Entertainment Tonight is one of my late-night indulgences. When I can't sleep, I flick the television on and can find it in less than five seconds. Tonight was no different. I was hoping to get the newest gossip on the Britney and K-Fed divorce, but instead was greeted with the lastest "ET: Expose".
Scandalous. Shocking. Totally done before.
The expose itself required Vanessa Minnilo to don a "fat suit", which is exactly as it sounds. Designed to add curves and lumps to her usually stunning, yet reasonably curvacious body, her reaction to the suit was obvious and not surprising. What happened next did.
Vanessa asked someone off camera what size the skirt she was about to put on was.
"Size 12" the woman stated, with a bit of disdain in her voice.
Vanessa's reaction was immediate and harsh, she appeared, to me, to recoil in disgust. My own reaction was just as immediate. My heart sank. A size 12? A size 12 is worthy of such scorn? I'm a size 12! My bloid boiled and I went from heartsick to just plain mad. What is up with that? Since when is a size 12 considered "ugly"?
The makeup artists and wardrobe people went on to finish Vanessa's "ugly" look. They added extra weight to her neck, changed her nose to include a bump, added freckled and blemishes and the final touch; a long brown wig.
It occured to me right then. They didn't make Vanessa Minnillo look ugly, they made her look normal.
Gone was the unattainably perfect hair. No more puckered lips and sensual eyes. Her pre-childbirth body, still tight in all the places it was meant to be was nowhere in sight. Yes, my friends, that is what counts as "ugly" these days. Isn't that what it pretty much comes down to? If we don't all look like we wake up each morning ready for a photo shoot, we're just not worth it.
My first reaction to the size of Vanessa's fat skirt was to be ashamed. I wear the same size as that suit and I was not happy about it. I was embarassed and sad. For a few minutes I felt unworthy and no longer proud of the body I have. I went from amazement at birthing four children and being a size 12 to shame for being a size 12 in general. What is wrong with that scenario? I was angry and pumped. I'm a confident person and genuinely happy with how I look. How dare someone try to make me feel like that's not enough?
Two days ago Kirstie Alley sauntered onto Oprah's stage wearing a bikini. She looked confident, proud and like she knew she deserved to be there. A woman who is the same age as my mother went on national television in a bikini and what did most editorial media focus on? Her thighs. Or the fact that she didn't remove her wrap to show her ass. Or that she's lied about how much she really weighed when she started her program. She lost over seventy-five pounds. She lost a ten year old! And her thighs are what people are focused on?
There are so many campaigns on the internet and in television that promote real beauty. I am totally on board with them. I applaud them. Logically though, will this really change anything? Will there ever be a time when a brown haired woman with freckles, pimples and a size 12 skirt is not considered ugly? I'm going to go with "No" and that's too bad, but it's life. This is our world. In 2006 a very small perentage of the population gets to decide what is beautiful and a large part of the population is not included. Practically, tangeably, currently, there really isn't much I can do to change that.
What I can change is how I react. Just because beautiful is being shoved down my throat in a size 2 skirt and bleach blond hair doesn't mean I have to believe it. Can a gorgeous woman with a small waist parent four children, balance her own hobbies and career and just try to keep it all together on a daily basis? Of course she can! Is she better at it than I am because of how she looks? No way.
So many times I've looked down at my stomach and I've felt depressed. It's stretched, the skin hangs and it's scarred permanently. It's the one thing I would change about my body. I pull my shirt down over it. I don't look at it if I don't have to. Among all my family and friends though, the only person it bothers is me. So why am I so worried? It doesn't make me less of a Mom or Wife or Friend. I can honestly say that the things I dislike the most about my body are the things that have brought me to where I am.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not bitter. Not at all. Not anymore. I love fashion magazines. I love hollywood gossip. I love watching movies and the red carpet and ET. It's all wonderful entertainment, but that's all it is. It doesn't define my life, I do. All six feet, one hundred and seventy pounds of me.