Beauty Standards Are Bullshit

17 Mar

You’ve probably heard that Marilyn Monroe was a size 14.

Or a size 16, or a size 12, or a size 10, depending on who you ask.

Whatever number someone quotes you, the message is always the same: our standards of beauty have changed, and not for the better. The women whose bodies we worship now are thin and sickly, all of them suffering from eating disorders. Things aren’t how they were before, when we appreciated “real,” “normal,” “average” bodies. Our current standards of beauty should serve as evidence of how deeply fucked up our society is; we ought to return to our parents’ and grandparents’ ideals.

This whole concept is so popular that there have been a string of memes made about it:




You know what makes me say fuck society? The fact that we think it’s totally cool to compare two women and declare one of them the champion of sexy. Because you know what’s super empowering to women? Telling them that there’s only one right way to be.

Beauty standards in the past maybe have been different than today, but that doesn’t mean they were better. They still offered a narrow, rigid idea about what made a woman attractive, and anyone who didn’t fit that ideal was not good enough. Why do we have the idea that the past was some kind of magical time when women had it easier in the looks department? Because let me tell you something: when it comes to their appearance, women can never, ever, ever fucking win. They’re always too old or too fat or too thin or too tall or too short or some combination of the above. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about now, or fifty years ago, or one hundred years ago, the story is always the same: women can never win.

I see people swooning over shit like the picture below, and I want to tear my hair out with frustration.


This is not some kind of revolutionary fat-positive advertisement; It’s the same old shit we’re being sold day in and day out, just packaged in a different way. Stuff like this isn’t so very different from all the diets pushed on women today – both are ways of making women feel bad for whatever size they are. Both are ways of making money off of women by encouraging them to feel that their bodies are wrong or inadequate. Shaming one body type in order to promote another is never acceptable, no matter how you do it. There should never be a right way or wrong way for a person to look. All bodies are good bodies. I seriously cannot emphasize that enough.

All bodies are good bodies. All bodies are real bodies. All bodies are worthy of love and respect.

And if I hear one more person talk about how much “healthier” women looked in the past, I’m going to start flipping tables. You can’t tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them. There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding that fact, so let me repeat it: you cannot tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them. Unless you are someone’s doctor, unless you have run extensive tests and made note of their blood pressure and their iron levels and their thyroid function, you have no idea how healthy another person is. This applies to all people everywhere – you have no way of knowing if a fat person exercises or eats vegetables just by glancing at them, and you can’t tell if a skinny person has an eating disorder based on the circumference of their waist.

I’m not saying that our society’s obsession with skinny women is anything other than problematic –  the recent spike in eating disorders can almost certainly be attributed to how pressured women feel to be a certain size. We’re obsessed with thinness, and that obsession permeates nearly every aspect of our culture, from how food is branded and marketed to us, to “vanity sizing” in clothing, to every headline ever in women’s magazines promising to tell you how to lose weight, how to keep the weight off, and which celebrities lost their “baby weight” the fastest. Our attitudes towards weight and size are actively harmful to women, and I seriously cannot overstate my concern about girls and young women growing up in this climate. I think we’ve only just started to see the detrimental effects of our infatuation with thinness, and unless a major societal sea-change happens, things are only going to get worse.



None of this means that we should be criticizing thin bodies, because all bodies are good bodies. Some people are naturally quite thin, and making comments about how unhealthy they look is pointless and hurtful. And if someone genuinely is unhealthy? If someone has an eating disorder? How do you think they will end up perceiving their comments, when their disease is warping how they view body size in general and their own body in particular? I can promise you that any remarks you make will do them more harm than good.

I would wager that all women feel fucked up about their bodies, and sometimes tearing down another body shape (especially if that shape is the status quo) in order to build yours up can seem like the fastest and easiest way to make yourself feel better. But seriously, you guys, we have to get out of this cycle of putting each other down, criticizing each others’ looks, and making each other feel bad. The best way to fight the patriarchy is to stand united. The best way to empower ourselves is to celebrate all body types. The best way to fuck with beauty standards is not to change them, but to do away with them all together.

And the best, most feminist thing that we can do is to love ourselves just as we are and refuse to let anyone profit off of our insecurities.

130 Responses to “Beauty Standards Are Bullshit”

  1. natsera March 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    I appreciate your advocacy for women’s rights to be themselves. I’m not fat, but I have an apple shape, and I am so tired of the media all talking about how unhealthy that is. Like as if I had a choice where my body stores its fat. I would like doctors to care for me without mentioning my weight or shape, and just accept that I’m shaped according to my genetics, and not anything I do. Blame for having the “wrong” genetics is so counterproductive.

