Well Being

Why Gawking At Ioana Spangenberg’s 20-Inch Waist Isn’t Body Positive

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Why Gawking At Ioana Spangenberg s 20 Inch Waist Isn t Body Positive iona2 jpg

Ioana Spangenberg is a Romanian model with a 20-inch waist. According to various accounts on the internet, her body ranges anywhere from “natural” and “healthy” to “scary” to “freakish.” But regardless of what anyone has decided about her (based on one now-famous tabloid interview and some photos), no one can seem to stop staring–and it’s not healthy. Not for her or those who are gawking at her.

Plenty of people have speculated about how Spangenberg can be so thin (some even going as far as to classify her as anorexic), but in interviews, she swears she eats large meals and loads of junk food, and that she’s actively trying to gain weight. But eating mountains of cookies and pizza isn’t exactly the healthy alternative to an eating disorder.

Models and people in the fashion industry do this all time–trot out how much they eat, ensuring that they’re photographed, donut-in-hand, as if to say “No, no! We’re all quite healthy! No need to worry–just look at our very thin bodies with awe and envy, not concern.” Because as long as everyone says they’re eating, there’s no harm done, right?

Except that there is, to both models like Spangenberg, who has admitted to having low self-esteem and poor body image in the past, and to those who may look at her and think “Yup, I could do that.” Those who struggle with body image and eating disorders themselves can still be triggered by the celebration of her body (the fact that she swears by eating junk food doesn’t help; a lot of anorexics make the same defense). And those who would be concerned about her weight are preemptively reassured: She’s just intriguing, not worrisome.
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Either way, gawking at her 20-inch waist isn’t body positive for anyone.

And yet, it seems unavoidable. Our freak-show mentality and obsession with “good” and “bad” bodies draws people to stare at the outliers out of curiosity, disgust, or envy–whether they’re very thin or very large. (My 600 Pound Life has a few weeks left of its run and is getting pretty great ratings.) But with Spangenberg, we seem unable to make up our mind–is her body “good,” or is it “bad”?

We’re supposed to believe that she’s “naturally” thin, survives on junk food, and wishes she could gain weight. We’re meant to feel comforted that even women who are impossibly slender, too, have negative self-esteem…Celebrities! They’re just like us! We’re supposed to laud her efforts to “fatten up,” despite the fact that her diet sounds anything but healthy.

As for Spangenberg, putting her body on display is hardly seems like a great way to boost her self-esteem. Even if she does have better self-esteem than she did in the past, surely being called “the hourglass woman” and reading hurtful comments and headlines about her body don’t make her feel better. And it isn’t healthy for anyone else either.

Want to continue the discussion? Take our poll about Ioana Spangenberg right over here

Image: The UK Sun