Now I have always been happy in all my different sizes if I am healthy. But if I feel bad and have a huge weight gain I seek help.
    Now at the same time we all should love be loved and be content where we are. But if someone says they are happy at their 140 then see a problem coming on it is ok if they choose to take care of that problem.
    People should not be called fat or made fun of at any size. But I have grown up with an obess family (according to healthy medical guidlines) I an 4’11” 115 lbs average now. After I found out I have health issues I had to loose 15 lbs. I am still fluffy in the middle but that is ok. I wear clothing that covers it. I am also very short waisted. I was not huge before but I was not totally comfortable. If you feel good wear you are good. But if someone is not dont find fault if they do something about it and share their testimony. I know a lady who is really a big girl and she is beautiful! But big does not look good on everyone.
    Dont listen to hollywood or be offended by people who have made choices for themselves. If you lookin the mirror and like what you see and are healthy then that is all that matters. Who you are to others is really what matters.

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