  2. SG March 18, 2014 at 4:20 pm #

    I know someone trying to change beauty standards… #rawbeautytalks

  3. The British Asian Blog March 18, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    From a guys point of view – you have hit the nail on the head here. Honestly speaking – skinny girls are no turn on. It’s like jumping on the bandwagon and saying “oh yeah, I see how fit she is” knowing full well (and as you put it) she looks thin and not attractive at all. I think people need to believe in themselves again. The idea that thin people represent fitness and being healthy is load of rubbish – a media and marketing spin.

    • Brendan McGovern March 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

      I think you missed the point. Saying skinny body types are unattractive is equally detrimental. We need to be accepting of all types.

      • chukchashaman May 21, 2014 at 10:40 am #

        Accepting and tolerant of all types is one thing – though if someone has an unhealthy lifestyle and a body problem it does not good to pretend it does not exist. However, that doesn’t mean it is wrong to find some bodies, faces etc more attractive and “sexy” than others. For nearly everyone who likes women, there will be sexier and less sexy ones – just as I imagine everyone who likes men has their turn-ons and turn-offs.

        Saying that you have preferences – as long as it is done with a modicum of good taste and without making yourself to be some kind of authority that you are not – is and should be acceptable. It becomes a problem when we either start forcing our views on others or harassing the people who don’t meet our criteria.

        Again: it is certainly good to be accepting and tolerant of different bodies, but we cannot and should not force ourselves to be equally attracted. We like what we like.

    • Kelly March 18, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

      Next time try reading the article and not just glancing at the pictures.

      • Heather March 19, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

        I kinda too though felt the author was being slightly condescending by posting pictures and saying “When did this (Showing very thin bodies) Become more attractive then this (Showing slightly more curvy bodies)” I felt that the author totally slammed the “Thin” and then threw the -“But”-“None of this means that we should be criticizing thin bodies,……..etc…….” in there towards the end for recovery…. I was not going to say it, but I will. I find it a very angry and insecure article… sad. No one really judges us more then we judge ourselves.

  4. Meggy Howard March 18, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    You should preach this to teens…not just teens but everyone else too. But I find teens always stop eating just to loose weight and I hate it…you should love the size you are. I dont always love the size I am but I do 90% of the time and I would never go on a diet or stop eatin and make my self ill….all ive goto say is amen to you…you are such a role model!

  5. stagebhsec March 18, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    Very nice piece, on an important topic. Shifting the judgment from big girls to slim ones treats a symptom, creates a whole host of new problems, and doesn’t reach the root of the actual issue: which is that inflexible beauty standards are toxic no matter what. Body type shouldn’t be a basis for critique.

  6. Jacki March 18, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    I’m thin and I have people stare at me, ask me why and even had a man grab my upper arm and proceed to tell me “I should eat a hamburger”!

  7. Amy Luna Manderino March 18, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    This article throws the baby out with the bathwater. While I agree that evaluating women for their sexiness as heterosexual MEN see them is not helpful, we also let women down when we embrace “all bodies” as “good bodies.” Severely overweight or underweight humans are more susceptible to serious health conditions. That’s not a judgment. That’s simply a statement of fact.

    • Kelly March 19, 2014 at 6:50 am #

      There is no reason to ridicule or make ANYONE feel bad about the size they are. Many people in this world could be healthier, for various reasons, but it is not our job to make sure there’s some sort of societal standard that upholds one definition of healthy. Why do you feel such a strong need to define “good” bodies versus “bad” bodies?? Think about that.

      • Josiah March 19, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

        She wasn’t ridiculing anyone. She was pointing out the fact that being overweight or underweight comes with health problems. It isn’t a “definition” of healthy. You either have heart disease/diabetes or on the flip side you have anorexia and mental health issues due to lack of proper nutrition or you don’t have them. It isn’t a societal standard for people to live healthy and long lives. It is having a social conscious to care for people that are unhealthy.

      • josiah.toppin March 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

        She wasn’t ridiculing anyone. She was pointing out the fact that being overweight or underweight comes with health problems. It isn’t a “definition” of healthy. You either have heart disease/diabetes or on the flip side you have anorexia and mental health issues due to lack of proper nutrition or you don’t have them. It isn’t a societal standard for people to live healthy and long lives. It is having a social conscious to care for people that are unhealthy.

    • Zoya March 19, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

      What do you care if someone is healthy or unhealthy? it’s none of your fucking business. Some people like to eat, some people smoke, some people drink. The only reason people pretend to be “concerned” about others’ weight is because they want a reason to police people’s bodies.

      • Lila HW March 20, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

        Actually I disagree with this statement…. although i totally agree with the author…. we shouldn’t be allowing anyone to decide what is sexy….
        However, we all have a responsibility to each other. An unhealthy society, that makes poor choices, costs all of us, one way or the other. An individual can only be as healthy as the society they live in

    • Amanda Jimenez March 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Thank you.

