What is the appeal of the emaciated look? *please read before posting*

  1. Mods please note: Since this more of a pop culture question I posted in the General discussion rather than in the health/fitness section.

    A few weeks ago I had an interesting discussion with a British man about Victoria Beckham, her Spice girl days, her new look and her image in the US. One of the comments he made to me has really stuck in my mind and I have been thinking about it a lot. He said, “I don’t understand why she thinks she looks better now than in her Spice Girl days. Women are supposed to be soft and curvy - not hard and bony.”

    So, I’d like to have a serious discussion about the trend of the super-thin look. Please understand, I am not talking about petite women who are naturally thin. But rather the emaciated look that we see throughout our culture in the form of VB, Renee Zellwegger, Angelina Joie, Kate Moss, etc…

    Historically, it has generally been the case that women want to look attractive in the ways that men find them appealing. If you look at men’s magazines that are meant to appeal to men they do NOT have emaciated women in them. Is the heroin-chic look meant to appeal to women? If so, where did it start and WHY does the emaciated look appeal to women?

    This is actually a new culturally induced phenomenon in Western History. Marilyn Monroe – who was perhaps the biggest sex symbol of all-time now looks “fat” by our new standard.

    I’ve posed this question to some of my friends and these are some of the explanations we’ve come up with.

    One of my BF who is in the fashion industry thinks it reflects the disproportionate influence of gay men in the fashion industry. They do not find voluptuous women attractive. So they design clothes that look good on a “boy” type body which they find appealing but not a traditionally curvy woman’s body which heterosexual men find appealing.

    Do women think they look younger?

    Do women care about whether they look desirable to men? Possibly an influence of feminism?

    Is it competition with other women? The skinnier you are the more self-control you show and become more attractive to other women.

    If you are a friend of Nicole Richie would you tell her she is too thin or do you tell her she looks terrific?

    What does your DH think of the emaciated look? None of our husbands find it appealing at all. Every single one of them said they’d rather have an overweight woman than a too skinny woman. They all think gaunt women look old and wretched.

    I’m really interested in everyone’s thoughts. Please post your comments.
  2. hm, interesting. as someone who has fought a long and hard battle with issues surrounding food I can honestly say self-control to the outside world is something addictive rather than dictated - it isn't really something you prove to your friends but rather use to hide other issues. (isn't it funny though how we get so worried when we see someone so thin but use the word self-control so quickly when we see someone so over-weight?) I guess the fashion world does impose a lot of 'norms' by which the rest of the world tries to abide. i have wondered about the designer thing but found it to be not true - there are so many designers who design clothes for women of all shapes and sizes. ok, Karl L got a bit crazy after losing weight himself but there are only a few who look out for the 'boy-ish' figure. I reckon this is just a trend - btw, the issues of what weight to have and how to look in your clothes really is a sign of a saturated society IMO. we have so little to worry about apparently (I am not excluding myself).

    personally, I think every woman should have her 'feel-good' not hard to maintain weight - which could be any size, even size 0 if it is natural to her. but starving yourself into oblivion isn't going to do you any good. as for how women are 'supposed to be' - I think women should be what their natural body type is. 'soft and curvy' is just another look - in this case a hetero man's look possibly but still just something everybody tries to be.
  3. Women now want to look like what they think men find attractive - ie. runway models, porn stars, actresses, etc. I have never met a man that was attracted to the sticks & bone figure.

    I'm not a thin woman, and I will never be a thin woman - it's just not the way I'm built and that's not the type of family I come from. All of the women in my family had curves. I think it's really sad that so many women have issues with their bodies and feel the need to compare themselves to these women who are not real and not a representation of what "normal" women look like. In my teens I struggled with my weight a bit - I wasn't comfortable in my own skin and felt that I needed to look like Jenna Jameson for the men to like me. Now - I'm not blaming Jenna Jameson for anything, but a lot of men "look up" to her as being a sex icon. After I met my last boyfriend, I realised that I did not have to look like that for a man to like me.

    Bart doesn't like the bony look on women. He says it looks unhealthy and unnatural. He prefers women who have a little "extra meat" (as I've been described by a few..:push:smile: and have hips, breasts, and butts. He likes women who look like women, not little girls or boys.

