Why is thin considered an "unattainalbe" standard of beauty in the US?

By thin, I actually mean height-weight proportionate, since different girls have different healthy BMI's.

(Fair warning: This is a rather politically-incorrect topic to discuss.)

Here in the US, a normal BMI is considered an unattainable standard and you'd be a jerk to be turned-off by someone of an unhealthy weight.

But for nearly everywhere else in the world, a normal BMI is the vast majority. Over 2 in 3 are at least overweight in the US, with about one in 3 being obese. Compared to most other nations where more like one in 3 are mildly overweight, and about one in 10 are obese.

If it's so unattainable, how come we are the only country that seems to have trouble with it? If it's "genetic", why has the obesity rate more than tripled since the 70's?

I have my own theories on this one. But I would just like to spark discussion, as this is a very stark problem here in the US.


Most Helpful Girl

  • I don't think thin is unattainable, it's more or less that everyone has their own definition of thin. Thin to one person could be someone like Miley Cyrus, or thin could be someone like Britney spears. It's all relative to how you look at it.

    I think instead of focusing on BMI, we all need to get people to learn how to eat healthy again and to get exercising. It's great to try and put a number on things, but we know that doesn't work.

    Plus there are people who one would think is healthy by looking at them, who are not mainly because of diet and lack of exercise. So the reason it's a touchy subject is that it's so subjective to begin with. It's hard not to step on anyone's toes when discussing something like this.

    I agree it is a problem, I myself am overweight. But I at least do something to combat it. I exercise and eat well. I am one of those people who has a health issue that causes my weight to be hard to control. But I manage it, and blood tests show I am healthy. But it's hard to see people who just don't care, who eat crap and don't want to exercise. But there really isn't anything I can do about it. Especially if that is their choice.

    The only time I can see thin being unattainable is when they are comparing a person to someone who has a drastically different body type. Like me for instance, I have broad shoulders, huge boobs, big butt, thick thighs, all natural. I can never be the same size as Miley Cyrus, not healthily anyway. I'll always have broad shoulders, and big boobs. My body is meant to be bigger, smaller than I am now, but bigger than Miley Cyrus. But Miley Cyrus looks healthy and is healthy, her frame is different than mine. So I think that is the problem when discussing it. Everyone is different, so it makes it hard to stick to one ideal, because there isn't one, there are several. A different ideal for each person.

    That's why I wish they would stop focusing on BMI alone and go look at it in conjunction with everything else. Look at blood pressure, look a cholesterol, look at blood sugar, body fat, etc. All together so that we have an idea of one's health over all.

    • Yeah, numbers ARE stupid when attached to topics like attraction. I suppose using "BMI" was misleading. I guess what I was referring to was the actual healthy body mass makeup for a given person.

      Because in my experience, it seems like the vast majority o overweight people will really let themselves go, then claim "well, this is MY healthy body type" And of course, I can tell you, 70% of the population is not "naturally" overweight.

      Good luck in your own healthy endeavors!

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What Girls Said 3

  • a normal BMI is far from unattainable. I think that most people do not idealize a healthy bmi, they idealize an unhealthy one. Most women consider this to beautiful: link

    and Victoria's secret models are also widely considered to have the ideal body. Every single Victoria's secret model has an underweight BMI. I agree that these beauty standards are very hard to attain (not Unattainable). A healthy BMI is easy to maintain (with healthy diet and exercise ) and it is not typically considered a standard of beauty.

  • People have their own different ideas of what "thin" is. What's thin and what's fat? I've seen people call perfectly normal sized girls fat because they werent as thin as other girls. Some people treat it like they're in a competition of who can be the thinnest. Is a size 6 not thin enough? Do you need to be a size 0 to be thin? It may sound absurd but I've seen girls lambasted over normal body shapes because there is always someone thinner to compare them to. That's what's unattainable. There is a difference between health and thinness. Some people think Beyonce is fat, but you can have her body type and be healthy. But compared to Gwyneth Paltrow, she isn't thin, so is she fat and unhealthy? Many people see someone like a victoria's secret model and think she is the picture of health. But their BMIs are extremely low and that is unrealistic for many women to get to and still be healthy. As far as obesity, I think we all know that's unhealthy. There's a difference between being obese and not having a megan fox body.

    • I certainly agree. It really is relative to the person themselves. But sometimes feel there is this underlying assumption that a healthy weight requires a vast effort and several gym memberships to achieve.

      If you're shooting for vikie's secret, it'll probably be hell. But a HEALTHY weight is where your body goes when you consume the calories you use. And that's certainly not the national average.

    • Show All
    • That is unfortunate. I'm an advocate for healthy bodies.

      Of course, what most people don't realize, is that guys standards are more lenient than the media implies. Modelling agencies are ultra-strict about body type, especially compared to the rest of men. And unfortunately, many girls seem to think THIS is the standards I or other men refer to, and hold themselves to this standard, which may be healthy for some, but not the majority.

    • Another thing to realize is that when I think of a healthy weight, I think around Kate Winslett, ellen page, ellen degeneres. (the first ones I could think of)

      But there are girls much heavier than healthy, claiming "this is my natural body type. I ain't changing a thing" which their self-confidence is admirable, but it also borders on denial.

  • beauty in the US is not about being healthy. normal BMIs aren't considered the beauty standard. The most beautiful women in the world today (as defined by the media and popular attention/agreement) mostly all have nearing unhealthy BMIs.

    Generally, in the US it looks like we're "trying" to make healthy the new beauty standard by promoting normal sized women (US sizes 8-14), but that's obviously not changing a single thing :p it sounds like you're talking about you're personal standards as opposed to the standards women and men are met with on a larger scale.

    we're an overweight country because we're infatuated with being weapons of mass consumption; we buy a lot of cheap, "yummy" food, we don't care about what's in our food, we use cars for everything, and we don't (and in some places we just can't) let our kids play outside to maintain health.


What Guys Said 5

  • Oh, it's only politically incorrect if you are a woman being rejected by a man for weight reasons; if it's the other way around, then meh, he's fat.

    It's not "unattainable", a lot of it is just being lazy and making a excuses to feel better about your large butt. Sure, there are some people that can't become super thin, that's understandable, but you see a lot of these fat f***s, many are in my own family, say sh*t like "Oh, well, it's a problem with my glands", "it's genetics", "it's impossible for me to get that size". It's all bullsh*t. Look at how many people bitch about being unable to become thin (or even toned), then look at those exact people and figure out how many of them have a nutritious diet and actually work out.

  • People are stressed out and also often whacked out in the US. Food for many people here is like alcohol to an alcoholic. They do't enjoy food somuch as seek an outlet for their unhappiness with it.

    Also, they don't value a good meal, its considered a waste of time to eat well. Most people go to fast food outlets often if not every day.

  • well

    there's plenty of young thin girls that get married and turn into cows. It's statistically proven that women gain vastly more weight than men do after the first year of marriage in the U.S. However, I don't know how that takes pregnancy into account...

    • Yeah, I'm pretty sure the weight of another human being inside you might sway the results a little. ;-P

  • this is because you're no longer supposed to make people feel bad about themselves this is the same reason we no longer keep score in little kids sports games in this country, its the feminization of the western world

  • An unattainable standard would be an endomorphic body type (pear shape, slow metabolism) trying to be a wiry ectomorph (thin frame, high metabolism).

    People have different body types and only certain ones are seen as ideal (mesomorphs for guys, ectomorphs for girls). Unfortunately you can't change your genetics. Of course, you can control your weight but it's harder for some than others.