    • Arnica March 22, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

      It is a judgment. Of course you cannot determine their health just by looking at them. Every time someone compliments me on losing weight, I want to say, “Yeah, chemo is very effective at that.” Because of course what they’re saying is that I look better now than I did when I was fatter, and they assume that feeling is shared by me and is a positive experience. If we were all walking around caring about each others’ health, I’d be smacking parents in the grocery store feeding their kids soda and crap out of boxes. The concern here isn’t for our health and never has been. It clearly lies within our sexual appeal. All bodies are good bodies in the sense that your shape is acceptable and not the most important thing about you. We were arguing beauty standards, not health. No one lets a woman down when s/he accepts and finds value in her as a person and no one needs an extra dose of the obesity/anorexia reality check foisted on them. The fact that people think their “concern” gives them the right to make those assumptions is part of the problem here. There is no getting around the fact that body acceptance in our society usually manifests as an extrinisic psychological reward that is reserved for people who look the “right” way. There isn’t a woman alive who looks at a celeb in a bikini and thinks, “I’m so unhealthy.” No, the message we internalize is that I’m fat and ugly in comparison. They’re posing in bikinis, not posting their bench press stats. Their objectification is every bit as obnoxious as ours, for exactly the same reasons. While we’re on the subject, I hate it when people use Marilyn Monroe as an example of a “normal” sexy woman because her hyper-sexuality is a direct symptom of her sexual abuse as a child and lack of self-protecting boundaries and was just another way she was victimized, often by choice. She truly slept her way to the top, intentionally, somewhat self-destructively, as this was a truth she understood. She was tortured by the conflicting need she had to be taken seriously as an actress and by the fact that using her sexuality was an ingrained way of navigating the world. She never understood that as long as she kept selling herself, all she was over going to get was objectification. This disconnect between her behavior in her Marilyn persona and her true self was the major source of her misery. She even referred to the persona as “Her.” But that’s another topic, really. . .

      • Angela July 21, 2016 at 10:03 pm #

        I hope to find your writing about Marilyn Monroe online somewhere. I am certain there is written work exploring the psyche of this iconic person, and the collective psychological perceptions that contributed to her iconic status. However, I would be interested in reading what you had to say more about the relationship between body image, our fetishization of her as “healthy,” and her relationship to her sexuality. That would be a fascinating read. I also believe she was raped the first interview she went on, as were many Hollywood starlets at that time,

    • liz June 19, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

      And you are making insubstantial suppositions about measures of health. There is little correlation between “size” and endurance, longevity and so on.

      Honestly, every time someone articulates a critique of body fascism in patriarchy, someone has to chime in with “Oh, but HEALTH!!!”.

      Defining women’s worth by their appearance is a toxic cultural trope that should be dismantled. This comment is a derail.

  8. Katherine Lambeth March 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    Reblogged this on Pure Reverie.

  9. sharonholly March 18, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

    Every time I see one of those memes in my Facebook feed I wanna scream. Great post.

  10. Arlow March 19, 2014 at 2:16 am #

    Love it! I wrote similarly about this awhile back

  11. Mocha March 19, 2014 at 3:36 am #

    Author could have said the same thing without all the expletives. Swear words are for people with limited vocabularies. If you want your article to be read, shared, and taken seriously, get rid of them.

    • laura ray March 19, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

      Sorry but ur wrong about that! Fuck is the most versatile word in the english language! And plp with limited vocabulary make up the mass majority… I dont think the author was looking for a pulitzer… the fact that someone found it necessary to point this out, is the reason we have these issues in the first place… too many plp trying to preach whats “right”

  12. Melissa March 19, 2014 at 5:58 am #

    TLDR. Got your point pretty quickly.

  13. Billy March 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    instead of aiming to be ‘skinny’ or ‘voluptuous,’ strive to be fit so that you can have better quality of life and be able to help others in the process.

  14. lexikatscan March 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on Butch Trans Blues and commented:
    Pretty much sizing and beauty are total bullshit.

  15. Catie Rhodes March 19, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    I think you make excellent points here. Though I’ve noted the change in what’s pretty, I never thought of it in quite these terms. A body is a body, and everybody is beautiful. I’ll remember what you’ve said here for a while.

    One thing I’ll say, which has no bearing on this piece, is that I read Marilyn Monroe’s size 14 (or 10) was actually closer to the modern size 6 or 8. The piece I read claimed size numbers in Marilyn’s day were different than today’s. Again, Marilyn’s actual size neither matters nor has any bearing on what you’ve written here. I just thought it was an interesting factoid.

  16. LAR Business (@LARbusiness) March 19, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    Blame Twiggy!! I remember the hubbub when she became the latest hot trend in the mid-60s. She looks much hotter now with a few pounds on her. Everyone wanted to look like her.