    VaginaPagina (a community for women on Livejournal) did a project called Everyday Bodies a few years ago, to address this type of problem and to help other women feel normal and proud of the bodies they have. All of the images are user-submitted and some are NSFW (ie. Everyday Breasts). It was a really good resource for me when I was feeling down - knowing that there are other women out there who look like me and have similar body types made me feel a lot better! http://community.livejournal.com/vaginapagina/3530926.html
  4. I'll probably be generalizing rather broadly here, but in my country poor people are thin. They are thin simply because they do not have money enough to feed themselves.

    So a man in looking for a mate in my country more or less prefers a woman who is not thin. This has underlying implications that a thin woman may likely be having problems with malnutrition and may likely come from an economically deprived background. I was quite thin in my teenage years 5'6" and about 96lb and people would tell me "You have to get more fat or no man will ever want to marry you!"

    I found in very interesting to come to the US and find that what I thought of as a nice figure, people here would think of as 'fat'.
  5. I'm curvy, large breasts, round booty, hips, the whole sha-bang! lol :biggrin: I even have the round face to match, hehe

    Here's the way I view it:

    My sister is a stick; she has been since 8th grade. She was a serious ballet dancer, and was anorexic for 5 years. She'd take ex lax, she'd eat grapes and water for lunch, smoke cigs like there is no tomorrow, the whole deal. To this day, in college and away from dance, she still eats little food, smokes a pack a day, and at a 28 inch natural waist with a flat stomach, thinks she is fat and moans about it anytime she's trying to find an outfit to wear. She won't quit smoking because she's afraid of gaining weight, and won't take birth control for the same reason (apparently russian roulette is a better method :rolleyes:)

    The last time I was a 28 inch natural waist, I was in High school, as a strict vegetarian, lol. I'm a 30-31 inch natural waist now, and I'm happy as a clam! I eat healthy and what I want anytime I want in moderation, I get my exercise from walking my Chi's and from in home pole dancing (oh yes, I have one, and they are GREAT for exercise!!!) :biggrin: I don't smoke or drink. I'm happy with my size, and rarely contemplate body imperfections. I know I am a much happier and healthier person than my sister is! I would never want to be thin at a price like what most girls pay. Plus, SO loves me the way I am :yes:

    I can't wear empire waist tops, the baggy slouchy 80's tunics that my sister wears. I can't pull off spaghetti strap anything, or dresses that hit just below my booty (not that I'd try it :p), etc., but I can wear things that my sis can't pull off, so it equals out! :yes: Sure, no doubt I could lose a few pounds and probably be more "average" size today, but I'm not going to stress myself out :okay:

    Curvy emo-style self-taken pictures attached, wooooo! :boxing:
    pic1.jpg pic2.jpg
  6. ^--- I LOVE your post Neeya~~~ soooo empowering!!

    I think that this pop culture topic is based on competition and a lack of information of the human body, it's functions and capabilities, the descructive behavior of addiction and obsessions. Low self esteem is a huge factor along with insecurities........... but not to say that ALL emaciated women are this way?
  7. i've been struggling with anorexia for about 7 years now (i'm 23) and i just wanted to start out by saying i really appreciate the way you worded everything... in an inquisitive way, as opposed to accusatory:smile: ok, i might ramble on, so apologies if i'm getting to wordy and annoying:yes:

    Do women care about whether they look desirable to men? Possibly an influence of feminism?
    actually, part of my disorder is that male attention kind of scares me, and i know that bc i'm so underweight, i can avoid the attention in the first place.
    my ed first really began when i entered college, and so it was at that time when meeting guys, going out, drinking, etc. first really began for me. i've always been tall and thin (5'11, never more than a size 4) and therefore, i always stood out, and got the "you should model thing." it sounds kind of stupid... what girl doesn't want lots of positive male attention? but for some reason, it all came too fast.
    as soon as college began, i didn't know how to deal with all of the attention from males. not saying that really "began" my ed, but it didn't help. (and i have no real *male* issues, wonderful father/ family, never any abuse) i fit the upper class, white, over-achiever stereotype.)
    i found that as my anorexia got worse and worse, guys didn't notice me as much, and it was.... nice.
    also, because this disease literally consumes me, the attention from guys is one less thing i have to worry about?

    Is it competition with other women? The skinnier you are the more self-control you show and become more attractive to other women.
    again, not really. maybe a little bit in the beginning? but once i got very deep into it, the only thing that triggered me was myself and my own image, not others perceptions of me.

