Eating coach Katie Seaver was having a typical email conversation with her friend when it turned into an enlightening moment revealing society's ingrained perception of body image. It was in response to Seaver saying that, despite being pretty content with her body, like many others, she could still stand to magically lose a few extra pounds, according to a piece she wrote for the Huffington Post.
Her friend pointed out what Seaver called "minimalist bodies," or the idea of people striving to be thinner than they are because that's what society has made synonymous with "wealth" and happiness. Many people feel like their weight now equals their worth.
"Basically, I can only imagine that for anyone in that category — you, me, a dozen friends — if you want to lose weight it's because societal beauty norms are completely messed up and yet so deeply ingrained," her friend wrote. "When one already feels healthy and basically good in their bodies, and only has 5-10-15 lbs to lose, then those 5-10-15lbs of potential weight loss are entirely social constructs."
Society places crushing standards on women, according to Seaver's friend, such as the belief that "thinner is more beautiful, has her act together in life in ways others don't, is more desirable, is to be envied. Everyone else in the 5-10-15 lbs range, who can pinch a little skin around the waist and who has thighs that touch, is a bit of a schlub (physically and morally, in their career and social capital)."
Seaver believes that historically, having lots of possessions was considered desirable, but these days, as her friend conveys, it's all about proving that someone can be minimal, "elegant" and composed.
Seaver was "overwhelmed" at the revelation, but realized that it's true. If people didn't equate leanness with "moral, social and psychological purity," as her friend put it, then the idea of losing those last five pounds wouldn't matter.