  17. mynarrativesandtales March 20, 2014 at 3:38 am #

    Beautiful piece of work! Its true to say that we women formulate such harassing standards of beauty and good life for ourselves (esp. in countries like India) that our life becomes a constant struggle to meet them. Perhaps, the media plays a great role in it. It is critical of world renowned beauties like Aishwarya Rai for not been able to lose baby fat and attributes accolades to others (viz. Shilpa Shetty) who have reduced to size zero overcoming the side effects of motherhood. All this is strange and ironical.. women here are under constant pressure to reduce weight.. even if it reduces the level of nutrition in their bodies! It is good to be health conscious and stay fit but imprudent to wreck our bodies to meet some eccentric standards.

  18. wildcowsofboont March 20, 2014 at 6:01 am #

    Crikey. Thank you, you wrote so eloquently about a thing that makes me want to break shit every time this fucking meme makes the rounds on Facebook. It WON’T die. But of course not because the mentality persists. And I’m all “fuck people you are NOT getting it! This is bullshit body shaming TOO! Equal and mothafuckin’ opposite!” I don’t seem to find the time to blog anymore but I saw this stupid shit on my newsfeed and was like “I want to blog about this crap body shaming because it makes me mad and I don’t know what else to do about it right now.” But then you did and said all tithe hints I wanted to but even better and more so and it was awesome and I feel vindicated, sortov. Thank you. Also, I loved your post about no-I-will-not-stop-swearing because… Yes to all of it. I mean fuck yes. Autocorrect wanted it to say “duck yes” but I’ll learn ’em yet!

  19. BGee March 20, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Marilyn Monroe had breast and chin implants, and had a nose job, as well as liposuction. Which is why she looked so different over time.

