BIW Versus The Body Ideal

There are some things I want you, dear reader, to know.  I go back and fourth between a size 6 and size 8. I believe I weigh somewhere between 128-133 pounds. I stopped weighing myself last year because I got sick of looking at the scale. I am 4' 11" tall when I wake up and I am probably shorter than that when I go to bed. I LOVE MY BODY. I think I look good.

I eat what I like and I enjoy every, single bite of food. I exercise, not to stay in shape, but because it makes me feel good and I am crazy about Zumba. Sometimes I skip exercising so that I can lay in bed and read while sipping coffee with lots of creamer in it. My husband thinks I am beautiful, but I know he wouldn't think I look as good as I do if I didn't feel that way myself first.

Another confession: I feel upset a lot about the way that women participate in the perpetuation of shaming other women for their looks. It bothers me. Sure, I could sit here and argue about how the media is victimizing us--and it is (and you can read Ashley Judd's take on that here.) But that is not really where I want to shift my focus because I am not under the impression that I am really going to make a dent in the mass media's portrayal of perfect. Not today, anyway.

What I want to talk about is your participation in it. Yes, you, whoever you are, reading this blog post somewhere in the blogosphere. I want to ask you when the last time you participated in it was. When was the last time you looked at someone on television, on the street, or anywhere at all and thought that she looked fat or ugly? I'll go first:

Hillary Duff. I saw a picture of her in US Weekly and I thought she looked bigger than she normally does. Then I remembered she just had a baby, and I thought she looked good for just having a baby. Then my thoughts wandered to why in the hell a women who just had a baby 10 days prior was out shopping and getting her hair did. Then I felt bad for her having to be photographed as she did all these things post-baby. I hope that somewhere today she is sitting at home and saying, "I love my body. I think I look good."

Now you. Confess to yourself [secretly] the last time you did this.  Keep in mind, lots of women are participating in it even at this very second. Hell, you could be looking to the right at my picture and thinking that I could do with eating a little less risotto for all I know. The point is that this behavior has become so ingrained than we all do it without even thinking about it, and that has got to stop. We should feel badly about it, yet because we use it as a social mechanism, we don't. How sick is that?

People are much more than our physical appearances--good or bad--would give us credit for, but  no matter what you look like, isn't that beautiful? Who's to say it isn't, really? The only way for us to slay the proverbial dragon is to stop allowing these thoughts to pervade us. We've got to reject what society tells us and just be ourselves. Stop crash dieting. Stop engaging in that conversation your friend is trying to drag you into about how so-and-so looks bad. Take risks. Take fashion risks. And most of all, when people say to you that you aren't good enough, don't listen to them. They suck.

I want all women to feel about their bodies the way I feel about my body. I want to participate in perpetuating women to feel empowered about their bodies so that their minds can follow. Some of you may know that this is always been a part of my mission as a writer and a human being. We should all be able to see the beauty in ourselves as well as in others. Our ideas of what beauty is should be much more vast than they currently are, as a whole.

I know that my opinion on this is shared by many women who are sick of being shamed by the media, by society, and by the ridiculous standards that hardly any of us are able to reach. I don't ask a lot from my readers, but today I am asking you to participate in this discussion with me. Repost this blog, use the comments section below to speak about your experiences on the subject (for better or worse), and let's get talking about this important issue. Celebrate yourself, your body, and your out of the box features because our uniqueness is truly what makes us beautiful.