A few weeks ago, I was talking with my ladyfriend Hannah (in the red shirt in the photo below, with myself and our dear friend Mariya in the center) over a few beers at my favorite bar in our hood (The Anchored Inn, fyi – the vibe is grungy, metal divey perfection, velvet paintings and all, and they have the BEST cheese fries EVAH) about being female, body image, thighs and guts and butts, you know… the normal shit. She had a perspective that I hadn’t heard before, or at least hadn’t heard articulated that well, and I asked her if she would write a post for ASAS. She wasn’t exactly pumped about the idea at first, but after harrassing her enough she broke down and wrote this for me. Honestly, she is the epitome of everything I’m not in my head physically, but that’s just it – I assumed a whole lot about her, including the fact that along with her gorgeous high cheekbones and delicate frame, she OBVI had no problems with self image or body dysmorphia or anything at all. Hey, we can all be pretty lame and closed-minded, aight? Try not to judge me for that, guys!!! It’s just so hard for me to imagine women much smaller than myself having such issues, since if I could just get down to that weight ALL of my problems would be solved and life would be perfect in every way, right? RIGHT?! Yeahhhhh. In fact, she and I were walking to the train together a few days before she sent me what she wrote, and some dude starts saying stuff to me about my body, which as an NYC female, you learn to completely tune out. However, THIS particular douche felt it necessary to make himself heard, louder and louder in front of at least 30 other people getting on and off the train, complimenting my “big titties” and “juicy ass” and (here’s the best part) trying to GUESS MY WEIGHT. WHAT. Am I at some twisted fat-shaming carnival or am I in Brooklyn?! I turned, looked in his eyes, and said “For REAL, dude? F^&% you”, and continued down the stairs. Hannah and I were astonished at the nerve of this jerk, and she was super sweet and supportive afterward, but I, of course, heard those words ringing through my head all week, reminding me how gross and fat and horrible I am (I know, I know, I ‘m just speaking the truth) and I was definitely thinking at the time, “That wouldn’t happen to a gorgeous, rail thin chick like Hannah. Bitch.” Okay, maybe the last word isn’t true, but female comparison and competition is awful and seemingly inevitable. Which I hate, and fight in my own brain every day, but it sneaks in there! Dammit! Nonetheless, here she is to address these very points in all of her scarcastic, gorgeous glory, Hannah McKenna!
Most people don’t believe me when I say I was always a little chubby as a kid. I remember when I was 6, waiting in line to get my picture taken on picture day… I was wearing my favorite yellow dress and thick white stockings with my mary janes. I remember looking at my legs, specifically my calves, and comparing them with the little girl’s in line in front of me. Mine were bigger. Did that mean I was chubbier? I think that at that age I didn’t realize why I felt bad about my fatter calves, I just felt bad that I was different. At 6 years old, when all the other “average” kids were pushing 50 lbs in body weight, I was over 60 lbs myself. So, like I said, I was always a little chubby when I was child until I hit junior high and I really began to feel the pressures of society on how a girl should look and weigh. I lost most of all my baby fat and then some and by 13 years old I was 95 lbs at 5 feet 3-4 inches, which to me was average amongst my peers. At 13, I tried a diet pill once, but immediately decided that I LOVE food too much. I’d just eat what I want and play lots of sports – I mean lots – basketball, softball, volleyball, etc. That worked for all of JHS and HS (thank god for being a tomboy).
Before I go any deeper into this, I want to state the obvious that so many people seem to forget with thin women – ALL women feel the pressures of being thin and beautiful. ALL WOMEN AND GIRLS. ALL FEMALES. (Shit, all humans!) How it manifests in our lives may be different for each individual depending on who you are and what you’ve been through but we are all affected by it in one way or another. Curvier women may look at thin women and think, “What does she have to complain about? She’s already thin.” Thin is one thing but actually being in shape and toned like what they imagine you to look like under all those clothes? That’s another thing. People look at me and automatically think I’m thin and in shape all over. The truth is (and my husband and bff will tell you this in honesty as well) that I don’t have a flat stomach. I’ve never had a flat stomach in my life as thin as I’ve been. Clothes are a beautiful thing for all shapes and sizes, not just for bigger women. I wear clothes that I know will hide the rolls that is my stomach and the love handles. I know my body and I know how to hide and accentuate certain parts. I’m a woman just like any other woman with body issues.
(I think she’s beautiful)
I’ve always obsessed over physical looks since I was young (as noted above). It got worse when I made the mistake of dating a handsome model. He became my standard of beauty for myself. I’ve never worked out so much in my life and I’ve never been as in shape as I was when I was with him. Yet through it all, I still didn’t have a flat stomach but I could run 5 miles no problem (and I’m a smoker). I would work out for 3 weeks straight and he would check me out up and down, left and right then focus in on my midsection and say, “just a little bit more and you’ll be perfect.” My stomach was never good enough to him. (Asshole.) I always had the lower stomach pouch and my stomach remained a wall of rolls when I sat down no how much I ran and how many crunches I did.
Preach, H. It’s funny to me (or not so funny) how a body part on one person can be the target of a lifetime of hatred, but someone else will never have even thought of it. I’ve always loved my strong dancer calves, loved their muscle definition when I run and when I wear heels, and how they balance out the rest of my leg, and little Hannah hated hers at 6 years old. I look at the pic of us above and think “My head is literally DOUBLE the size of theirs. I’m like a freakish ugly bobblehead”, and I can guarantee that there are plenty of people reading this who have never given a thought to the size of their head as compared to others. After having talked to Hannah, and even more after reading her words, I have become more and more aware of my own prejudice against thinner women, and how I use the same language I condemn when used about someone like me. Usually it’s in my own head, or to a similarly shaped friend, but that’s bullshit. Hate language, shaming, being made to feel ‘abnormal’ or ‘wrong’, it’s all the same. Thin women can eat salads for lunch, fuller figured women can eat cheeseburgers in restaurants, skinny girls may have a back that shows the outline of a few bones and wear a backless dress, curvy ladies may have some extra love on their arms and wear a tank top, and not one of them should be shamed for any of it. Aside from medical professionals speaking about health issues in a helpful way, it’s not for any of us to speak on, and the negativity with which I view ANY body will inevitably be turned onto myself as well as felt by the women around me, whether consciously or not. It seems awfully PC, but it’s and issue I struggle with, so it strikes me as totally hypocritical of me to throw judgement and snark and anger at other, differently shaped women out of jealousy, fear, self-hatred, or wherever it’s coming from. Negativity ends with positivity, and so I apologize to you, my skinny sisters. I may not always understand what you feel, but I will do my best be understanding. Love, love, love – and thank you, amazing Hannah, for bringing all of this to my attention. Until next week, stay strong, beautiful people!