  20. Mario Savioni March 20, 2014 at 8:41 am #

    1. “We don’t know what size Monroe is.” I’ve had my Monroe and she was heavy-hipped and like a wrestler, almost broke my penis as she undulated like a meat grinder, but she wasn’t my flavor, nor of lines I have always craved regardless of the advertisements.
    2. “Our standards of beauty have changed.” Have they? I can remember Debbie Bingham, a tall, slender dark-haired woman, who moved about like a deer. It turned out she liked Brent and not me. She wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed but she was limber, contoured, delicious-looking, and healthy as a black panther. She was my taste in the 70s and remains so today.
    She didn’t care that I was a doctor’s son, who had the vocabulary of an intern at General, for I was about a foot shorter, and Brent was a foot taller and probably taller still, and he was blond, a dirty blond, mind you, but he was stronger than I was and I am sure we had our fight at some point to prove what was self-evident. I guess he figured I was a threat, probably just that I was cocky.
    3. “Not for the better.” I can’t believe that our standards have changed. I’ve always been attracted to girls, who had my mother’s svelte design, who tended to be leggy rather than breasty. I was always drawn to straight hair for some reason simple faces. And they can’t smell like something, which has happened with one woman, who had the skull of my mother and in a way her scent. It was weird. I still cannot forget her. I wait for her to come back and remain unsatisfied in the meantime. My ex-wife was of this ilk, but we had nothing in common. And another woman was as opposite, and like my wife, she had gorgeous lines, except that her size would fluctuate via an eating disorder, but the deviations would never lessen my attraction. Again, I think it was an underlying pheromone connection. I was always hungry for her.
    4. “We worship thin, sickly women, and they all suffer eating disorders.” I don’t worship thin, sickly women, except by the wrestler example, I wanted to say that in this day and age, where men are made impotent by their lack of application to the job market, to their falling into the rich-poor gap, that a smaller woman, someone, whose shoulders in his arms makes him feel stronger, is appealing, because he has no strength to control anything that this is sexually appealing, as sick as it may sound. And whether or not all of these women suffer eating disorders, we men aren’t concerned with that at the outset unless it is obvious. What I think you are missing is that the advertisers are advertising these thin, gaunt women with the point of instilling fear and hinting at death. These gaunt women convince people to go on buying binges implying we are in our last days. This may be where you are mistaking worship for desperation in women. These images are not intended to induce courtship, but purchases and commerce and women are also picking up that to win a man with money, for whom they think that they have to remain “perfect.” So, in this sense, I don’t think our tastes have changed. We want seemingly healthy and youthful partners so that we can feel as powerful as they exude power over us.
    5. “We used to appreciate ‘real,’ ‘normal,’ and ‘average’ bodies.” I think as we grew to understand that the 10 pounds photography gave us, we could diminish ourselves so that we looked good in pictures, rather than in real life, since, especially with Internet dating, we show pictures of ourselves rather than images in real life. Normal is pinching pennies, sitting at home, doing work in retail stores, not having money to go to college, etc. “Real” is the byproduct of a world, where the rich-poor gap is growing and almost everyone is being kept out and the only way to make it in this world is to use your assets.
    6. “Current standards should prove how f*cked up we are and we should return to our parents’ and grandparents’ ideals.” We cannot return to the ideas of our parents or their parents. What took one person to make in 1972 now takes 3-4 people. We crave these “ideals” because the media is making our tastes. They tell us we need breast augmentation, botox, air-brushing, etc. because these are ways to make money off the insecure. It is about commerce and quotas. This is about capitalism, not attraction, except that it becomes attraction, where such beautiful women do not pay attention to men without money or confidence. Confidence may be a characteristic that women look for because it may either be a correct indicator of someone who can make it or it is a deception of someone, who can just play a woman for a moment until he gets her and he has “won.”
    Are you getting that our ideals are commercially-implemented for the sake of making money: Tanning salons, Whole Foods, technology, a beautiful place to live, a fancy car, dinners at nice restaurants, a realm in which to have babies; aren’t these things women want for themselves and their children? What I don’t get is the desire to have children in a world that is over-populated and where our stress on the environment seems to be obvious. Why our aggression in regions where there is oil and our willingness as a nation to get this oil at all costs isn’t an idea we would rather beat back? Well, might makes right apparently. At any point when we stop to rest, we are overtaken by another country. We are always at war. We need to mate with women who will make us look good, who can help us negotiate these mined lands. We need all the help we can get.
    7. “What really pisses me off is comparing two women and saying that one of them is more sexy.” One woman is always more sexy than the other, but that is just one variable. There is a woman, who might seem to both turn us on and be someone we can talk to, be intimate with, make it through the long haul, except why would she want to be with us, we haven’t a clue. Most of us would take the woman, who can turn us on because we are afraid of being so in our heads that we can’t keep it up seeing all the stuff we have to do to make the marriage work. All of us joke that once you have kids, it’s over. All you do is work and barely see the family anyway. And then we crave the old ideals of beauty because what is now our wife is someone who looks as burly and tired as we do. There’s nothing sexual in that. Over time we see our similarities, rather than our differences, our humanity, rather than our dreams.
    8. “This says that there is only one correct way to be.” There is only one correct way to be and that is a projection of how one wishes they could be. Why would you want someone who isn’t attractive to you? There is no benefit nor reason to work so hard once the children come or something else ties you down? You want the best and you always want the best because you both want to finally rest and be secure as well as have someone who can arouse lustful passion, because such attraction is about being true and there is nothing uglier than lying about attraction. It distorts you and makes you even more insecure than you already are.
    9. “And that’s not empowering to women.” I am sure women feel as bad a men in this turbulent time. Every time a new computer comes out, there’s a new one waiting in the wings that will blow it out of the water. There are stock market fluctuations, there are wars. Everything is in a constant flux. We don’t know what is going to be attractive. We don’t know how we are going to keep food on the table, if we are going to make it to work in our used cars. It is what’s in the pheriphery of the man, who in a moment of romance is contemplating challenges.
    10. “Beauty standards in the past maybe have been different than today, but that doesn’t mean they were better.” Yes, beauty standards of the past may have been different, and that doesn’t mean they were better. I am a 53 year-old man who climbed Mt. Diablo twice by bike in less than a week, which may not have been what normal men did when they were 53, 30 years ago.
    11. “They offered a narrow, rigid idea about what made a woman attractive, and anyone who didn’t fit that ideal was not good enough.” If they offered this rigid idea about what made a woman attractive and if she didn’t fit, she was not good enough, well that hasn’t seemed to change. But, I believe that there is variation in what is attractive since men vary with whom they are attracted. My friend and I joke about women we see as being either his or my type. “Oh, you can have her.”
    12. “Why do we have the idea that the past was some kind of magical time when women had it easier in the looks department?” I don’t have that impression. Women were beautiful then as they are today and they aren’t better in bed. It is just that sometimes you find someone, who you fall madly in love with and it works out. I like so many women, the issue is not that they had it easier in the looks department. I don’t think they have any control over how they look. They just are. The magical time is everyday, every second. Women are so very provocative.
    13. “Women can never win.” As far as I am concerned once they know that I like them, and if they like me they can say so, and then it’s over. I don’t play games. They lose because they don’t take the risks that we men do. We have to put it out there and we usually get our heads shot off, which is not to say that nice women don’t also get taken advantage of.
    14. “They’re always too old or too fat or too thin or too tall or too short or some combination of the above.” I don’t think that matters because you wouldn’t want to be with someone who didn’t think well of you. That’s kind of how I date. I tell them I am interested in them and then it is up to them. I would not want to be with a woman, who wasn’t as crazy about me as I was about them.
    15. “You want to tear your hair out when you see the picture of the woman I see people swooning over shit like the picture below, and I want to tear my hair out with frustration. (The picture shows an ad for a woman who ‘was skinny’ then ‘gained 10 pounds’ and has all the dates she wants… ‘Shaming one body type in order to promote another is not cool.’” Again, why are you wasting your time. These are ads. They aren’t the real feelings of appropriate men.
    16. “All bodies are good bodies.” This is true. Every body has many, many possible mates. You don’t have to settle for less than what does it for you and likewise, you wouldn’t want someone who thought less of you or would you?
    17. “You can’t tell how healthy someone is just by looking at them…and you can’t tell if a skinny person has an eating disorder based on the circumference of their waist.” This is probably true, but I am also very concerned that you are discarding so many other factors of attraction: Conversation, interests, chemical, how tall they are, the list goes on and on. You would hope someone was healthy and generally you can tell even blindly. Here’s a good question: “So, what are you going to be doing in five years?” That one always stumps me. And the business types write me off in a second.
    18. “Women feel pressured to be a certain size as evidenced by a recent spike in eating disorders.” Yes, this is true. But, like I said, I am climbing mountains because I haven’t been at my best. I feel so much better. If my resulting physique from climbing mountains isn’t therefore making me attractive than I’ve done all I can. There is nothing more that I can do. I guess I will remain single.
    19. “I would wager that all women feel fucked up about their bodies.” I think you are correct, but as I alluded to in the first few answers, I believe as a Capitalist culture, we are highly competitive and what we look like is a variable to be considered in terms of our marketability and aren’t we all being marketed to the world? Capitalism is about worker’s bodies. We have no other means of making money except by our bodies unless we have amassed capital. Most of us start from scratch. The pretty ones are easy to listen to and look at.
    20. “The best way to fuck with beauty standards is not to change them, but to do away with them all together.” Good luck with that. Have you ever heard of Mate Selection? We are animals, social animals at that. How we look determines how we relate to others and how others relate to us.
    21. “The best way to fight the patriarchy is to stand united.” The best way to fight the patriarchy is to ignore it. The short story Bartleby, The Scrivener put the answer in one word: “No.”
    22. “The best way to empower ourselves is to celebrate all body types.” The best way to empower ourselves is to make love to people, who want to be made love to by us and to be happy with that. But, we should also find people, who make us happy too and not settle for less. There is always a point when you have to say that this person makes me happy, perhaps, if I am not happy it is because –> I am <– not happy.
    23. “And the best, most feminist thing that we can do is to love ourselves just as we are and refuse to let anyone profit off of our insecurities.” Yes, don’t buy into Capitalism’s control over what you know, which is that we aren’t perfect, but we are pretty interesting to ourselves and we need to be who we are supposed to be so that we can be happy and attract someone who sees who we should be.

