According to the fashion and media powers that be, there are two types of women in this world: the super slim and the super size.
The former cut a model-like figure and are mainly found in magazines - why else do you think there are so many XXS sizes left on the sale rail? - while the latter are plus-size women who are somehow seen to be more ‘real’ than others.
But, in case anyone hadn’t noticed, there are a lot of women left unaccounted for - women that wear a UK size 10-14 who are doomed to dwell in body image No
WoMan’s Land, with hardly anyone in the public eye of similar bodily proportions to relate to.
If you find yourself in this middle ground (as many of us do) you’re swiftly ushered towards the lower end of the scales, encouraged to do squats, cut carbs and cry at the reflection of cellulite in the changing room mirror. A pressure which, although present all year round, becomes heightened in January.
On the flipside, women from either end of the spectrum are anything but free from bodily scrutiny.
While plus-size women are paraded around and applauded for sticking two fingers up at the pressures to lose weight, slim women are stripped of their femininity for not being 'real' or curvy enough (as HuffPost blogger Emma J Brooke outlined in her blog 'I'm A Real Woman, Too'.)
Tired of this divide over body shape and size, many women are calling for change.
HuffPost blogger Isabel Foxen Duke wants to create a new category of woman, where medium-sized women are accepted.
“I want models to exist between size 4 and size 12 [UK size 8 and 16],” she writes in her blog Ode To Medium-Sized Woman. “I want to be sold to.”
Jennifer Lawrence, pioneer for positive body image in Hollywood and all-round breath of fresh air, is also keen to make changes. Speaking to US Elle about preparing her body for The Hunger Games, she says she wanted "to look fit and strong—not thin and underfed.”
Natasha Devon, co-founder of positive body image campaign Body Gossip, agrees that body types that occupy the middle space are often overlooked and ignored by mainstream media.
One theory, she believes, is the multi-billion pound industry carved out of body shaming.
"We live in a culture where often only the extremes are represented and celebrated," she tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "This has lead to a dangerous 'all or nothing' mentality very similar to the binge/purge patterns of bulimia nervosa."
"The greatest lie that the media has sold us is that thinness and obesity is a choice between discipline and decadence," she adds. "If we eat all the food groups and exercise in moderation there are a number of ways our body might end up because there are many builds, metabolisms and body types out there in the world."
Rivkie Baum, editor of SLiNK (the UK's first plus-size fashion magazine) says, that although representing all body types would be the ideal scenario, implementing such diversity is easier said than done.
Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, she explains that fashion designers use set sample sizes for business purposes - it enables their products to be sent all over the world for use on multiple campaigns and runways.
The problem, she suggests, is also rooted in the way we consume fashion images and turn against each other.
"It's just a shame that an idea that is very much business focussed, has meant that women of different sizes are trolling each other for being too skinny or too big," she says. "Even though we're a modern, culturally diverse society we still can't deal with different body shapes and accept one another."
HuffPost UK Lifestyle are saying no to January (#SaynotoJan). Enough of the detoxing, cleansing and carb-cutting.
Our new year is about new beginnings and fresh, healthy attitudes to body image.
Speaking to US Elle for their December issue, Jennifer Lawrence pioneer for positive body image in Hollywood and all-round breath of fresh air says: <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/11/jennifer-lawrence-considered-a-fat-actress/" target="_blank">“I’m never going to starve myself for a part. I don’t want little girls to be like, ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner’…I was trying to get my body to look fit and strong—not thin and underfed.”</a>
After the media focused on her <a href="http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-body/news/lady-gaga-shows-off-25-pound-weight-gain-in-tight-outfit-2012229">alleged weight gain</a> in September 2012, Gaga hit back at critics by baring her body in photographs, sharing her struggles with an eating disorder, and inviting her fans to join her in a <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2012/09/26/lady-gaga-puts-bulimia-and-body-image-on-the-table-in-a-big-way/">"body revolution."</a>
Adele says she <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504803_162-57376080-10391709/adele-talks-about-her-body-image-and-weight/">tries not to worry</a> about her body image and doesn't want to be a "skinny minnie." "The first thing to do is be happy with yourself and appreciate your body -- only then should you try to change things about yourself."
"I am always in support of someone who is willing and comfortable in their own skin enough to embrace it," the singer said in a<a href="http://www.ianslive.in/index.php?param=news/Aguilera_wants_to_empower_women-389922/ENTERTAINMENT/15"> recent interview</a>.
At the 2012 New Yorker Festival, the magazine's TV critic, Emily Nussbaum, asked Lena Dunham, producer, creator and star of the hit HBO show "Girls," why <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/lena-dunham-new-yorker-festival-emily-nussbaum_n_1948596.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women">Dunham is naked in so many scenes</a>. Dunham responded, "I realized that what was missing in movies for me was the presence of bodies I understood." She said she plans to live until she is 105 and show her thighs every day.
Chung <a href="http://fashionista.com/2012/10/alexa-chung-on-her-upcoming-line-and-struggling-with-body-image/2/">responded to critics</a> who suggested that her slight frame made her a bad role model for young women, saying: "Just because I exist in this shape doesn't mean that I'm, like, advocating it."
The NYU student started the amazing <a href="http://thebodyloveblog.tumblr.com/">Body Love Blog</a>, where she posted this picture of herself and wrote an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stella-boonshoft/self-portrait-ask-me-why-_b_1987406.html" target="_hplink">open letter to those who feel entitled to shame others</a> for the size or look of their bodies.
This 5-foot-tall, 200-pound singer spoke openly about her weight to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/beth-ditto-talks-skinny-privilege-fiancee-body-image_n_2057290.html?utm_hp_ref=women&ir=Women">The Advocate</a>, saying, "I feel sorry ... for people who've had skinny privilege and then have it taken away from them. I have had a lifetime to adjust to seeing how people treat women who aren't their idea of beautiful and therefore aren't their idea of useful, and I had to find ways to become useful to myself."