    If you are a friend of Nicole Richie would you tell her she is too thin or do you tell her she looks terrific?
    this is tough... i had friends/ family telling me i looked amazing, and friends/ family telling me that i looked like death. at present, with a bmi of around 15, sometimes 14, i STILL have people telling me i look fabulous (i DO work in fashion though, so you know... you can never be too rich or too thin:wtf:) a real friend is supposed to tell you the truth, but weight is a VERY sensitive subject, for anyone.
    my roommates eventually got together and called my parents, and before my sr. year of college i spent the summer in an inpatient program at the hospital... but again, there's only so much friends and family can do, once you're over 18 and on your own.

    eek! i'm writing a lot, and not very well... but if any of this is unclear, go ahead and ask questions, i'm not scared:graucho:
  8. One thing that could be misunderstood in this post is to say that men do not find thin women attractive and they all prefer a curvy woman.

    My understanding is that you are referring to someone who is starving herself and not naturally thin. I have always been thin, no matter what I ate, and I was very self-conscious of this. I actually go to the gym to ADD more substance to myself and have to eat a LOT to maintain a weight and size ABOVE what I would normally be. Very unusual, but true. And a lot of people don't understand this at all.

    I just want to make it clear that by no means should a woman who is naturally thin feel bad about herself and think that men will not find her attractive. This is also something that I have struggled with and am finally feeling good about myself.

    On the other hand, I do agree that it is not attractive to look emaciated, starving, and unhealthy. There is a difference between someone who is naturally thin and unnaturally thin. I hope this all makes sense.
  9. I completely understand what you are saying. I know many women who are naturally thin and that is why I prefaced my comments with this paragraph. Hope you were not offended.

  10. Unbelievably insightful post. Thanks for your thoughts and good luck on your journey.
  11. ^^^ I think the OP made a disclaimer that the concern wasn't with women who are naturally thin. I too agree that thin women can be discriminated against just as much as overweight women. I believe that what a country finds appealing goes in phases based on generation. Eventually it will come back to full circle and women like Marilyn Monroe will be considered the "ideal" again. But how will that impact naturally thin women? Should they gorge themselves with food (to an unhealthy state) to spurt hips and boobs? Plastic surgery? Personally I think that any judgment based on size is wrong. But the main focus here is why we, as society, promote women like Nicole Richie, Kate Moss, etc. when it is obvious that these women are grappling with image issues. If it impacts your health (to either side of the spectrum) than it's just not right.

    Genetically men are programmed to be attractive to the woman who looks the fittest to bear them children. That's why curvy (smaller curves are sexy too!) women draw men like flies. If you look at the men's magazines you'll see fuller woman. I think there is some merit to be given to the fact that the fashion world is influencing our current Hollywood starlets - who are in turn influencing our young.
  12. Most women do not read men's magazines (Maxim, Stuff, etc.) but they do read fashion magazines (I'm not talking about Cosmo or Glamour but more Vogue, Elle, and Harper's Bazaar). If you flip through these magazines (and I do almost every day) you see pages after pages of thin models showing off the latest designer fashions. You're not going to see a size 6 woman modeling Valentino or Jean Paul Gaultier unless she is a celebrity or very famous. And I think that when we look at those magazines over and over again we become a little brainwashed and start thinking that if you want to look good in those clothes then you need to be as skinny as the model wearing them.

    But men do think differently about women's bodies then women do.

    I can bet that any guy would rather have sex with one of the Girls Next Doors then with Gemma Ward.
  13. That is what I've been thinking. But why? Has this always been the case or is this a recent thing.
  14. Since I have never been thin in my entire life, I don't have the faintest idea of what it might be like to buy clothes in sample sizes, or carry off certain trends like skinny jeans. I used to obsess about my weight, but now that I am 40, I am healthier now than I ever have been due to more healthy eating and regular exercise. I have always had 38D boobs.....that is just they way it is.

    DH doesn't care for the skinny look but we have plently of friends who are married to very thin women (some who are still size 2-4 even after kids). I just feel very sorry for women who are made to feel they "have" to be a certain weight in order to be appreciated by men.

    I have personal friends that really feel like a woman can never be too skinny and that people like the Olsen twins and Nicole Richie are the standard for what women should aspire too. I just don't get it.....

  15. I love the emaciated look. DH hates it tho...
    we always argue about this whenever we are doing nothing but people watch....whenever i see a gilr with emaciated look i always say "damn that girl is hot" , and then he goes "what?"