Amy Fortier

And they lived happily ever after?

Pierre Auguste Renoir, The Bathers

Once upon a time, it was okay, and in fact desirable to have a healthy amount of body fat. Somewhere along the way that became a fairy tale and the ideal body became skin and bones.

One thing about working at a gym is that I see women of all shapes and sizes changing their clothes in the locker room. I probably see more women in their skivvies than most doctors do. What I see is an incredible array of body types but not a single one that would fall into the cover model category. You know why? Because that body type doesn’t exist. As my Mom likes to say, “Giselle is an alien. I could fit inside her torso!”

Look at the painting above. I’d venture to guess that Renoir didn’t even think about removing those torso wrinkles or the little ab pooch he saw on his models. No, he painted those “flaws” as beautifully as any other part.  And yet I can’t help thinking that if I were enjoying a day of nude sunbathing at a beautiful park with my friends, I’d fall into a mini-depression if I saw those “rolls” on my person. Nothing like a little “friggin’ back fat” to ruin a good time.

I’d like to work on having a happier ending than that.

[If you’d like to read a little more about how our idea of female beauty has changed over the years and the effects it has had on our self image, check out this site where I found these images. It appears to be someone’s college project but it gives some history and facts about our changing views.]