    • wow March 20, 2014 at 12:43 pm #


      • 8675309 March 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

        You lost me at #5 🙂

  21. John March 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm #

    fatasses will love this article lol

  22. Arnica March 22, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    I agree with all of this, and here’s the thing: we are 51% of the population. This will stop the minute we want it to, plain and simple. When we stop the self-hatred games that play out in every dressing room, when we stop playing those games with our girlfriends and daughters, when we stop saying things like, “I don’t wear make-up for men, I wear it for me, because it makes ME feel better. I just won’t leave the house without it.” When we stop starving, plucking, implanting, douching, painting and shaving, men will still want to bang and have relationships with chubby, hairy, flat-chested, fishy, blemished women. And like it. The worst part of all this is that instead of supporting each other, we are in competition for men who we think value us only for the way we look. It denigrates women, underestimates some men, and empowers the wrong kind of people. As I said, it will stop when women want it to.

    • Paul Stevenson March 22, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

      way to go with the skinny shaming – so much for the sisterhood ay?!

    • Mario Savioni March 22, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Arnica, yes, women themselves are, in part, the cause of this. As a man, I am not willing to amass tons of money, in effect, leaving my artistic and literary preoccupations to become the man it would seem that women would like me to become. While I understand the need to be capable of supporting a family if I wanted one, certainly recognizing the right and possible desire of women to want to have children, I am just not going to compromise myself. I wasn’t meant to have children, at least in the context of present day society: Artists and writers tend not to be rich.

      Your comment about starving, plucking, implanting, douching, painting, and shaving, I just ride my bike and I get in shape and feel better about myself. Beyond that, I wouldn’t dare change my body with a knife, for example. A friend of mine augmented her breasts and now she can’t feel her nipples. That seems like a great sacrifice.

