Just because it has been this way for centuries…

doesn’t mean it has to carry on this way!


In the Victorian era, the ideal body shape for women was so impossible that corsets were worn that some times broke ribs and always squeezed so tightly that women’s internal organs were displaced.


In the 1920s the ideal body type for women was so “boy-like” that they bound their breasts and wore ling line girdles to disguise their hips.

neck rings

In some parts of burma (and many other places around the world at times) beauty was considered to involve a long neck such that brass rings are worn around the neck which gradually deform the clavicle and compress the ribs to give the illusion of a longer neck.


In ancient china (right up until 1911) small feet were so desirable in women that their feet were bound to prevent them growing large. Such a process was intensely painful as id didn’t stop the feet growing, they just deformed and bones broke as they grew.


IN 2014 we are being told that we have to be strong, not skinny, but not strong with any fat, only strong in an unrealistic athletic way. But also that we have to have curves and that real women have curves which is what men like. But as well as that we have to be on every diet known to man and apparently be slimmer by morning. Strong is beautiful, so presumably not strong is not beautiful, so I can have curves…but only strong ones?

What I am trying to say is through out the history of the world there have been unrealistic damaging and unnecessary ideals set out for women’s beauty.

(As I write this, I am aware that it is not just a womens issue. Men go through similar issues too, I realise that, but that may have to be a different blog post. my not being a man makes them harder to write about…)

Isn’t it about time we stopped defining what is beautiful according to made up ideals? The very fact that there is a fashionable body type is frankly ludicrous and leads to bone breaking corsets and radical crazy butt implant surgery (albeit not at the same time).

Isn’t it time we realised and accepted that people have different body types and one is not better than another. Excessive measures to attempt to change body type is not only damaging physically but mentally.

I am not against working to improve your own body within the bounds of its type and (and this is the important bit) to achieve a healthier fitter lifestyle.

I am against attempting to change your body beyond its capacity just because the fashion industry or the movie industry or any industry tells you to!

Accepting all body types is not a slogan.

Accepting all body types is not telling a skinny person that they need to eat a cake. Really, accepting that some people are larger means also accepting that some people are naturally skinny.

Slogans such as “strong is the new skinny” and “strong is beautiful” are not really helpful. They idealise another mythical out of reach body type which really just makes you feel that your body doesn’t live up to the ideal.

If strong is beautiful, doesn’t that mean that if you don’t pick up heavy things you are ugly?

If real women have curves, are skinny women not real…because I have met some, they do exist!

While we are on the subject of “strong is the new skinny”, I need to ask…what does that really mean?

Pre lift :-)

this is me…I am strong

dark rachel

This is my friend Rachel…she is skinny..

Does this mean I am the new Rachel?

Because that make no sense at all!

I use these pictures deliberately.

I am not yet at a size I consider to be the right one for me but I am strong and fit and getting stronger. I am not by any means striving to be Rachel sized or Rachel shaped.

Rachel is naturally tall and skinny and has narrow shoulders and hips. She is this way because that is how she is built. (she is also addicted to pringles and freely admits she is skinny but not as healthy as she could be)
I have broad shoulders and broad hips and that is how I am built.

I strive to be a slimmer version of me, but I am doing that to acheive a healthier life and I am doing it for me. Noone out there is making me!
(I believe this 85% of the time…the other 15% is when my irrational head turns on and makes me feel like a fat lump but shhh…noone is perfect and it is a much healthier percentage than it was!)

It is time to stop finding ways to denigrate other women.

It is time to focus on health, true health whatever size. It is time to accept that there will be people larger than you and people smaller than you and constantly comparing yourself to them is damaging.

It is time to take responsibility for yourselves rather than concentrating all your energies on finding new and inventive ways to bring a sector of the population down. If you are truly happy and healthy in your own skin then believe that it is also possible for other people to be.

If you aren’t, then no amount of shaming of  others will change you. Work on yourself to acheive the physical and mental health you need to allow you to go through life without finding fault with everyone else you see.

