This one is definitely for my female audience. Apologies to my boyfriend who has had to hear about this topic a million times while I have spent the last several months drafting this in my pretty rare, spare time.
This post has nothing to do with flamingos except that they look alike and not all people do and that’s okay.
I recently read an article about a celebrity’s magazine interview comment throwing some shade at a separate group of celebrity friends who are thin, some who are models, because they represent a false image of what people should look like.
When I think of body image, I think of the girl I see in the bathroom mirror, where the light is the most unflattering because that aids my cause. That girl is probably the same as what other people see when they look at me, but I hope not. Cause if they do, they see the skin on my stomach is stretched out from having gained and lost weight, that my butt has gotten flatter for the same reason and my left thigh has very visible stretch marks. They see that a double chin is slightly detectable if I tilt my head down, that I have “armpit” fat regardless of how hard I work my chest and arm muscles. The dark circles under my eyes, the thin, stringy hair (which has slightly improved with a new shampoo and conditioner combo) and pale, blemished skin. They will see eyes that lead to my every thought and sometimes right into my soul. That means they will see my insecurity, my anxiety and my frustration with myself for talking way too much and never getting the words quite right. They will see the longing to be accepted over anything else but always hanging out on the defense as counterintuitive as that may seem. They will see the ugly girl whose reflection appears whenever I let it.
I am told on a regular basis that I am beautiful, by a variety of sources, which leads me to believe that it’s likely not a lie even when I feel like it is. So why do I feel that about myself? The mirror reflects another layer on top of my outward imperfections that I know exist which means that beauty must come from within and other peoples’ opinions actually don’t matter. The compliments lift me up briefly but it’s my own perception shaping how I feel every day.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts how the mirror is a magical thing because it reflects what you want it to. I feel prettier after I work out. When I’m tan I feel like my sun-kissed skin literally glows, creating a goddess-like aura around me. When I drink, I feel less attractive with every trip to the bathroom. I’ll be honest that one still stumps me, I guess “beer goggles” just don’t work on myself.
Maintaining a positive body image has been a struggle for me since the day I understood what boobs were and that I didn’t have any. I was probably 10. It got worse and worse until I found myself 22 years old and chubby with an eating disorder. It got better as I got healthier and my confidence and inner happiness peaked (I was also living at the beach at that time so maybe it was just the salt water as the sayings go.) Since, I have found things to pick over with myself and days where I see too many gorgeous women on social media, my inner dialogue tears myself apart.
Based on experience, this means there is a very large and partially valid argument that (many forms of) social media, magazines, TV, internet adds and models promote being thin and pretty, inevitably feeding this wild fire of body shaming issues. While those industries may be using these types of women in their marketing, nobody is telling you that you must be that way. I am willing to bet for as much as you may want to look like somebody else, there is probably a list of reasons why you shouldn’t want to be like them because everybody has their flaws whether they are visible outwardly or not. It’s up to us to acknowledge what’s around us but not let it consume us. I think it sounds weak to blame my insecurities on the fact that somebody else working in a photo-shopped industry making lots of money is so thin and so beautiful. However, I know that it is important to make sure that young girls understand they don’t have to look like that to be successful or loved and to help them continue that understanding into adulthood without it morphing into resentment of others who are different or themselves. That’s where our society seems to be missing the mark.
Let’s stop categorizing each other’s bodies for anything other than for the sake of your health… and don’t do this unless you are a legit professional please! BMI or other methods of measuring healthy body weight used as a marker of body fat and potential health risks that ensue if you are over or under normal limits – (usually) good. She’s so fat or she’s too thin – not good.
Let’s stop shaming others for being something we are not. Thin-shaming people is just as bad as fat-shaming. Let’s not make people feel bad for being overweight and let’s not make people feel bad for being skinny. As somebody who has been 40 pounds up and down the scale in her adult life and hyper insecure, I have been guilty of (and also fallen victim to) both. When I was bigger, I was so annoyed by anyone smaller than me and before I gained any weight I couldn’t fathom how you could just “let yourself go.” Both are mean and a complete waste of time. I hate that we live in a world where it’s ingrained in our moldable brains from the beginning that thinner is better but if you get there and really change things around for your health, then people start harping on your too-thinness and that becomes a whole new target.
Let’s stop putting so much thought into tearing ourselves and others down because we are not as _____ as this other woman. If you want to have role models and make a change because someone inspires you to be the way they are, make that change. But stop being so hateful to yourself (and others) along the way. There is something uglier than the imperfect body you may think you have, and that is your derogatory attitude towards other women. If you’re an angel and have never said anything mean about another woman that she didn’t deserve, my apologies.
Chances are there is at least one thing you really like about your outward appearance. How about we focus on that instead of the thousand negative ones and maybe compliment someone else when they show up looking better than you do that day instead of feeling annoyed or insecure. What kind of women would we be if we did that and stopped dwelling on things that really don’t matter so much? Possibly inspiring and kick-ass.
And that’s who I want to be.