DEAR OPRAH

Dear Oprah,

Recently, an article appeared on everyone’s favourite destination for procrastination, Buzzfeed. Write Tamar Anitai had spotted possibly one of the saddest things I have ever laid eyes on in your magazine. 

Somehow, the writers, publishers, editors and all who work at your supposedly prestigious publication failed to spot this, frankly worrying, error and let it float out of the printers and into the laps of unsuspecting readers. Apparently, having the slightest bit of chub, fat, excess skin or anything else on your stomach deems you totally unacceptable to wear a crop top. Well, bugger me. The last time I checked, women are able to wear whatever the hell they like. You could be as thin as a rake or positively Rubens-esque and frankly Oprah, if they think they look great, then I think they look great.

The irony of this whole debacle is the great lengths that your publication has supposedly gone to in the past to supposedly help banish body-shaming….

“The truth is, many of us are in abusive relationships with our bodies, internally beating ourselves up every time we gain a few pounds, externally jeopardizing our health with crash diets, binge eating, even serious surgeries...Our culture, with its fixation on subzero supermodels and the invasion of Botox, clearly belongs to the young and the fleshless. (Do we really need a movie to remind people that real women have curves?)” - Liz Brody, Oprah.com, 2003

(I’m going to go off on a tangent here - real women don’t just have curves, they can have angles, round bits, soft bits, hard bits, bits that stick out and bits that go in. ALL women are real women, FYI.)

In the US alone, 20 million women and 10 million men have suffered or are suffering from a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their life (Wade, Keski-Rahkonen, & Hudson, 2011). Doesn’t that scare you, Oprah? Surely a figure like that (and that’s not counting every other country in the world) would make you, a woman of significant influence and power, dedicate your influence to ensuring that that number never increases?

Now I’m not blaming you entirely for any of those cases and please don’t think that I am, there are plenty of reasons that these people are unfortunate to suffer from eating or body-dysmorphic disorders. But the fact is we live in a world where the media has more of an impact than we ever could have imagined 10 or 20 years ago. It’s up to all of us, and especially those with a superior level of influence (I’m talking about you here Oprah), to use the media in a way that will help people all over the world embrace every single cell they are made of and make the most of them.

Whether they chose to bare all or cover up, that’s entirely up to THEM. Not you. Not me. No one should ever be forced into wearing something because they are ashamed to express themselves. You may not think it’s attractive, and that’s ok, everyone is entitled to an opinion. But if they feel fabulous and confident then let them do so, they aren’t hurting you or anyone else. In a world where we are constantly being belittled and forced into thinking that one way of being is better than another, it’s about time that someone decided to just let us all be and enjoy who we are. At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to look like a human.

Now, just like you Oprah, I don’t really tend to wear crop tops. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my body, I dress a certain way and like it. But for once, I’m going to throw caution to the wind and pop one on, just to prove a little point. I have never in my life had a flat stomach, and for once, this post has made me proud of it. So please do take a gander below at myself and Pretty Normal Me founder Em, sticking a quite literal two fingers up to your standards.

Now Oprah, you may question why we chose to flick the V. Well, instead of shouting, swearing (verbally) and losing track of the argument, we believe the meaning behind the gesture illustrates our point perfectly. In years gone by, flicking the V was a symbol of unity in WWII. Churchill did it in the war and now we're doing it in 2015. The V stood for Victory and we believe that although we haven't won the war (yet!), this is one battle where we can say we will be victorious. Together, the Pretty Normal Team and our Pretty Normal Readers are standing together in the fight against body-shaming and you know what? We won’t stop until we win. 

At this point, people are probably expecting me to ask you to #RockTheCrop as a sort of punitive measure of apologising, but I’m not going to. Do you know why? Choice. That’s why. Because no one should be forced into feeling like they must do something to fit in with the crowds or to be accepted as what you deem ‘normal’.

Here at Pretty Normal Me (you should take a look at some of our other posts, I promise they make for a rather good read), we are firm believers that there’s no such thing as a definition of normal. Defining normal is simply stating to yourself what makes you feel good and how you go about doing it. Perhaps, dear Oprah, you should take a leaf out of our books and encourage women of all shapes and sizes, colours, races and religions to embrace their own normal, not yours.

Oprah, if anything’s a bad look, it’s body-shaming…

Yours normally,

Pretty Normal Francesca