I apoligize in advance to Caroline who I'm using as an example, Caroline, if you ever see this, I'm sorry... but I also might be getting you new
Caroline Wozniacki has been one of my favorite women's tennis players for a few years, and she is now #1 in the world. I have also
heard many of my friends comment that she is a "little chubby" or even "fat," and that they would prefer a skinnier girl.
She certainly is not skinny, but that doesn't automatically make her fat, does it? Yes, she is a big strong girl, but that doesn't keep her from
being beautiful on the tennis court.
I thought my friends were maybe a little crazy to think the #1 tennis player in the world could be called "chubby." But then I saw an ad in Tennis
Magazine where her legs were clearly photoshopped or airbrushed to make her look thinner, and to the trained eye, it was obvious. She looked
And it's certainly not just Caroline whose pictures are being enhanced. It is quite often I see a famous woman's picture edited to make her look
thinner, sometimes so much so that it is obvious that the picture has been tinkered with.
I can see how big, muscular men could be attractive to women, because they are likely to be strong and able to protect and provide for their family.
But why has thinness become such an important factor for beauty in women? There are advantages to being thin, but there seem to be many more
disadvantages. Thinness being equated with beauty has led to an increase in eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, it increases health risks
during childbirth if the woman has a very low percentage of body fat, makes you more vulnerable to the cold and to physical attacks, and makes you
weaker. So what is the deciding factor that made thin beautiful? And how far back in history do we have to go before we see that thin is beautiful?
I think it has a lot to do with how men percieve women. Go back a two hundred years to the dawn of industrialization with more traditional families,
and even to an extent today, men wanted women who were more submissive and would fulfill their social roles without complaint. A smaller, slender
woman would be percieved by men as more submissive and obedient because they are physically weaker and visibly smaller.
But I don't think it's just social roles, it has a lot to do with industrialization too. It seems to me the most industrialized countries have the
highest standard for thinness. The standard in America is pretty high, as thinner women are much more sought after by men, and most chubby or fat
women strive to lose weight and become more like thin women. Just think of Weight Watchers, you never see a normal thin woman strive to be bigger,
it's always bigger women striving to be thinner. But take a walk through Tokyo, Japan, and America's standard is no comparison. There simply are
no fat women in Tokyo.
What many Americans like myself consider normal is considered fat in Japan. And Tokyo is more industrialized, more
technologically advanced, and more isolated from nature than any American cities. So what is it about industrialization that might make us want to
percieve thin women as beautiful?
I believe it's subconscious attitudes we have about society that drive us to think thin women are more beautiful. This subconscious attitude has to
do with evolution and survival of the fittest. The more industrialized an area is, the more densely populated the area is. We know that thin people
need less food to eat, take up less space, and are more fit for surviving on limited resources. This is important because with a more dense
population, there are less resources per person, so being able to do more with less resources is important.
This concept may not ring as true today, but it did at the dawn of industrialization when the Proletariat was forming into a definite social group.
Living in slums, often unemployed, often living on little food, the Proletariat by necessity spawned a generation of thinner women because of their
constant work and little food. If you were a male factory worker who was living in harsh conditions, you would be able to associate with thinner women
more because their thinness was a mark of their struggle to survive. A bigger woman may have been looked down on by the majority of the Proletariat
because her good health was a mark of her affluence.
As time went on, the Proletariat started to dominate city life and city culture, and city culture started to dominate the world culture, so the
Proletariat's view that thinner women are more desirable became the world's view.