Our Desire for the Ideal Body

Why Can’t We Give up the Notion of the Ideal Body?

Conversations on body image and beauty are more complex than ever. Why is it still so hard to talk about body inclusivity?

A few years ago, it seemed like the trajectory of body diversity and inclusivity could only continue going upward. Across several major industries—particularly fashion, beauty, entertainment, and music—we witnessed an incredible surge of representation for bodies of all sizes, skin tones, gender expressions, ages, and abilities. Plus-size models walked top designers’ runways! Disabled models starred in luxury campaigns! Trans models showed up on billboards—and not just in the month of June! Finally, it seemed, the industries that long felt like the exclusionary gatekeepers of the “ideal body” now seemed to welcome all bodies, reflecting their diverse consumer bases.

Then, came the backlash—or, perhaps more accurately, a quiet retreat back into the beauty standards of the ‘90s and ‘00s. As low-rise jeans and Y2K fashion made their comebacks, so returned the ultra-thin ideal. As journalist Gianluca Russo noted in September 2022 for The Zoe Report, plus-size representation in New York Fashion Week has seen a razor-sharp decline. And, despite the Fenty effect leading to an industry-wide expectation of base makeup to have 40- and 50-shade ranges, Black models continue to experience discrimination on sets, with many still bringing their own foundations and concealers just in case the makeup artist’s case doesn’t carry the right colors for their skin tones. In 2023, another major shift arrived: The releases of Ozempic and similar treatments marked revolutionary developments and supported the long-held stance of many medical professionals and advocates that obesity is a matter of biology, not willpower—sparked frenzied responses, from debate and confusion to corporate pivoting.

None of these are easy or simple conversations. They all contribute to a larger dialogue that many activists, academics, writers, and regular folks have carried on, despite it seeing fewer headlines nowadays. We’ve brought together several stories by writers exploring the complexities of these issues, and shed light on their less-discussed elements. Now, the only question: How will you participate in the body-inclusivity conversation?

Read them all at by clicking here:

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If you are a female martial arts trainer or practitioner or student, please write to us by email to editor@TaiJutsu.art and let us know how we can help you better integrate in the martial arts community.