I was eating my morning Cheerios (Honey Nut, obviously) when I came across something that forced me to spit them out. A website called AskMen (which men? I have no idea) tweeted a story informing ladies everywhere: "Female Attractiveness Linked To Lower Body Fat," with the addition, "Trending News: Real Men Don't Prefer Curves, Actually."
Well, f**k. Here I was eating Cheerios specifically to beef up my ass in hopes of appearing attractive to "real" men. How devastating to discover I've been doing it all wrong. RIP, Cheerios.
In the article, author Ian Lang attempts to mask douchebaggery with evolution, explaining that we used to think that men love curves because they imply that women aren't literally starving (i.e. it's not a famine) and can pop out a child at any given time. (I mean, women, what else are they good for, amirite?) That is, until science told us that men actually dig skinny chicks -- which was super important for AskMen to report on, because evaluating women's bodies under the lens of the male gaze is just a fun Friday activity.
Mr. Lang speculates that male preference has shifted because dudes would rather bang a woman who looks famished than someone who is probably diabetic. You just can't make this sh*t up! He then goes on to mansplain to readers that people with higher BMIs (a completely disputed measure of health to begin with) are more susceptible to heart disease and diabetes. (Because men who only like super-skinny women are mostly after their "good" health.)
Lang writes, "A little extra cushion for the pushin’ may have been ideal a few thousand years ago, but now we recognize that child-bearing hips aren’t worth much if she’s going to keel over from a heart attack a year from now."
Let's get one thing straight, Dr. Lang: You cannot tell how healthy a person is by looking at her. I repeat, you cannot tell how healthy a person is by looking at her. One more time for good measure: Fat does not automatically equal unhealthy. Plus, you just insulted your entire gender by implying that men think wide hips lead to imminent heart attacks. Come on, most dudes aren't that dumb.
Lang sympathetically adds, "This is admittedly pretty tough news for women, who already have plenty of mouthpieces telling them to be skinnier." **As he types, he imagines hoards of female readers running towards the nearest Jenny Craig upon hearing the "news."**
This, my friend, is admittedly pretty tough news for men who think their opinions determine women's self-worth. Sorry bros, they don't.
And, guess what? Nobody AskedMen.
Another trending newsflash: Women's bodies aren't trends.
Yes, Mr. Lang, you are correct that women do have plenty of mouthpieces telling us to be skinnier (and younger, and blonder, and simultaneously Kim Kardashianier, and probably curvier again in a week). But guess who fuels those mouthpieces and allows them to have so much power? Men who believe women's bodies take up space in this universe only in the capacity men allow them to. Men who don't realize that using a public platform to proclaim the importance of what men as a monolithic whole find attractive -- whether that is "skinny" or "curvy" or any other ideal -- are still placing parameters on which female bodies are acceptable. Redefining "attractive" over and over again from your perspective only stifles how women as a whole are empowered to feel about ourselves.
At HuffPost Women, it's part of our mission to show women that all bodies are good bodies -- but more importantly, that individuals are so much more than those bodies. As an adult, I wholeheartedly believe that's true. But in high school, or even college, an article like Lang's would have affected me negatively. It might have altered how I thought about the size of my ass or my waist or my arms -- and therefore about myself.
So please, AskMen, in the future.... don't. AskWomen instead. AskWomen what needs to change so that young girls don't grow up knowing their bodies are continually policed. AskWomen about everyday sexism and how hard it is to constantly combat forces that make us feel less than. AskWomen what you can do to end that cycle instead of perpetuating it.
And most of all, let us eat our freakin' Cheerios in peace. **refills bowl**
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