We desperately need mid BMI models and actresses
Women are becoming increasingly ashamed of being a healthy weight
I’m standing in my doctor’s office, feeling my knees buckle underneath me. “Please-” I ask her, trembling, “Can you not tell me how much I weigh?”
She looks at me, confused, and nods. She hides the number on the scale and smiles. “Nice slim girl!” She says. “No need to look so scared!”
I come home and weigh myself in private out of curiosity. 8st 13 (125lb). I’m 5ft 6.5. Is that normal? How overweight am I? I check my BMI. Nicely on the lower end of normal. I check my numbers frantically on my phone. There must be a mistake. I’m fat.
I pinch my arms and my stomach. I’m not imagining fat there. I hate exercise. Even at my most obsessive dieting moments, I’d rather starve than go for a run. There’s an element of exhibitionism to the whole gym/jogging thing that does nothing for my anxiety. I even hate stairs. The idea of actually letting people see me drenched in sweat in flat shoes is possibly more horrible than going to university in my pyjamas.
I go to the shops, and need an XS dress or an XS belt. I need XS rings or they slip off my fingers. (Jeans are another story, but any woman with hips knows that episode.) This all frustrates me because I don’t see a small, or even medium, woman in the mirror.
I feel like a size 14 or 16. I hide my body in huge jumpers and shawls. A picture of my face from the side has me frantically hitting delete. So what the hell is going on?
Actually, I know, deep down. All the women considered beautiful by society are never over 110lb. They have personal trainers, they have diet plans of broccoli and steamed almond milk, and are usually about four inches taller than I am. Which is fine, kudos to them, but when I see a 120lb woman shamed on a magazine as ‘having a big curvy body' I completely freak out. Even though no doctor on the planet would tell me I should try to get down to under 120lb. All this levels into a huge amount of anxiety.
I don’t want to be a ‘plus size inspiration’ as an actress, because I’m not. It is so, so unhealthy to present women with a BMI of 18–21 as fat, especially in a society where being fat is considered something irredeemably ugly or grotesque. It should be totally normal to see a woman who is 9st on TV or in a film. Why is that weird? I’ve never had a bloke tell me I’m too ‘big’ for him. Terrifying and moody, yes, but never too fat.
Anyway. I shouldn’t need to lose 20lb to be able to play an attractive woman. When you say that a woman who is a standard, medically justifiable weight is too fat to be seen as sexy, there is a problem. This whole fragile waif thing just plays into the idea that women should be weak. And why on earth would Elizabeth Bennett need to have toned, size 2 arms? Would Mr Darcy be turned off by a woman who, at no point, was described as desperately thin?
I’m not saying you have to cast me, or anyone else, if you think it is completely unbelievable that anyone would fancy us. I too have watched in bemusement as pretty airbrushed twenty year old girls chase a very hairy and old looking Bond. But please stop referring to mid-range women as some empowering freakshow to be represented on screen.
Health should always come above aesthetic and I worry about how this industry drives young women into insecurity and eating disorders. Not every woman on TV has to be a lazy, lump-shaped potato like me. But a little less of the about-to-die-of-consumption look, please?