It’s that time of year. Target has stocked their swimsuits and summer grilling dining sets. Magazines by the grocery checkout stands have articles telling us that we’ll find out what we should eat, how we should workout, what new product Dr.Oz recommends for weight loss, etc. inside their covers. We all have to be ready for bikini season, tank top season, swim trunk season, those wedding photos, for that cruise, or that spandex cosplay.
In Image Comics’ The Beauty, it’s been two years since a venereal disease has been moving rapidly amongst the global population with over half of the US infected. This disease “makes those infected better looking… a disease people want.”(imagecomics.com), which has earned it the name “The Beauty.” The one known side effect? A chronic yet slight fever.
We recently read Volume 1 of this book in my local comic shop’s all female book club (aptly called “Girls with Issues”). Our meeting included discussing the book itself (art, writing, questions about the disease, etc.) as well as discussions about the role media plays in dictating beauty standards, how beauty standards change, and the pressure we all feel to live up to these standards.
What is so intriguing about this book is that it’s difficult to read the book and not ask yourself “Would I want The Beauty?” Sure, there are characters that are adamant about not getting it, and those that are adamant that they didn’t get it on purpose, but what’s the harm in finally achieving a seemingly unattainable standard of beauty with the only downside being a slight fever? We live in a world where we’re inundated with new exercise and diet trends that will do what no other trend has done. Maybe The Beauty is the trend that finally does what no other trend has done?
Obviously, the opening panels of the book let us know that the fever isn’t the only downside. [I’d like to take this moment to remind us all that the FDA doesn’t regulate nutritional and diet supplements, so let’s all be knowledgable about the brands we buy.] The world of The Beauty, like our own, comes with no magic pill, magic exercise routine, magic anything that will allow us to achieve our health and fitness goals (or more – if you’ve read the book, then you’ll know what I mean).
When it comes down to it, sustainable achievement and maintenance of our health and fitness goals comes with consistency. This means consistently eating well by choosing more greens and limiting portion sizes, and consistently incorporating more activity into our day-to-day lives. It’s not flashy and it’s not sexy, but it works (and it doesn’t leave you looking like the woman in the first few panels of the book).
So in this season of prepping for summer events, swimsuits, and tank tops, let’s remember that achieving a “bikini body” simply requires having a body and a bikini. We all feel the pressure of beauty standards, and no trend is going to remove that pressure or be the magic fix. We can simply enjoy where we are in our fitness journey right now as we consistently work towards our goals.