Okay, so I was listening to 102.7 (on Long Island) today. I’m not sure about the name of the radio station, because ever since they stopped playing talk radio, I stopped paying attention. Even though many of the shows irritated me to no end, I loved knowing that there was a station of people talking, because it made me feel less alone in my car. And the Radio Chick rocked. I met her once, and she was really nice.
Anyway. So I was listening to the new 102.7, and they were talking about “Fat Actress” and subjective sexiness in society. I will disclaim(er?) that I really didn’t get to hear too much of the actual discussion, and the DJs themselves, particularly the woman, seemed cool enough, so my beef is not with them.
My beef and also perplexity lies with the question of whether or not a woman is sexy even if she’s not a size three. First of all, “three”? I didn’t even know that was a size! I know 3/4 is a size, but I’ve actually never heard of anyone being a size three. Two, yes, four, yes. But not three. Although I guess in “Mean Girls” there was that store “1-3-5.”
And if three is a size, I guess it is kind of nice, because it is a size up from two, which leads to my actual question/beef. At what point did size two become the new size six? When did this start? Where was I?
Growing up, I of course was an avid reader of Sweet Valley High. And at the beginning of every single book was the famous description of the twins, with their golden, silky hair, eyes the color of the Pacific Ocean, and lavaliere necklaces that laid against their golden tanned skin of their — say it with me — “perfect size 6 figures.” Even at age ten, I knew this was a very white-bread, Barbie doll image of beauty. But a size six sounded pretty good. Slim, certainly, but not necessarily skinny. And definitely healthy. They’d have to be healthy for Jessica to do cheerleading, and for Elizabeth to go on all those hikes with Todd around Seneca Lake.
But then, out of seemingly nowhere, came a line on “Popular.” Mary Cherry was running for homecoming queen or spring maiden or some such title, but of course Brooke was the favorite to win. Delta Burke was Mary Cherry’s mother, and at one point, I believe it was she who said something about Mary Cherry being a “size ten” (bad) and Brooke being a “perfect size two” (good). Either way, I remember being offended, but mostly taken aback. Because “two” was the new perfect. The new ideal.
Now, I’m pretty sure that this didn’t start with “Popular,” that the show just brought this size two thing to my attention, but it seemed like all of a sudden, it was everywhere. Sarah Michelle Gellar had “miniaturized” to a size two. Lindsay Lohan just did it a month or two ago. And although the editorial reaction to this “news” usually ranges from “concerned” to “horrified,” depending on whether you’re reading People or Star, it also often carries with it a certain awe, and before you know it, size two is the new size six.
This bugs me, and I don’t understand it. Why does everyone want to be a size two? Or why are we supposed to want to be a size two? Because, okay. There are some women who are size two or even smaller, and they look great, because that’s the size at which they are healthy and feel good. That is awesome. I am no skinny-hater!
I guess what bugs me the most about this is, for most women, wishing to be a size two will always mean wishing that our bodies were not just slimmer or healthier, but different. Not our own. And that’s just not cool. Let’s not feed into it!
So to speak.
© March 8, 2005