Friday, February 19, 2010

The skinny

I've been enjoying the Olympics, particularly the ice skating--whatever else one might think of it, it's a lot of fun to watch.

I don't know if I'll be awake long enough to watch much of the ice dancing tonight (and sometimes the costumes leave a lot to be desired, particularly, well, fabric), but I did find this article rather inspirational:

Heading into their second Games, Belbin and Agosto, the Olympic silver medalists in 2006, are once again among the favorites to win a medal in the competition, which begins Friday with the compulsory dance. What should give them an edge this time, Belbin said, is something she would have never dreamed could help them: her newly found muscles and curves.

She can thank one of her coaches, Natalia Linichuk, for that.

Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, who were the 1980 Olympic ice dancing champions, began coaching Belbin and Agosto in the summer of 2008, when Belbin and Agosto left suburban Detroit for a fresh start.

Linichuk took one look at the 5-foot-6, 105-pound Belbin and said, “You need to gain 10 pounds.” She said more muscle would help Belbin skate faster and more fluidly.

“At first, I said no way, but then I started to understand that it needed to be done,” said Belbin, who is from Kirkland, Quebec, but holds dual citizenship. “I don’t feel like I had a safe, well-thought-out or well-researched diet until the past few years, until Natalia gave me that ultimatum.” [...]

“I was always like, there will never be a day when I can’t fit into my jeans,” Belbin said. “But this past summer, I came to him and said my jeans are so tight. I never thought I’d see that change in my body. It really, really made a difference. It feels good, though.”

Belbin began marveling at her new body. She had gained 10 pounds. Her waist size increased two inches because her core was so much stronger.

Agosto could see a huge difference in Belbin’s skating. During lifts, she was no longer a sack of potatoes, holding on for dear life. She could hold her positions much better, and that made it easier for Agosto because she did not move around as much.

And another writer's perspective on this story:

The difference in their skating is noticeable. Last season, they took silver in Skate America and the Cup of China. This season, they took gold in the same events, and they are contenders for gold in ice dancing.

So when you watch Belbin compete for gold this weekend, realize that you're not just looking at a beautiful woman. You're looking at a beautiful, healthy woman.

A beautiful, healthy woman, indeed--just compare these two pictures, the first from 2006, and the second taken last year.

When was it decided that in order to be beautiful, a woman had to be thin--not just slender, but practically emaciated? I think the fashion industry has a lot to answer for, here, and Victoria Beckham's recent statement to the effect that the industry should continue to allow size zero models fails to see the devastating effects that the pressure to be thin can have, not only on these women, but on girls and women generally.

And how insane is this?

A top Canadian model weighing 105 pounds said she's being shunned from the catwalk for being too fat, The Sun reported Thursday.

Former Vogue cover girl Coco Rocha, 21, is only a size four in clothing, but she said she’s not in demand for shows anymore.

“I’ve been told to lose weight even though I am really skinny," she told the newspaper.

Rocha’s revelation reignited the controversy over stick-thin models who are often copied by vulnerable young girls.

The fashion industry moved away from size zero catwalk queens following the deaths of two anorexic model sisters in Uruguay in 2006 and 2007.

We women have to stop accepting the notion that thin equals beautiful. We have to stop crazy diets and five-pound-drop marathons. We have to quit letting an industry that essentially views women as walking clothes hangers with figures (or lack therof) to match make us feel fat even if we're in a good weight range for our heights and frame sizes. We have to learn to quit fixating on the scale and start asking the questions: am I healthy? Do I have enough energy to get through the day? Do I exercise regularly, and get enough sleep?

Most important of all, we need to let our daughters see us asking those questions, and not asking "Why can't I be thin?" as if the goal of womanhood is to come as close to skeletal as possible while still having a recognizably female figure. Tanith Belbin looks wonderful with those extra ten pounds and those extra two inches of waist, and her pursuit of health--not thinness--is an inspiration.


Siarlys Jenkins said...

Seriously, how often are men attracted to a woman quite so thin as all that?

Robert said...

Being the owner of both an X and a Y chromosome, I have to admit that there is a certain instant attraction I have to very-skinny women.

However, it lasts hardly more than an instant. I would guess it is largely or entirely culturally conditioned, because as soon as I shift from "Whoa!" to "Would I like to date/get-to-know her better?" I think, the girl needs to put some meat on her bones.

Being a guy, I'll use a car analogy. When I see a tiny roadster (like a BMW Z4, candy red, of course) flash down the road, I do feel a certain desire. But when I was looking for a new car for myself, that was nowhere in my consideration - and not only for cost reasons. I want a car that's built to human proportions, and that has something besides its looks to recommend it.

Mary Catherine said...

I"m sorry comparing women to cars just doesn't seem right somehow. :(

As a woman who has always been very thin until recently I have a hard time understanding the attraction to thinness.
After gaining about 8 lbs after childbearing and now another 10 through menopause I feel great. No matter how hard I tried, I could never quite manage to put on more than a pound or two.
With the extra weight I"m rarely ill anymore.
I look great and I'm happy.