404 The Skinny Ideal: It Wasn’t Always This Way

The Skinny Ideal: It Wasn’t Always This Way

If you’re a woman, I don’t think I need to tell you that society values thinness. Everywhere you look, there are thin models, thin actresses, thin news anchors… it’s a not-so-subtle hint. Thin is considered attractive, and you’ve been hearing the message loud and clear for most of your life. Of course I can’t stand it, but there’s not much I can do to change it. I’m only one man (who happens to like a little more meat on his gals 😉 ). What I CAN do, however, is show you that society didn’t always value thinness. In fact, just a few decades ago, thinness was frowned upon!

Take this ad, found in the book “Food in the United States, 1820-1890”. It’s for a weight-gain product called “Fat-ten-u”.

There are plenty of other ads for this product online, you can find a few of them here. Fat-ten-u is advertised to “make the thin plump and rosy with honest fleshiness of form.” Yes, you’re reading this right. There are no typos, and it’s definitely not April Fool’s Day. Here’s a quote from another ad… “[a thin woman] must, in the confines of her bedroom, through shame, try to cover her poor thin figure from the gaze of her beloved spouse.” I couldn’t make this stuff up. Women in the 1890s wanted to gain weight! Plumpness was attractive! Crazy huh?

I say this not to make anyone question their weight loss efforts; I definitely don’t want to discourage you from shedding a few unwanted pounds. But there are two important points I want to hammer home.

1.  Trends come and go. Right now, it’s cool to be skinny. One hundred years ago, it was cool to be plump. Things are always changing. Don’t get caught up in the current trends, and don’t assume that our temporary and ever-changing societal ideals have anything to do with how you should look.

2.  Everyone is different. Many women, no matter how hard they try, will never ever look like paper-thin models; their bodies just weren’t built for it. Many other women will never look pleasingly plump. Everyone’s different. There is no universal ideal body. Know yours, love it, and be confident in it; it’s the only one you’ve got!