By Sylvia Benevides
Someone asked me the other day “would you rather be healthy or thin”? Before I answered out loud, I briefly scanned my brain for the right answer. But what WAS the right answer? Either way I responded, I was going to be judged. I had every reason to answer “thin”. You see, I’m 5’3” and very round and curvaceous. If I lived in Hollywood, Jennifer Lopez’ butt would look more like Angelina Jolie’s compared to mine. I keep telling myself that if celebrities can make a living off of their generous assets, why shouldn’t I at least learn to love what I’ve got?
In 2010, many fashion magazines began to feature plus-size models. And by plus-size, I mean size 10-12. I know, you’re thinking “but I’M a size 10 and I’m not plus-size”!!! This is what celebrity watching has done to us. Anytime we see a plus size model in the pages of a magazine, we take notice. She doesn’t look like any of the other models….she looks…..normal. Why are we so quick to sensationalize celebrities? We need to realize by doing so, we’re making life harder on ourselves. It’s their job to look a certain way – thin and starving. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve tried it all – fad diets, fad exercise programs, and yes, just not eating at all. How do the celebs do it, I wondered. I can’t even get out of my car without wanting to pass out because I was STARVING!! So needless to say, none of the above worked for me. The only thought that starvation left me with was “who decided that anorexic models were beautiful and worthy of modelling expensive designer clothes”? Why weren’t we celebrating “normal” looking models in the expensive clothes? Isabelle Caro, a French 28-year old model died of Anorexia in November 2010. Notoriety surrounded her when she appeared in a controversial ad campaign hoping to bring awareness to the disorder. Many countries went on to ban the ad campaign entirely.
Hopefully this signifies a step in the right direction. Society is consumed by the media – from reality television to magazines to daily entertainment shows celebrating the latest celebrity to have had gastric bypass surgery. I’ll take a croissant over passing out any day.
I came to the realization that I would have to love my body the way it is. It’s the only one I’ve got, so might as well. Instead of stressing to fit into a pair of skinny jeans, I dress for my body type. Instead of learning how to survive on lettuce leaves and supplements all day, I took the time to learn what makes me feel great when I dress my body appropriately. I also had to realize that just because a certain piece is in fashion, does not mean I can wear it!! I also realized there are many activities I could participate within my community that will help me stay fit and healthy.
Working with many different clients, I see all types of bodies. Everyone is different. But there is one constant that lies within each individual – body image issues. We’ve all had different upbringings, you might have been the sister that had the “weight issues” or the daughter who often felt inferior to her mother. Whatever the reason may be, you need to get over it. This will allow you to look at yourself in the mirror and celebrate who you are, not who you aren’t.
Reading through this article, you might have guessed that my answer all along was “to be healthy”. Without my health, I wouldn’t be able to raise my two girls. Not just raise them, but be the first and lasting role model for them.
Celebrate life, and being healthy, and most of all get inspired and get styled!
Sylvia Benevides has always had a knack for fashion. No matter what the occasion, she is able to determine which pieces work best to create a complete and stylish outfit for any individual. Get Styled specializes in showing you how to dress your body and project the image you want with clothes that fit your personality and lifestyle.
Sylvia is a graduate of the Image Consulting program at George Brown College and has become certifed in Image Management from the International Image Institute in Toronto. She is also a member of the Association of Image Consultants International.
Sylvia lives in Georgetown, Ontario with her husband Joe and daughters Sierra and Savannah. She hopes her daughters will have her fashion DNA and carry on the “family business”.