Is ‘Relatable’ The New Body Ideal?

November 23, 2015

Say hello to the new bikini bod: the one you already have.

Remember that line from Pink’s, Don’t Let Me Get Me, “L.A told me you’ll be a pop star, all you have to change is everything you are”? I believed her back in 2001 and I still do.

It definitely feels like being skinny has been a prerequisite for becoming famous since Kate Moss made looking rail thin cool. And as a result, a lot of celebrities struggle to maintain their size zero bodies, with stars like Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera going through very public weight battles.

And then there are singers like Adele, who has rebelled against conforming to a thin physique and embraced her figure for what it is, one which looks like it could belong to any one of us; a ‘relatable body’.

It’s very refreshing to see a singer who’s successful because of her talent instead of (only) her looks, but I always considered the singer was the exception to the rule, which is why I was quite startled when I read a recent interview in which Adele revealed, “Sometimes I’m curious to know if I would have been as successful if I wasn’t plus-size. I think I remind everyone of themselves. Not saying everyone is my size, but it’s relatable because I’m not perfect, and I think a lot of people are portrayed as perfect, unreachable and untouchable.”

Is Adele simply wrong, failing to grasp how lucky she was to have evaded being forced to down cayenne pepper drinks and lose weight by some dodgy manager, or is she in fact on to something – the idea that ‘relatable’, not rail thin, could be the ideal of a new, more accepting era of body image?

Celebrities like Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Lena Dunham are all challenging the size zero standard that has ruled the media for so long. Neither overweight nor underweight, these women are regarded as more relatable when it comes to looks. They don’t have thigh gaps, speak openly of dealing with cellulite and seem to represent the everywoman.

In a recent Instagram post, Schumer joked about winning an award for best body, saying, “I have so many foods I’d like to thank.”

Think about it: I can totally see myself hanging out with Amy Schumer, but I’d have no idea what to do with Gisele Bundchen. I’d also feel like an ugly duckling next to her. Maybe this is why we like celebs that are a bit more – dare I say it – ‘normal’ so much, because rather than making us feel like strangely deformed beasts unworthy of the title of ‘woman’, they remind us that it’s okay to have arms that jiggle when we wave them, hips that look like they could birth triplets, or a tummy that doesn’t appear to double as a handy washboard.

However, I still find it hard to believe more ‘relatable’ women have it easier when starting out. For every non-skinny celebrity, there are ten skinny ones. Maybe being plus-size set Adele apart from a lot of other talented singers, which might have worked for her at the time, but it’s important to remember that her looks aren’t what have kept her career going strong, it’s her incredible voice that’s made her one of the most successful singers of our time. The same applies to personalities like Amy Schumer and Tiny Fey, who beat the skinny odds and rose to fame thanks to their unique talent and ability to corner a niche that was crying out for strong female comedians.

The bottom line is, when you’re really good at something, people won’t care about how your ass looks in skinny jeans or whether you can pull off a crop top. Stars like Adele, Schumer and Fey prove there’s more to women than our looks, and perhaps that’s what’s most endearing of all about them. After all, shouldn’t we be raising the next generation of girls to relate to the women they see on the front pages of magazines and TV screens because of their brains, not their bodies? A woman who has more to give the world than a pair of legs or a bust is something I think we all find ‘relatable’.

Image via instagram.com

Comment: Do you think the ideal body image is evolving to become more relatable?


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