      And your comment about Chubby, hairy, flat-chested, fishy, blemished women, well there are many people who would be interested in that. Besides, those are relative terms. We like what we like. To imply, however, that such men, who are actually not attracted to these descriptors are then just going to have to like it, forgets that the issue here is changing ourselves, where it would seem that we will then miss who we might actually be compatible with because we’ve changed ourselves. I was harping on the invisible variable — Pheromones, which I believe goes beyond the physical. There were lots of women at a dance I attended recently and I was attracted to many. Some electrified me and some did not, but they were very similar physically. There are so many variables for attraction. The issue always becomes: “Well, I like you; the question is do you like me?” If the attraction is shared then you have something. If not, I don’t even bother to dance, and I mean that in the big scope of things. If someone isn’t attracted to me, I don’t bother. They weren’t meant for me. No one wants to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with them.

      Yes, women should not be thinking anything less than amazing thoughts about yourselves. We men actually love you very much. We are amazed by you, literally, at least for me, you are the only reason I care to live in this world. I wish you could see yourselves through our eyes. Not only are you better looking without trying, but you are smarter because we only think of you or do things to attract you and you seemingly couldn’t care less about us. How powerful is that!

    • Angela July 21, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

      Lol. Excellent

  23. izzy82 March 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Reblogged this on Izzy In a Tizzy and commented:
    The bellejar blog inspired me to write my own blog. Here’s one of her recent posts that I wanted to share… Read it through, it’s very compelling. I’ve always been disheartened when people shame someone who *appears* to have an eating disorder because if they do suffer from a disorder, why would we insult them for having a disorder, particularly a disorder that correlates strongly with a trauma history??? Seriously!

  24. teanhunny March 24, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

    Reblogged this on Tea n' Hunny and commented:
    “Beauty standards in the past maybe have been different than today, but that doesn’t mean they were better. They still offered a narrow, rigid idea about what made a woman attractive, and anyone who didn’t fit that ideal was not good enough. Why do we have the idea that the past was some kind of magical time when women had it easier in the looks department? Because let me tell you something: when it comes to their appearance, women can never, ever, ever fucking win. They’re always too old or too fat or too thin or too tall or too short or some combination of the above. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about now, or fifty years ago, or one hundred years ago, the story is always the same: women can never win.”

    And as hard as I may try I never win. So I do what I can. I eat healthy to maintain good mental health. I make sure to take care of myself so that I’m never left vulnerable. At some point I accepted my busty nature and wide hips, but I still struggle. Skinny or fat isn’t perfection. It’s just being you. And Belle Jar couldn’t have summed it up better.

  25. itsHEAS March 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on ramblingtons and commented:
    “But seriously, you guys, we have to get out of this cycle of putting each other down, criticizing each others’ looks, and making each other feel bad. The best way to fight the patriarchy is to stand united. The best way to empower ourselves is to celebrate all body types. The best way to fuck with beauty standards is not to change them, but to do away with them all together.”

  26. Alicia March 27, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    At the end of the day what really matters is the atittude. You can have a Marilyn Monroe type of body, or a Megan Fox type, but if you don’t have the sexy attitude your looks are nothing. That’s why there are tons of skinny or chubby girls that are hot and sexy but not because of their body but their personality.
    I think we as woman, need to focus more on the inside and work with our emotions rather than wasting time exercising and starving just to achieve a body that sooner or leater you will realize you feel as empty as before. Sexy is not the body is not being skinny or fat. Sexy is an attitude.

  27. LtTawnyMadison March 28, 2014 at 1:26 am #

    Really great points. I think the photo comparisons themselves (and the old ads), without the captions, are a great way to remind women of how subjective and fluctuating beauty standards are, in order to help us not worry about them. It’s the added captions making a judgment about which pics are ‘sexier’ which are the problem. I majored in fine art, and studying so many paintings of women throughout history gave me a great perspective on the completely subjective nature of ‘beauty standards’ – at least when it comes to body shape. (Studies show that all humans universally find certain facial features more appealing than others.)

  28. Assferar March 30, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Beauty Vs Sexy. Sexy is showing more flesh. Beauty by today’s standards can be by being sincere – Taylor Swift

  29. lonelygirl April 1, 2014 at 4:19 am #

    well done in recognising that beauty lies in recognising the diversity of body shapes that are around.

  30. Christine April 4, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I agree with Amy Manderino. The sad truth is that not all bodies are good bodies, and unless you are some kind of top athlete with a unique body shape, then visibly over/underweight is never healthy. I’m always going to be curvy, whether or not I lose a few kilos, and there is nothing wrong with my wanting to do that. At the end of the day, 2 kilos less on the scales might well be 2 kilos less gunk around my internal organs.

  31. jasmine April 5, 2014 at 7:34 am #

    its weird how people think marilyn was exy, she had plastic surgery, she was a drug addict and a whore to the white house. Yeah..real fucking sexy.

  32. lindsayjohnna April 7, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Stumbled across your blog and love your insights! YOu make really good points that most are just afraid to say. I look forward to more!


