Courtesy of nbcolympics.comAlexandra Owens, Allure magazine
Steely biceps, toned calves, and flat stomachs were all praised during the Olympic Games over the past couple weeks. But when a group of supermodels, including Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Georgia May Jagger, and David Grandy, walked for the Closing Ceremony, their svelte figures caused an uproar. On Twitter and Facebook, viewers complained that such thin people don't have "real" bodies, so the finale was counterproductive to the positive image the muscly athletes had set.
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But after spending two weeks in a state of stunned awe over Michael Phelps's torso and Allyson Felix's legs, the last word I would use to describe an Olympic athlete is "real" or "normal." "Real" would be me, or any of my friends, who go to the gym (on occasion) and try to eat a reasonably balanced diet. But we don't dedicate our lives to fine-tuning our bodies. While Jourdan Dunn's rail-thin frame isn't average, neither is German cyclist Robert Forstermann's crushing thighs.
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I think people often forget that models, like professional athletes, base their career on upholding a body extreme. No one admires them for being real, just like no one praises Phelps for having an okay chest. Both follow unusual lifestyles to achieve a certain look-models often eat very little and very lean food, while athletes need to stuff themselves with pints of Ben & Jerry's or an entire pizza to keep up their energy. And I think that's okay, as long as they don't hurt themselves, and we remember to take it for what it is: an ideal, and not inspiration for our own bodies.