Body Shape, Fashion & Social Media
It’s a cliché, but our bodies really do come in all shapes and sizes, which is why attempts to bundle them into a few set categories can be unhelpful at best and potentially harmful at worst. I do understand why people put body types into categories though (normally the fruit kind). At a quick glance this way of categorising can act as a visual shorthand; a way to describe the shape in a less technical or scientific way. This might be easier for some people to relate to.
Throughout this, we have to take into account our mental wellbeing, and we can’t underestimate the effect that our mental health may have on our physical health, and vice versa. I feel that social media has such a huge part to play in how we think and feel about ourselves, which is normally negative, especially when we’re seeing things that a) aren’t realistic, and b) aren’t real! This is one of my biggest reasons for wanting to encourage and celebrate all body shapes and sizes. I spent countless teenage years absolutely loathing the way I naturally looked, and now that I’m finally starting to appreciate my body, I want to encourage others to do the same.
In my view, there’s a lot to be said for feeling comfortable in your own skin, and it’s important to understand that our standards of beauty shift and change all the time. So with that in mind, let’s look a little at body types, busting some long held myths along the way.
What are the three body types?
There’s a long-held belief that the human body can be split into three ‘somatotypes’. Ectomorph (slim and usually tall), mesomorph (muscular), and endomorph (larger and usually short). In fact, this idea is still taught in physical education classes.
These descriptions are already quite restrictive, and you should know that this theory was developed by a psychologist, not a physiologist, who then linked each of the types to specific psychological traits, and argued that they are indicators of temperament, intelligence, and future achievement.
If this smacks of pseudoscience to you, that’s because it is, and the theory is largely discredited.
Apples and Pears
Slightly less damaging than a discredited scientific theory inspired by eugenics are the common descriptions of ‘apple shape’ or ‘pear shape’ or ‘hourglass’ which are usually applied to female bodies.
These phrases are also inevitably reductive, but they are seen to have some utility in the world of fashion, helping people to pick clothes that better ascribe to their bodies’ curves in a quick and easy to understand way.
• Apple – Waist typically larger or a similar size to the hips.
• Pear – Hips usually wider than waist (this is me!!).
• Hourglass – Wide hips and bust, smaller waist.
• Rectangular – Similar sized shoulders and hips.
• Inverted triangle – Broad shoulders that narrow towards your hips.
Check out these below celebrities who tend to be categorised online as the above body types:
Anyone delving into these types will quickly find that there’s plenty more than just five. Our bodies are unique from person to person, and in my view, attempts to categorise them, while sometimes useful, will inevitably fall into the trap of trying to give names to each of our bodies’ infinite configurations.
I recognise that my body shape tends to fall towards the pear-shape type, that’s the shape I relate to the most anyway from the list above (larger hips, smaller bust, etc, etc, etc). To add to this, I’m just shy of 5 foot 2 inches too, so I’m petite as well. Going forward in 2023, I will be blogging some of my fashion experiences as a “petite, pear-shaped, body-loving, self-confident, positive, curve embracing female.” But for the time being, I just thought it’d be a good idea to do a little introductory blog.
To end this mini blog, the most important thing, and definitely the most useful thing, is recognising that our individuality is beautiful, and all body shapes are worth appreciating. YOU ARE GORGEOUS.