I’ve been thinking about writing a post about female body image for a while now, and no matter what I come up with, I’m never happy with it. I know what I want to say, I just know that I only have my own perspective, and inevitably I am going to step on some toes along the way, I fear. The best way I can think of to combat this is to first apologize in advance for my big mouth, and secondly to ask for all of your opinions and feelings on the subject, which I will be posting in the near future. Because hey, although I’m every woman, I’m only one chick here!
All right. I’m getting tired of all of this female ‘shaming’. The term has been used most recently in regards to ‘slut-shaming’, which also (obvi) pisses me off, but that’s another blog post for another day. I am tired of it in general. Tired of ‘fat’ girls being made to feel worthless in every way for being shaped the way they are. Smart? Fat. Funny? Fat. Talented? Fat. It seemingly trumps everything – just ask Melissa McCarthy. Tired of ‘skinny’ girls being told they need to ‘eat a cheeseburger’, because that’s the same bull turned inside out – see Denise Richards. But you know what? It also annoys the shit out of me when those same girls complain about those comments, and then turn around and say they’re fat, brag about how little they’ve eaten that day (I swear, if I have to nod and fake smile while suppressing a huge eye roll when it’s 7pm and the girl beside me says, ‘OMG, I’ve only had an apple today, I guess I should eat something, huh? Teehee’ I’m going to go apeshit), and, I swear I would not, COULD not make this up, celebrate the fact that doing certain everyday activities hurt, because their diet is working and they don’t have any fat left to cushion their bones. LITERALLY. There is something wrong with this picture, ladies. Shit, my mom constantly tells me how when she was a teenager, she was Kate Moss-style thin, and got incessantly picked on for it, and the buxom girls got chased around the halls. What has changed? Men? The media? Why do we CARE? Why do we let them call the shots when it comes to what beauty is?! Your health is a wonderful and important thing to focus on, but the obsession with getting as tiny as possible bothers me on many levels. Because not only will our best never be good enough, but there’s something that irks me about the idea of striving to make ourselves as small as possible and the overtones of mysogyny that go along with it. Or maybe that’s all in my oversensitive feminist head.
As for me, I feel as if I am constantly caught in the middle of this conversation/war/issue, because I am right in the middle of the scale (ha). I’m not 100 pounds. In fact, I don’t remember ever being that weight – I was the girl who woke up one morning sometime around sixth grade and had suddenly gotten my period, boobs, and hips, and went right from little girl clothes to the ladies’ section. Do not pass go, do not look at the 0’s or 2’s, just go right to the 6’s, and there (well, around there) I have stayed for much of my life, with some definite fluctuations either way. In college, I crash dieted like every other girl in an attempt to ‘fit in’, and being a performance major only heightened that pressure – for one role for which the entire wardrobe consisted of corsets, fishnets, leotards, and tearaway dresses, I got down to the lowest number I ever remember seeing on a scale. I remember people saying how great I looked and loving the attention, but being so hungry and so tired. My body did not want to be at that weight, it was clear, because I had to do drastic things to get there and to stay there, and even at 19 I had a sense that that just wasn’t who I was and ended up drifting back to my normal size and my normal life once the show ended. (Or maybe I was just lazy. Not impossible!) My early years in NYC saw me at many different sizes. Depression handed me 30 pounds a few years ago, and HOLYCRAPI’MGETTINGMARRIED helped me start to run, count calories, and lose it again, and yet I still have trouble not focusing on my problem areas when I watch my wedding video – which makes me shake my head and realize I still have a way to go. I have friends who are rail thin, friends who are athletic and strong and fit, friends who are plus sized – some don’t diet or work out at all, some who honestly don’t eat enough, some who are obsessed with their workouts, and some who do it right and amaze me. A lot of the time, I feel so ‘right in the middle of everyone’ that I feel like I don’t really fit in anywhere, size wise. I can feel fat and gross with my thin friends, I will occasionally feel like the annoying skinny bitch with my bigger friends, and I am just now at 30 really doing everything I can to love me, right now, as is. I live in a city filled with beautiful people, work in two different jobs surrounded by mostly lithe, gorgeous women, I love and am obsessed with fashion that may or may not fit or flatter my hourglass frame, and am in the beauty business. It’s relentless. Hey, here’s a lip plumper! You didn’t notice how thin your sad little lips are? Well now you have! Here’s your $50 solution! The connection I see between all of these things is the negativity we, as women, inflict on ourselves and on one another, and I’m fucking sick of it. I know it’s near impossible to shut off the constant stream of it that fills my head, so it has to be the same with most everyone else. I know I’m a perfectionist, so accepting my flaws is so, so difficult for me, and it’s got to be that way for others. The worst part is that as I constantly work on loving me and my beauty and my body in the moment, not ‘after I’ve lost 10’ or ‘with makeup and Spanx only’ like it was in my head for so many years, and I get push back on that. I have actually been told by people that I know, people in my life, that I’m not healthy, given diet tips without any inquiry (because clearly you want to lose weight, Tara, look at you!), been told I shouldn’t or can’t wear specific things as I’m wearing them, and been asked if I was pregnant (no, and f you for asking, bitch). The skinny girls judge me and yet feel thin next to me in pictures, the big girls roll their eyes when I complain about the fit of clothes or my thighs in general because what the hell do I know about being big – ‘you’re a freaking size 8!’ It feels like I fit in nowhere, and yet it seems on paper that I have the least to complain about. I am blessed, and I don’t want to come across as not thankful for what I have. My body is strong, (usually) graceful, healthy, curvy and womanly, my breasts are, according to my husband, ‘magnificent’, and he thinks I’m the hottest thing since Leia in a gold bikini. So WHY do the women around me, in my life, on the street, in the media and otherwise, SAY that they believe everyone is beautiful, but their actions usually belie their real feelings? Does it have to do with their negativity when it comes to their own bodies, as I suspect? That no one can think they are perfect just the way they are, because then they’re a pompous bitch, and ‘fat talk’ and self hatred is a way women bond with one another (which is true, you know it, and so fucked up)? That you complain about someone telling you you need to eat, but inside celebrate how skinny your must look today? That sometimes I DON’T go to the gym because FUCK trying to change what, and therefore who, I am? So what, we CAN’T love ourselves totally when there’s always a prettier, thinner woman in the world, in the room, in the picture next to us, and we can’t help but hate her? Sometimes (rarely in the past few years, thank gawd) I find myself doing that exact thing, and I am disgusted. Someone else’s shine doesn’t take away from my own sparkle, I tell myself, but there’s still a part of me that holds on to that jealousy and anger, which is really just fear. My thinnest still isn’t thin enough. Neither is hers, or hers – breasts aren’t full enough, ankles are too fat, neck is wobbly, whatever our issues. It’s a constant struggle, and the negativity permeates everything we do as women, and takes away our power. It’s harder to take over the world when you’re worried about if your ass looks big in those jeans. It’s impossible to stop, but if once a day you can take a negative thought about yourself or another woman, silence it, and focus on a positive, a shift will occur in you. And you can’t change anyone else’s opinion on your beautiful shape as a woman, but you can change your own. And screw everyone else. It’s your ass – love it.
And now, I ask you all – what’s your perspective on body image? What’s the view like from behind your eyes? Let me know. You may be the next author on ASAS – weigh in and send it my way at firstname.lastname@example.org! Happy Friday – mwah!