The Dove ladies

by Kel Morin Parsons,

All sorts of things intersect with popular culture, which is one of the reasons why it’s become a particularly fascinating thing in an age of hyper-connected communication. There is so much to which to react, so much that has the potential to affect us, however briefly. And, if you’re female, there’s so much more out there to make you feel bad about yourself and your life, remind you that you are, probably, inadequate, and that virtually every other woman really has her life together while you don’t. Right?

I like to think that I’m sufficiently old, dorky, and apathetic enough not to let most of that stuff get to me. But, like a lot of women, I have “body issues”, and, also like a lot of women, most of them are connected to my weight. I am clinically overweight; that is, technically, according to the actuarial tables, etc., I weigh more than I should. Unlike some women I know, I’m not angry at the world about this. It’s no mystery why I weigh too much: I eat too much, you see. Having said that, I know that you would not look at me and think, “Holy liftin’; that sister’s really gotta shift some pounds.” I also know that my particular model (which we call “curvy”, because we’re not allowed to say “plump” or anything anymore) is surprisingly popular with men. I mean nice men—you know, men with jobs and hair and all their own teeth.

Nevertheless, I seek to be slimmer, and certainly do feel a degree of frustration when I see rags like The Daily Mail full of pictures of women—often women with several children—who are slimmer and more toned than I know I’ll ever be. Yes, yes, I know—serves me bloody right for reading the Mail.

But at the beginning of this month the Guardian featured this article:

I wonder what everyone thinks of this. I haven’t actually read these anticipated works, mind you, and I do think it’s great that there is now an expansion (pardon the pun) in this market. But is it good to be that “accepting”? Of others, of course, that shouldn’t be a question—but should those of us who have, say, genuine weight issues just tell ourselves that hey, it’s us, we should just accept it and the world had better do so, too? Or should we be looking for more initiatives of this chick-lit sort as we get collectively bigger and more issue-laden?

Interested to hear what you think.


  1. Interesting post Kel. I'm of two minds here - certainly advertisers see the monetary benefits in expanding their marketing campaigns, and product lines to reflect/include women of all shapes and sizes - however I also think it benefits women as well - because it does get tiresome to see actresses on TV who are botoxed to within an inch of their lives. I was reading an article a while back in the NY Times about the CBC Show Being Erika - it was quite complimentary of the show and its characters - who looked like real people. Imagine that! Thanks! ;D

  2. I'm a person who cares not a jot about how I look, so it's very lucky I don't have to worry about paparazzi stealing pix of me in my horrifying grocery store get-ups. I applaud the new line of books which feature curvey chicks. We are all sizes, all shapes, so it's always nice to read about a main character you can relate to sometimes, instead of a character you'd like to be.

    Health issues are one thing, looks are another. If a woman has weight issues, they exist for a number of reasons, and just like quitting smoking, if it were so easy to lose weight, everyone would be skinny. In the meantime, while on that road to losing some inches, it can be a laugh to read about a character whose body type is more typical than atypical.

  3. I agree with Julia. There's a difference between health and looks. If you need to lose weight/be thinner/whatever because your health is at stake, then you gotta do something. But if you need to lose weight just because you're on the dating market and 'apparently' 98% of the available male population won't look at you coz you're no Barbie - well, who needs a guy like that in the first place?

    Off to check that guardian article. Agree though - we need more realistic heroines (along the lines of, she's got lumps and bumps, cellulite, adult acne, wears glasses, etc!)



  4. This is the thing--just what we mean when we say "real". Because when we say "real", we mean it in a good way--this is what healthy, reasonable, pleasant women are like. The thing is, in the western world we're seeing a genuine increase in the "reality" of serious overweight. I'm ambivalent about just saying, "Well, that's real", and leaving it at that. The line between vanity and health is a lot more blurry than we think it is. I'm just not sure at what point "acceptance" becomes simply "giving up"! :-D

    Thanks, ladies!


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