As discussed last week, France is considering banning super skinny models from its runways in light of the link between high fashion, body image, and eating disorders. While this conversation is an advance in itself, the proposed solution will cause another problem: the marginalization of super skinny women.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave.
If one analyses the various solutions to this problem proposed in recent years, one will realise that most of them, if not all, will sooner or later yield its own set of problems. This might be because we try to treat the symptoms rather than the root cause. In this case, the symptom has been identified as body issues, and the root cause as super skinny models. But what it both super skinny models and body issues were symptoms of a deeper root cause?
It is often touted that the root cause is a perversion of the definition of beauty, which, if fixed, would eliminate body image issues and eating disorders. But what would we define beauty as? And how can we do so?
Thankfully, while beauty is subjective, broadening our appreciation of the different forms beauty can take can be a very objective affair. We can for example engage our higher thinking processes when it comes to appreciating that both a tall woman and a short one can be beautiful; similarly, a super skinny woman can be just as beautiful as a fat one.
In an era of globalization and increasing interconnectedness, we are exposed to the full diversity of the human family. But at the same time, there are certain extremes that defy conventional norms of health and hygiene. Again, our higher thinking processes can help us separate subjective appreciation of beauty from objective concerns, mostly related to health.
When one defines life as a temporary opportunity to develop virtues in preparation for the next world, the human body is further released from the narrow definitions of health currently ruling it. For the human body becomes our most important tool in fulfilling our purpose in life. While we would still notice the beauty of a symmetrical face, of a graceful body, or of fluid limbs, we would also notice the beauty of any body enabling its owner to develop its soul.
We would also make a body’s health a priority above that of size, shape, colour, etc. We will go beyond accepting all body types; rather, we will focus body. And we will be able to appreciate all body types, from super skinny to super fat, as vessels of our true nature: our souls.
What would modelling look like in such a society? I would like to believe that current women walking the runway will be joined by models of different sizes, shapes, colours, etc. I would also like to believe that they will all be even more beautiful because of the joy they will be emanating—a joy only those who are fulfilling their life’s purpose can emanate.
First published on 2 April 2015 on Sahar’s Blog.