Lately I’ve become really intrigued about the concept of how the words “height and weight” are such similar words that both convey information about the build of a person, yet one is treated with generally far more delicacy and respect than the other. Don’t get me wrong, after an annoying interaction regarding my height, I have always thought to myself, “UGH, they wouldn’t call out someone’s weight like they call out my height!”, but lately I’ve been so fascinated in wanting to understand why that difference exists. I think that we can all agree that most people know that it is very rude and classless to make a thoughtless comment about the weight of another woman, yet the same boundaries and filters don’t apply when speaking to the height of one. How did we get to a place where they are regarded so differently? Does one letter make that big of a difference?
In spite of a very popular and growing body positivity trend aimed at celebrating all body shapes, it’s no secret that the ideal body for a woman is still very specific. Though men and women perceive the ideal body shape differently (are we really shocked by that), the truth is that the differences aren’t that major….at least in my humble opinion. Let me be Captain Obvious here for a moment and spell out what society tells us the ideal body looks like:
- Rock hard abs
- Slim waist
- Never-ending legs
Bullet #3 is again intriguing because that would suggest an element of height, but let’s put that on the backburner for now and circle back to it in a bit. Essentially the build that we are constantly reminded is “perfect” is one that is very thin and svelte, again….thank you again, Captain O. However, there’s one tidbit about this whole concept that is super interesting, if you ask me. There was a similar study done in the 1980’s looking a the ideal body and of course, the takeaway was that it was the almost painfully thin bodies that were all over TV and magazines, which were the dominant sources of media in those days. But what makes that even more interesting is that from 1959-1978, the average female weight in this country went up, even as the ideal body weight was going down. That in and of itself proves the power of the media influence!
Obviously we are all aware that the type of media consumption has changed quite a bit over the years, i.e. the introduction and impact of social media. So now in addition to the airbrushed and glam-squad prepped celebrities that are constantly in front of us, we have a whole new batch of “everyday”, regular women showing the world how they achieve their envious lifestyles. These bloggers/influencers are constantly showing off their flawless hair/makeup, their killer wardrobes, their fabulous homes and interiors, and dishing about their exercise and diet regimens. Sure, one can argue that there are influencers out there who are outside of the ideal body image and I totally agree with you. Research and quantifiable numbers from studies proves that it hasn’t yet moved the bar when it comes to impacting ideal body standards, though – but Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it’s still very possible that this movement produces some very positive results.
Then there’s the diet and weight loss industry. You’ve heard it all before – it’s a billion+ dollar industry, blah blah blah. Actually though, this kinda blew my mind, the projected sales in 2018 are expected to surpass $70 billion. Keep in mind that would be an increase from the nearly $68 billion this industry did in 2017. Again, another nod to the power and influence of media and social media. Obviously that’s not without it’s own controversy. I’m sure many of you have heard about the uproar that happened when Kim Kardashian promoted an appetite suppressant lollipop on her Instagram page. She caught such backlash about it (obviously because of her appeal with young girls and promoting products like this to that age group is NOT good) that she ultimately took the post down, but I’ve continued to see other celebs promoting those and other products like it. There’s no escaping the constant “you should be thin” messaging.
Now I didn’t write any of this expecting to blow your hair back. I know we’ve all heard it and seen it all before, BUT until recently I didn’t think about this with any respect to height. If you boil down the points I made above, it’s essentially that there is tremendous power behind the images that we are exposed to and this insane weight loss industry. And the thing is – it affects EVERYONE. It literally doesn’t matter if you are overweight, underweight or in-between, man or woman… it’s something that we can all experience. And it’s by design. Weight loss companies aren’t targeting only the very overweight – they capitalize on making people feel bad about themselves so they try to remedy it. I just read a blog article from someone who is quite thin trying to find a new program to lose a few extra pounds! No wonder it’s a massive industry.
THAT IS THE DIFFERENCE.
I always say it’s a lack of understanding or awareness, and here it is again. Because so many people experience this dissatisfaction with their weight, they can all relate and understand the “ick” factor that a person feels when they aren’t comfortable in their skin. This builds a filter for people naturally and a huge reason why I feel people just inherently know it’s not kind to speak about someone else’s weight. On the opposite hand, this isn’t the culture for height, largely because there’s not a thing you can do to change the actual height you are. There’s not a diet plan or lifestyle that can help a person achieve their ideal height like there is for people trying to chase their goal weight.
The fashion industry is also really notorious for promoting a very thin and tall body type. We just shared a post on the MTMH social media platforms about this earlier in the week, but women are constantly trying to find ways to elongate their legs and make themselves look taller! It’s really a thing!! And it’s because that’s really the only way that women have to try and achieve any elements of the ideal body as it relates to height components. They can’t physically make their legs as long as ours, so the next best thing is to find optical illusions to make it happen. It’s so interesting because we have what so many people would like, but the feedback from the outside world makes it hard to appreciate it. And the feedback happens because frankly not enough people who can relate to what it’s like to feel different because of their height. Being tall is a GOOD thing and a blessing (think of the features of the ideal body!!), most people genuinely don’t know the insecurities that can come along with it. When they make comments or jokes about it, it’s because they assume we are proud of it and they are projecting their own feelings of inferiority. They just can’t relate and never will. When they can’t put themselves in our shoes, they have less empathy. It’s just human nature.
The most important part of all of this is to always remember that the way other people behave speaks more about them than it ever does you. 🙂 You were lucky enough to inherit some truly remarkable genes and you should never doubt that. So the next time you are frustrated because someone commented on your height and they wouldn’t on another person’s weight, just remember…they are likely envious.