I know that I usually talk about mostly random fluff on this blog (though in a very enjoyable manner I must say) but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about body image. It’s been at the forefront of my mind for a myriad of reasons, and it’s finally gotten to the point where I feel the need to put my more serious thoughts out onto the interwebs.
First of all, let me put all my cards out on the table: I have never been fat. Nor have I ever been skinny. I have really muscular legs, a big booty and a little flab around my tummy. But I’m built in very nice proportion and have a visible waist, so you wouldn’t know to look at me that I wear a size 8-10 most of the time (nor are those shameful numbers to have stitched into your jeans). As a result, I live in this in-between range that sometimes makes me feel like I won the genetic lottery, and other times makes me feel like no one should ever find me attractive.
In a way, I think all women go back and forth between those emotions, no matter what their body type is. If they’re thin, they have times where they wish they had bigger boobs or a rounder butt. If they’re curvy they wish they could wear a v-neck without showing 6 inches of cleavage or could walk in a skirt without their thighs rubbing together. The grass is always greener, right?
But instead of embracing ourselves for the numerous positive attributes of our bodies, we continually focus on that one negative.
The Hubbster will occasionally get really frustrated with me, because he’ll catch me looking in the mirror and frowning. Or pinching that little roll of fat on my stomach while I’m sitting on the couch and sighing like I weigh 400 pounds. I know I’m not fat. Logically, I know this. But when I look in the mirror or see that roll of fat, I get this feeling of self-loathing that makes me feel 13 years old.
When I was in the 7th grade, I had a crush on this guy, and there started to be rumors that he was going to ask me out. Then there were rumors that I weighed 130 pounds, and he wasn’t going to ask me out anymore. For the record, I weighed 115 pounds at the time, which for a 13-year-old girl isn’t necessarily average. But I had been a figure skater and dancer since I was 7. Couple that with my naturally athletic build, and I even though I looked about the same as all of the other girls, I weighed about 15 pounds more.
I know that it was a long time ago, but let me tell you: a girl never forgets a feeling like that. The realization that date-ability (and because I was 13, my self-worth) was not only linked to how I looked and what clothes I wore, but how much I weighed. Or even how much people thought I weighed.
When I started being more comfortable in my own skin (i.e. when I was in college), I stopped weighing myself. Seriously. I can’t tell you the last time I was on a scale that wasn’t in a doctor’s office, and when I go to the doctor’s I close my eyes and tell them not to say the number out loud. I still have a very muscular body, and knowing my weight doesn’t help my psyche. Now that I really think about it, my aversion to weighing myself might have a lot to do with that day.
I still have moments where I sigh at my reflection, but I’ve learned to focus on my positive attributes, and on being healthy. I’m conscious about what I eat–I try to eat more fruits and vegetables and less processed foods (eating at home a lot helps), but I don’t count calories or diet. If I want a brownie, I’m going to eat an effing brownie, I’m just not going to eat an entire pan. I try to be active and go to the gym regularly, but I don’t go crazy and let working out take over my life. I feel healthy, and you know what? My curves are gorgeous and I have hot dancer legs. It doesn’t hurt that the Hubbster tells me that every day. I really love him for that.
Popular culture is starting to help, too. I love seeing un-airbrushed photos of celebrities with cellulite and wrinkles and big thighs, and that inevitable roll of skin from bending any part of your upper body. I love seeing article after article about how we need to come together as women to put an end to body-shaming, and accept that we are all built differently and we are all beautiful. But I also see articles about how “pro-ana” and “thinspiration” websites are thriving, and how they are encouraging women (and girls) to be unhealthy in the pursuit of looking like a 12-year-old boy.
So to those people scorning any girl who is shaped like a woman, I would like to say this: I’m not built like a 12-year-old boy, nor do I want to be. I have boobs and a butt and a few extra pounds, but guess what? So did Marilyn Monroe. Try arguing her attractiveness. I dare you.