Since it was just Thanksgiving, I thought that we should take a minute to discuss how Christina Aguilera is getting fat, and so is Jessica Simpson--oh wait, scratch that, she’s pregnant instead. We all want to look like Heidi Klum don’t we? I mean, she is ripped as hell. But some of us weren’t born with such good looks... or great bodies. Really, no matter who you are, you likely struggle with at least one aspect of your appearance.
Lately these societal assumptions about our appearances have been really grinding my gears. It seems like everyone is talking about everyone else's weight. I hear off the cuff comments roll of the tongues of the people I love, and I can’t help but think it’s all so conditioned. We have been taught to respond in this way to insult people... or merely make for conversation in our boredom. Christina Aguilera ISN’T fat....but when the media is hyper-focused on people’s bodies, well, America’s gossip-loving citizens seem to follow suit.
I recall the first time I really felt effected by the words of another with regard to weight. A friend of mine had gone off to college. Several months later she came back to visit and my friends and I were excited to see her. She stepped out of the car and was several pound heavier than when she left, but to be honest, she wasn’t fat. It was the usual freshman 15, if you ask me. But my girlfriend promptly turned and whispered in my ear as our friend turned her back, “Oh my god, she got fat!”
Later that same year, my theater director, for whom I had the utmost respect, pulled me into her office for a "chat." She told me that if I wanted to get into a good acting program and college, that I would need to lose this... and she actually patted my stomach! I was horrified and for the first time in my life, I wondered what people thought of my body. It made me self conscious, but being the awesomely resilient person I am, instead of wallowing in some sort of haze surrounding my body, I just gave up theater instead. If I was going to have to be skinny all the time, watch what I ate, etc, then that career wasn't going to be for me, anyway.
The truth is that there is an way too much of an emphasis on being super skinny and it's just unrealistic for most women. I am 4’ 11” and a size 6. I consider myself to be thin. I look damn good. I work out at least 3 days a week, and I eat a sensible diet full of veggies. I barely drink. I stopped weighing myself several months ago because I was positively fed up with obsessing over some number--I just want to feel good. And I want to stop receiving messages from my society that I should look or be a certain way.
Maybe as I get older, I get more and more sick of the homogenous expectations the media imposes on people. Even trying to avoid the subject, it just keeps popping up. Look, no one wants to be overweight, but it happens. Some people are just bigger than others--it doesn’t make them ugly or undesirable. It just makes us all different from one another.
Diversity is beautiful. All the shapes, sizes, and colors that separate us from one another also unite us. Because we are all different, it sort of makes us the same. There is certainly nothing wrong with being a size zero. In teh same vein, there is nothing wrong with being a size 6, or 12, or whatever size you happen to be. The real test of whether or not a person is healthy has to do with their physical fitness and their attitude about themselves.
I see the women around me obsess about the things that they eat. I see them put their bodies down or say that they don’t feel good. Just how often might you be uttering the expression, “I feel fat”? I know I am guilty of doing it... You should love yourself no matter what size you are. This is something I strive for each and every day. Some days I do better than others.
But part of the mission of breaking this cycle of poor body image and the perpetuation of the “ideal” body type, is to help change the minds of others. So many people think that it’s acceptable to make fun of people for the way they look. We must recognize this as weak behavior, and point it out to others when they engage in it. this is my pledge, as a friend, as a community member, and as a woman.
I hope you will take it too!