Chloe Marshall is a plus size model who recently won the title of Miss Surrey, making her the first size 16 contestant to become a finalist for the Miss England title.
I think she is beautiful and I am excited, though not hopeful, about the changes she may bring help bring about in the fashion industry.
There are those that are hard on Chloe due to her weight. They claim she is a poor role model because she is saying it’s okay to be fat. Funny thing about that…her BMI is 25.3 (not the 26.3 being reported. If you take her height, 5’10”, and her weight, 176 pounds, and plug them into a BMI calculator, you will see that she is at 25.3), which puts her right on the line between healthy and overweight. So she’s either at the top of healthy or just barely overweight. Seems like a pretty good role model to me. She’s not grossly overweight and therefore telling teen girls it’s okay to be irresponsible with their eating and exercise but she’s also not giving these same girls an unrealistic expectation of beauty. She is, in fact, a model of the average American (or English, as she is from England) girl.
There are more overweight people than underweight people; I won’t deny that. But there are also a lot more people who feel ashamed for their bodies and feel pressured to become something or someone they are not. There are a lot of mentally unhealthy people out there. I personally believe one can not be healthy between the scalp and the feet until they are healthy between the ears. What good does living until you are 89 do you if you are miserable and self loathing the entire time? Who wouldn’t rather live until 70 but have loved themselves and their life for most of it? I would prefer that. Of course I would prefer to live until 89 and have loved every minute of it but if I had to choose, I’d rather be happy and short lived than miserable and long lived.
Teen suicide is on the rise again, raising from 6.7 percent of 100,000 teen deaths in 2003 to 9.4 percent of 100,000 teen deaths in 2007. 1. The CDC reports:
• 16.9% of students, grade 9-12, seriously considered
suicide in the previous 12 months (21.8% of females
and 12.0% of males) (Eaton et al. 2006).
• 8.4% of students reported making at least one suicide
attempt in the previous 12 months (10.8% of females
and 6.0% of males) (Eaton et al. 2006).
• 2.3% of students reported making at least one suicide
attempt in the previous 12 months that required
medical attention (2.9% of females and 1.8% of
males) (Eaton et al. 2006).
Female suicide thoughts and attempts are higher than their male counterparts. After the onset of puberty – after age 15 – girls and women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as boys and men. (The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, M.D. p 53 and The National Institute of Mental Health.) There is a physical reason for this. Female hormones are much more cyclic than men’s but I wonder how much has to do with self image.
I know that I personally struggled with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. I usually attributed such feelings to my weight. I know that the more television I watched, the more I succumbed to poor self esteem. The more magazines I flipped through and the more I focused on “beautiful” models and compared myself to them, the more embarrassed and stressed I became about my body. I just wonder what these statistics would look like if the “height of beauty” were a little more realistic. I want to remind all my readers that the average American woman is 5’4″ tall and 154 pounds while the average American fashion model is 5’10” and 117 pounds.
There was a recent study done that brought into question the “fat but fit” theory. Their study was based on nearly 39,000 women. They filled out a questionnaire on their level of activity (which is questionable to me because most people think they are far more active than they really are but oh well). The study, which based normal-weight/overweight/obese on BMI (20-25 being normal, 26-30 being overweight, and over 30 being obese) found that: “Compared with normal-weight active women, the risk for developing heart disease was 54 percent higher in overweight active women and 87 percent higher in obese active women. By contrast, it was 88 percent higher in overweight inactive women; and 2 1/2 times greater in obese inactive women.”
So, while being active while overweight does not remove your heightened risk of heart disease, it does lower it considerably from being inactive and overweight. Having regular exercise takes an overweight woman’s risk from 88% to 54%. That’s a 39% drop just by being active. If you are obese and active, your risk drops from 250% to 87 (lower than the overweight inactive group). That is a 65% reduction in risk.
So if you are overweight, start moving your body. “Women were considered active if they followed government-recommended guidelines and got at least 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week, including brisk walking or jogging. Women who got less exercise than that were considered inactive.” 2.
I was interested to see the statistics on underweight women’s risk factors for heart disease. We all know being overweight increases your risk. There are a lot more over weight than underweight people and so obesity is what’s been studied and reported about. I wonder what the underweight stats are. Are they higher or lower? I think of Luisel Ramos, Uruguayan model, who died of heart failure at the age of 22 after starving herself.
A simple Google search on “underweight heart disease risk” brought me some answers. Being underweight is unhealthy, too. The Scandinavian Journal of Public Health found that while being overweight or obese created more risk factors than being of a healthy weight, being underweight increased your risks as well.
Another study, this time from the Journal of the American Medical Association, came to basically the same conclusion. “Underweight and obesity, particularly higher levels of obesity, were associated with increased mortality relative to the normal weight category.”
What I would really like to see on television (when I watch it) and in magazines and commercials and on the big screen, is some women who are of a healthy weight. How about some women with a BMI between 20 and 25? Let’s start putting them in the lime light and setting them as our “role” models, if we must have some. Instead of setting ourselves up to fail, let’s have some realistic goals and maybe we’ll be able to walk back the “obesity epidemic.”
I hope that Chloe Marshall becomes the first size 16 model to become Miss England and go on to become the first to be titled Miss Universe. I hope that whoever judges these competitions are open minded enough to see that beauty is not conformity. And maybe, if England catches on, the rest of the world will follow. Maybe the U.S. will be next. Wouldn’t that be nice?