Thin may be in, but there’s a limit to how low ideal weights can go

GAP, London

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
July 8, 2003

I recently saw a display of vintage mannequins from the turn of the century that shocked me. They were life-size and wearing dresses equivalent to a Size 10 or 12.

Fast-forward to a shopping trip to a downtown Chicago department store where the mannequins were roughly the shape of your 12-year-old nephew.

While we as a nation have gotten larger, the size ideal has gotten smaller–for women, that is.

I blame Hollywood for perpetuating this skewed view of reality and its women for living the lie that says the bigger the lips, the smaller the hips.

It’s bad enough women already have to deal with the notion that we become less attractive as we grow older while our male counterparts’ age lines and gray hair are considered distinguished. But how are we to compete with a size ideal that’s almost impossible even for the whippet thin set to maintain?

Admittedly, some women are naturally thin. But even those who are renowned for their slight figures acknowledge how difficult it is keeping their shapes in a society where thin not only is in, it’s almost mandatory.

Actress Susan Dey admits that at the height of her anorexia, she received envious fan mail from girls who wanted to whittle down to her size. When Kate Moss put on a few pounds to tip the scales at 110, some designers criticized the 5-foot-6 model for letting herself go. And less than a decade ago, Sarah Jessica Parker swore she didn’t diet or work out. Now the new mom speaks openly about the need to exercise to maintain her tiny but curvy shape.

As for Lisa Kudrow, pity the Size 6 actress, who is a behemoth compared to spindly Courteney Cox and Jennifer Aniston.

What we Midwestern women would like to know is, why do these L.A. women keep perpetuating this image that emaciated is best? It’s not just the celebs, whose livelihood depends on how they look. The regular folk fall into the trap of keeping up with movie stars.

In just about any other state (except for New York, where Social X-Rays rule), Juicy Couture’s Large would be considered a Medium at best, Liv Tyler wouldn’t be dubbed a “big girl,” and Size 0 would be annoying rather than coveted.

The women who I feel the most pity for are L.A.’s regular women. During a shopping trip with one of my friends, I watched dumbfounded as a sales clerk literally snatched a dress away from my 5-foot-10-inch, Size 10 buddy. The woman was worried that my very lean friend might “stretch” it.

To all the curvy Los Angelinos who’re hungry for acceptance, I extend an open invitation: Come to the Midwest where the men are men and the women are fed.

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