The discussion of female body image in the media— and I refer here to the discussion being in the media, though the bodies we are discussing are as they are represented in the media as well, media media media now I’ve said it enough and it doesn’t even mean anything anymore— is a delicate and nuanced one. On one hand, the more important hand (I think), we have a greater diversity in the kinds of women we see in magazines and movies and music videos and so on. Hooray! It would be impossible for me to exaggerate the value in this, and anyone who tries to dismiss it has not spent years as a young girl/preteen/teen trying to seek validation by way of any onscreen familiarity and always, heartbreakingly, failing.
On the other hand, the nagging hand, we have the reporting of this trend. Which just brings up so many problems! Like how a woman’s body shouldn’t warrant journalistic attention, how it’s just another unsolicited spotlight and another way to attach women to their “body types” (“Rubenesque”, “curvy”, “filled-out”, “plus-sized” all get dropped within the article), how the whole point of the Lena Dunham quote is that the preoccupation with weight is an unhealthy and unnecessary one and yet here we are writing features focused on weight (and blog posts focused on those features). In an ideal world, these women could exist as they are and we wouldn’t have to write or read about it because we wouldn’t think it was a big deal to begin with, and we shouldn’t. But of course it is! Because it is. For now, at least, until it isn’t, until it’s just the norm and when are we getting to that day, is it soon?
I’d just like to think that it’s so much more powerful in its Big-Deal-ness when it is quiet, without ceremony, without preface or explanation. The women on the screen know what they’re doing. The girls who are watching know that it is helping. The fact that Lena Dunham and Mindy Kaling are stars of their own shows is a victory, a small one, so now let’s everyone honor that by just shutting up about it.