  33. gunsngirls89 April 29, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    Reblogged this on Exploits of a College Frat Boy and commented:
    YES, YES, YES!!

  34. weight loss diet chart May 21, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long
    comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Regardless, just wanted to ssay wonderful blog!

  35. Brooke June 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    You couldn’t have said it better, “But seriously, you guys, we have to get out of this cycle of putting each other down, criticizing each others’ looks, and making each other feel bad.” Women do this all the time, and men chime in to. In my field of work my body is what gets me paid, I’m not a street hooker, I’ve never been paid for sex, but I make videos on vine and I do webcam shows, modeling for suicidegirls, and I do bachelor parties. I’m out there 100% and people can be so mean and hurtful it’s disgusting. A guy made a vine making fun of me saying my BEAUTIFUL ass looks like two slabs of spam. I never did or said anything to this man, he just happened to choose me that night. I’m ready to start a big movement and I would love for you to be a part of it. I want to stop bullying, I want to go to high schools, middle schools, elementary schools (you name it) and talk to young girls and boys about the detrimental effects of bullying. I’m ready to start this movement baby, it’s been tried before, but it hasn’t succeeded. Let’s make this change. Let’s make this a better world for our kids. Thank you for your post. It was very inspiring. And the line I quoted from your post is what gets me the most, I have NEVER bullied someone or put someone down based on their looks or hustle or anything, so it’s so confusing when it happens to me… But it has to stop. I love my sexy voluptuous body, and I’ll show it off in hopes other females won’t feel so alone. Xoxo baby. I salute you.

  36. Tornado August 3, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    This essay is full of flaws and shallow thoughts. Though I believe your heart is in the right place, your ideas are not. Let me make some points.

    1. Marilyn Monroe was not a size 16 nor 12. This myth is seriously bugging me when people talk about beauty standards. she was a size 8. you can look up all her measurements and even dress collections online.

    2. “When did This become hotter than This (pic)?” it didn’t. It is generally not a good idea to portray the position you are arguing against as a caricature of what it is. That only makes your own argument look weak. Those pictures that are supposedly the beauty standard of today would be described as ugly and unhealthy by the vast majority of people. They are not the beauty standard of today!

    3. There is no universal beauty standard today and there never was. People like different things! However, almost all “beautiful” people are of healthy weight and have symmetrical faces and bodies. That is (evolutionarily) a sign of health and good genes, which brings me to the next point:

    4. YES YOU CAN look at someone and see whether they are likely healthy or not. Obese people are not healthy. Extreme non-symmetrical faces and bodies are not healthy (genetically). severely underweight people are not healthy! This is not an opinion. This is well documented and basic stuff. Stop deceiving people with this nonsense!

    5. Yes, everyone is a human being and should thus be treated as such, but that does not mean that people can’t have preferences! In this case, society is not “fucked up”, you are (pardon the language). You can think that everyone is beautiful and that is fine. But going around telling people they can’t have an idea of what they find beautiful or that their preferences are wrong is silly. It just so happens that most people have similar ideas of what is beautiful and this has both evolutionary and cultural reasons.

    6. women are not the only ones that feel bad about their bodies. lets stop making this a woman thing and start making it a “everyone has insecurities and marketing campaigns use that to sell products to both women and men” thing, ok? women do not have it harder than men. men do not have it harder than women. EVERYONE has it hard. EVERYONE has insecurities (the celebrities and models are just as insecure about their bodies as the average shmoe).

  37. aquilaspeaks August 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    Hey hello 🙂 asking if I could please do Beauty Standards Are Bullshit Part 2???

    • bellejarblog August 4, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

      Sure, go for it!

      • aquilaspeaks August 4, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

        Thanks so much. Will be sure to send you a link. 🙂
        Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone provided by Airtel Zambia.

  38. pinkpuzzlehead83 November 12, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

    What I read and what I also believe is being healty is an honorable pursuis which ultimately mean loving yourself and taking care of yourself on EVERY LEVEL. That being said we should not put a physical description onto what being healty mean. Either should we label it attractive or not. Being “healty” in our body and soul is a journey it it’s reflects on our level or energy, the light in our eyes, the smile, the glow about us and this is attractive. Confidence is attractive and can make every natural body type attractive. What I believe we need a multi dimensional look on people which mean accepting the feminine energy in us, woman and man. Feminine energy is compassion, emotion and love and intuition. Man too have these energy in them, they have been shaped differently and cut from it for so long.
    Our energy in today’s society (and it has been built this way for decennies and decennies) is extremely unbalanced between the feminine energy and the masculine. Personnally I am incapable of saying somenone is not pretty. My vision is affected by people energy and then if I am “unattracted” to some (attracted meaning wanting to connect and talk) it mostly based on their heart. We are a multi dimansional being it’s about time we understand that and connect with it.


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