Image Map

Internet Crush: My Body Gallery

No matter what size you are, chances are you've been made to feel self-conscious about it (thanks, mass media!). With the useless-yet-pervasive BMI and our cultural obsession with the heights and weights and dress sizes of various celebrities, we live in a world where size statistics carry a lot of, well, weight.

They don't leave much room for variables, either. While we might know full well that in real life being 5'4" and weighing 180 pounds doesn't look the same on one person as it does the next, it can be difficult not to internalize those numbers and let them mean more than they should. That's where My Body Gallery can help.

An interactive photo gallery meant to show us "what real women look like," My Body Gallery lets users browse photos based on height, weight, body shape, and clothing size to get a sense how variable these numbers really are. Users are also encouraged to upload their own photos, adding to the already diverse database of images available on the site. Here's but a sampling of what I got when I searched for the earlier example of 5'4" and 180 pounds:

12 photos of women fitting the search descriptions who all have very different body shapes and sizes

While I'm not sure how I feel about most of the faces being blacked out (it looks like that's left up to individual choice, so at least it's avoiding the headless fatties phenomenon), it's striking to see the differences in shape and size here among women who are all the same height and weight. The more we can break down these notions of who should weigh what and what a 200-pound or a 100-pound or a 500-pound woman really looks like, the better off we'll be.

From My Body Gallery:

This is a place for women to post their true and accurate pictures. And for other women to see that the world is not a place of cookie cutters. We are all different in our body shape and size as well as our place in our journey to loving our bodies exactly as they are, not as we (or others) think they should be.

It is a place for us to be kind to others and ourselves.

Check it out, and consider adding your own photo to the gallery!

Bitch Media publishes the award-winning quarterly magazine, Bitch:Feminist Response to Pop Culture. Pitch in to support feminist media: Subscribe today

Subscribe to Bitch


Comments

6 comments have been made. Post a comment.

Wonderful

I love it, but I wonder if they could include men at some point. Now obviously, men aren't subjected to as much of the "YOUR BODY SHOULD LOOK LIKE THIS" messages, but there's still a level of it, in different ways. I have a very hard time even talking about my body, much less showing any of it, so it would be nice if I could see what my proportions are without the bias of having convinced myself that I'm gross and misshapen.

Men and Body Image, too

Patrick,
I agree. I think this site is wonderful. My boyfriend confides thoughts of "gross and misshapen" with me, as well. At 5'6 and 270 lbs, he sees the David Beckhams and Channing Tatums and wonders if he is attractive. We share this bond, unfortunately. :)

Fascinating, but missing something major!

Holy crap. My gut reaction was that there was NO WAY those skinny chicks were 5'10"/160lbs. Then I realized I haven't stopped seeing myself as the 195lbs that I was 15yrs ago, even though other people often refer to me as "thin" and I wonder what they smoked for lunch. Huh. A real eye opener, and one that I will share LOTS.

However, my biggest body issue (both good and bad) is my boobage, and I'm pretty sure a majority of women have similar issues. I would love to be able to put in 30H and see what that looks like on different women and how I might perceive them and how that might change my self image. Maybe a happy accident would be that women could see what a 30H looks like and stop going to the mall to get 38DDs. . .

There is a pretty great "Normal Breasts Gallery" at http://www.007b.com/breast_gallery.php, but since they are really just close-ups of naked breasts, you can't get the same contextual information you get from seeing the whole person, and clothing actually helps sometimes.

Maybe I'll do a Last Thursday photo booth for boobs and make my own gallery. . .

There were actually 2 pictures where I was like

"Oh My God someone put a picture of me up!" And then I realized that no it isn't me. I really liked this!

I have always considered

I have always considered myself to be a skinny banana. Whenever I do online quizzes to see what kind of skirt or dress I should buy to suit my shape, I always score as "boyish", a "rectangle", a "ruler", a "banana", or a "pencil." The clothes I buy when following these types suit me, but it doesn't do much for my self-esteem to be branded as such.

At first, I didn't like how this website categorised women's bodies in the same way. My Body Gallery has apples, pears, hour glasses, and bananas for display. I revised my opinion of this dislike after I looked at women who had the same measurements as me (same height, same weight) and same bananary idea of themselves.

I have always been self-conscious of, even ashamed of, being slim and not being curvy. (I should note that I recognise that if I were curvy, I might still not be happy with myself and wish I were slimmer!) Everyone in the images looked good, and I felt good looking at them. But the most beautiful thing was that no one was trying to make them change: they weren't striving to be anything else other than how they are. In magazines, most images of "real" bodies are contained within a narrative of change: the bodies are mostly befores and afteres, a project to be build upon and constantly tweaked and improved and fussed over.

My Body Gallery shows people as they are. Not people with a line drawn between them and their bodies, but embodied human beings.

What came next was an "aha!" moment.

I decided to click on the "hour glass" shape. Admittedly I did so with a sinking feeling because I was expecting to see more curves and to feel bad about my (boyish and rectangular) self. In reality, there wasn't much difference between the hour glass girls and the banana ladies. It really is how you see and feel about yourself. It took a website like this to make that click hard.

Great site

What a great idea. Like a lot of people, I see myself more like the ladies who are 20 kilos heavier than me. And I see the ladies of all different sizes and think they're amazing. I'm going to tell my friends about it and put my picture up when I get home!