As I pointed out at the very start, this sort of body shape fashion has been going on since long before we remember, but there is no need to perpetuate it. I don’t pretend to have the solution. a large scale societal change is probably slightly ambitions for my little blog, but it is still worth saying!

I also want to update you all on the “Thinspirtion” issue I highlighted a few weeks ago. I wrote to the magazine, and the publishers. I recieved no response or acknowledgement at all. I can’t say I am surprised, but I am disappointed!




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About Sam Catchpole

Exercisaholic, Photographer, Artist, Writer, Engineer, Morris Dancer, General Obsessive...

11 responses to “Just because it has been this way for centuries…”

  1. NancyTex says :

    Sam, I love this post so much. I think that by illustrating the nonsense that has gone on for centuries you have driven the message home that this is not a new problem. That women, the world over, have been struggling to conform to a societal standard forever.

    This paragraph hit home the most for me though:
    “I strive to be a slimmer version of me, but I am doing that to acheive a healthier life and I am doing it for me. Noone out there is making me!
    (I believe this 85% of the time…the other 15% is when my irrational head turns on and makes me feel like a fat lump but shhh…noone is perfect and it is a much healthier percentage than it was!)”

    I can relate to this on every level. On the one hand, I am so proud of myself for how hard I’ve worked, and how far I’ve come. I do strive to be a little thinner (17 lbs to be exact!) – and I’ll admit that is mainly for two things: 1) the esthetics; and 2) that I would fall more into the high end of the ideal weight (versus my current OVERWEIGHT status). I realize #2 is ridiculous, and I’ll own the silliness of wanting to conform to a societal # of what ‘ideal body weight” I should be… Like you, most days I feel healthy and strong (and attractive) and other days (thankfully WAY few than ever before in my life) I feel like a fat slob. I’m grateful that the percentages of feeling one way versus the other are where they are.

    Well done on this post!

  2. whackyrach says :

    Reblogged this on whackyrach and commented:
    So true….and needs to be said again and again and again until it sinks in!

  3. freebutfun says :

    too bad for them not to answer in anyway!! But I like your message.

    We were just having a playdate and ended up also talking about how we as parents need to make a good role model for our children; when one mum, who has severe allergies, is “picky” with food (and if it was something she didn’t know, like a salad, she could first turn on things to check what is in ti), she realised her daughter started to be picky; she started to lift on food on her plate and set them aside too! And then added on a “uuu, yacky”. So even though this mum strives to be healthy, her daughter got the wrong image of her manners. Now she has changed them, tries to ask upfront what the food contains, and then eat happily everything on the plate, and if she can’t have something, she explains it clearly to the daughter, who fortunately has again started to eat better. I can only imagine what the girl would have picked up if the mum would have been dieting at the same time too!

    After this long rant, I really like the emphasis on healthy and the option of being different (different builds of bodies) and that is ok. And we need to show our children we are ok ourselves so that they don’t copy anything unhealthy from us.

    • Ice_Badger says :

      it is funny you should mention the food thing,

      I am even at 38 just getting over being a picky eater. and it is a pickiness learned from my mum.
      She was for many reasons a very picky eater but went to great lengths to make sure that as a young child she gave me everything to eat even if she didn’t like it.
      Unfortunately when I was about 5 I picked up on what she would and wouldn’t eat and flat out refused to eat anything my mum didn’t like (with the exception of sweetcorn for some reason) there was no logical reason for it apart from I wanted to be just like my mum!
      My mum worked really hard to try and encourage me to eat more things, it did work…eventually!!

      This is why it is important that we accept different bodytypes and strive to be healthy!

  4. jane in training says :

    This is the sound of me clapping: smackclaphandstogethersmack

  5. Ice_Badger says :

    Reblogged this on Midsummer 365 Projects and commented:

    It is throwback Thursday…so here are some opinions that I had this time last year…
    I still have them but I had forgotten I had written them down!
    Anyway, as surprisingly little has changed in a year, I thought it could do with another mention!

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