Discovered via The Hairpin, a new website where you can view photos of real women the same height, weight and body type as you. Fill in any or all of the categories—in addition to height and weight, you can enter shirt size, pant size or whether you’re ‘apple,’ ‘pear,’ ‘banana,’ or ‘hourglass’ shaped—and My Body Gallery will pull up a gaggle of user-submitted images from women within that same range. The idea is to provide a place for women “to see that the world is not a place of cookie cutters,” according to the site; to show not how women ‘should’ look, but ‘how we DO look.’ And unlike those ‘hot-or-not’ or guessing game sites, there’s no rating or guessing involved (thank goodness).
It’s still pretty new, and at the moment there’s a much higher proportion of teenaged girls and very young women than women of other ages. There’s an easy way to remedy this, though: If you are not a teen girl, go submit your photo, and encourage not-teen-girl friends to do the same! You can be as anonymous as you want to be (submit a photo with your head cut off, for instance, or use the site’s tools to black-bar your face or any identifying details), and photos can show your body fully-clothed or in varying degrees of undress.
More problematic, at first glance, is that some women seem to be lying about their weight. That was my initial reaction, anyway, and a friend who tried out the site said the same. (“I was looking at my size of 5’8 and 130, and there were some definite 160s in the mix,” she wrote.) It struck both of us as kind of weird and sad—why would women feel the need to lie about their weight on an anonymous site designed to encourage body acceptance?
But then a third friend stepped in and pointed out that perhaps we were missing the point. Sure, some of these women who have submitted photos may not be telling the whole truth. But isn’t it likely that, in most cases, the problem was with us—we just couldn’t accurately judge a woman’s weight just by looking at her photo? As the My Body Gallery rules note: ‘This is not a place for us to second guess what someone says they weight or what size pants they wear.’
Our weight-guessing shortcoming was not because we were biased, or particularly bad judges of this sort of thing, but because we all carry weight differently, have different proportions of muscle and fat, and different body types (different in a way that goes beyond simple apple or hourglass descriptors). One person weighing 130 isn’t gonna look just like another person weighing 130 (the same for 160, or 110). And isn’t that the point of the whole project? Lesson learned!