Quit making plans for your skinnier self

Do you ever make plans for your future, skinnier self? 

Those plans that start with something like, "When I lose five kilos, I'll do..." Or, "When I'm a size eight, I’ll go and…” 

Sure, there are the plans you make for certain outfits. That special pair of jeans, that red dress, or that ensemble you managed to squeeze into before having two kids. 

Then there are the plans you make thinking your current self isn't the right size or image to pursue a particular venture or ambition. 

I wonder how many women get trapped in this marketing prison telling us that beauty, success and worthiness belongs to a certain size, because I've certainly come across plenty of examples. 

There's the woman who told me she was waiting to be the "right fit" before pursuing a new career in health and wellbeing. 

Another who said she had to lose a certain number of kilos before applying to enrol in a new course. 

And another who told me she wouldn't join a gym or exercise in public until she'd put in enough hours on the exercise bike in her garage to see a certain amount of "narrowing of the thighs". That one seemed particularly impossible, and I wondered if she'd ever see the light of day again — not because her thighs were so large, but because her ideal circumference was so unrealistic.

And these are just the people who speak up about such future body-weight-dependent plans, I'm sure there are many, many more of us who only share such thoughts in our own heads.

I thought about these women after hearing Chelsea Bonner interviewed on the ABC this morning, as she urged women not to “wait” to become a certain size before enjoying life. Her comments were followed by ABC News Breakfast host Virginia Trioli who noted that waiting will get us nowhere: "The starter gun has gone off, just get going,” she said.

Chelsea Bonner is the subject of tonight's Australian Story and says she’s on a mission to change how the fashion industry portrays beauty, size and body image. Her Bella Model Management supports models who represent something closer to the average Australian female body — indeed she claims a good 80% of us fall somewhere between a size 10 and 16, but the average size of a model is between a six and a 10. 

Bonner's agency represents 65 “plus size” models including supermodel Robyn Lawley, who at 183 centimetres and a size 14 recalls regularly being told at castings that “you’re so beautiful but you’re just not right”. Lawley’s since been on the covers of Italian Vogue, French Elle and featured across a number of international magazines. 

She’s the ultimate success story, according to Bonner, who wants women to know that “just because they’re a size 14 doesn’t mean they’re not aspirational and inspirational”. 

It's not only weight and size that women wait for. I believe many of us wait on certain artificial milestones to occur before we pursue particular dreams and ambitions (I've written an entire book on it) but the 'weight waiting game' is possibly the most detrimental there is. 

It hurts our self esteem, our happiness, our levels of satisfaction and ultimately our health. It holds us back from getting started, it sets up barrier that don’t exist, telling us certain goals are unachievable simply because of the flesh on our bones. 

It’s also a conversation we’ve been having for decades, and something many a fashion magazine editor and fashion designer have promised to do his or her bit in order to help try and stop. 


And yet here we are, still trying to meet a body-image expectation that an industry — rather than the medical profession — tells us is healthy, beautiful and successful. 

Angela Priestley

Angela Priestley is the Publisher and founding editor of Women's Agenda. She's an author, journalist and passionate advocate for workplace gender equality and diversity. Her first book is Women Who Seize the Moment.

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