aging, appearance, approval, authenticity, beauty, behavior, bodies, body-shaming, boundaries, clothing, comfort, communication, control, healing, mental health, people pleasing, self love, self worth, self-acceptance, value, weight
I read yet another body shaming article.
At first glance, the female reader responses to our society’s demand that we look slim, young, polished, and friendly seemed as varied as there are body shapes. Upon closer inspection, the responses were not terribly dissimilar. Some raged against these demands; some were apologists. Some suggested women should take better care (slim down!), and be healthy role models (look good). Some said they don’t care that they don’t look good in certain clothing, damn it, they’ll wear it anyway! But, there’s the rub: They all engaged as though this is a valid topic of discussion: valuing the worth of a woman based on the weight of her body; assessing the quality of her insides based on her ever-changing, can’t-stop-the-tides outsides.
Why are we discussing, defending, dissecting, and negotiating our body shapes with anyone? Ever? Why are we willing to value each other based on something we’re hardly responsible for? Something we barely have control over? Thanks, genetics.
Is there a weight-to-value ratio? And, if so, can I cash in on good behavior against these widening thighs, which seem to have a mind of their own?
If you are anything like me, you too have struggled with this idea that the appearance of your body has an impact on the quality of your life or the love you receive. As a child, I remember watching a made-for-tv movie in which an ugly, overweight girl is bullied and berated. She has an accident, and plastic surgery transforms her appearance. She becomes beautiful and well liked, and exacts revenge on all. The message of this story was supposed to be a cautionary tale about being kind. The more insidious, lasting message? Deep inside, fat and ugly girls are bad girls. Dress them up? They can never really be fixed. There’s so much wrong here, I don’t know where to begin.
“But we’ve come so far!” Much as you deny this abhorrent phenomenon (still) exists, think about the fact that we’re still publishing and reading articles that ask, “Do Real Women Have Back Fat?” We continue to entertain discussions about Hillary Clinton’s hair.
So, I wonder:
How much is enough?
When will our own self-love be unconditional?
At what point will I love who I see when I look in the mirror? If not me, who?
I struggle with my changing, aging body. I don’t look the way I used to. I don’t look the way I ever wanted to look. Who is that older woman looking back at me? Parts hang in places I could not have anticipated 5 years ago. What is this fold? What is this loose skin? If I were tighter/younger/slimmer/shinier, what then? How would my life feel differently if I could miraculously change my form?
Why can’t I wear my healthy lifestyle or sparkling personality as my skin? Why must we judge others and ourselves on our outsides?
What if we were all blind? Would we (could we?) be more open, able to love more fully?
It all breaks my heart.
I want to believe I am different.
I want to believe we can all heal.
Maybe, in the midst of this struggle, I’ll be pushed right over the edge, into lusty self-acceptance.