Original Posting from ImaGirl.ca
I’m a girl.
Biologically, I am like any of the beautiful, strong and passionate women reading this blog. But like you, I have had my share of insecurities: my hair, my weight, my height, my hands, my nose, my feet, my teeth, my arms, my thighs . . . the list goes on. I was consumed by it, the insecurities I could never escape or understand. What’s worse? My insecurities were being reinforced on every side. Magazines, television, movies, all saying I should look like this or that, selling me on the idea that I am imperfect and those imperfections might be remedied with a vast array of products, each working to cover up what we all have naturally: Beauty. What we are really being ‘sold,’ ladies, is the idea that there is a ‘better,’ a ‘more perfect.’ Doesn’t that seem inherently wrong? Moreover, there are the endless tabloids showing us Hollywood’s ‘worst’ bodies. There are ads telling us to lose weight, that we can only be pretty if we are thin. (Oh, and please understand that I am entering this discussion with the belief that all body types are beautiful, regardless of shape, size, colour, height, whatever. No one has the right to judge a curvy girl for her bodacious bod, or a slim girl for her thinsational one. That’s the way they (we) are. And they’re (we’re) all beautiful).
The thing is, most of us have heard this argument before. We know media is part of the problem, and many of us have taken to acknowledging the photo shopped quality of these girls and not hating ourselves for not looking like them naturally. Yay us! We are making progress!
Unfortunately, we still face a larger problem, one that many of us partake in unconsciously. You all know what I’m talking about: That scene in Mean Girls where three leading ladies stand in front of a mirror and pick themselves apart, noting their wide variety of ’imperfections.’ Why is it that Kady feels the need to jump in with her awful breath comment? Why does she feel pressured to partake in the routine self-deprecation that goes on behind locked bathroom doors? Don’t kid yourself, we’ve all been there: after dinner, staring at a bloated stomach. In the shower, watching the water run down our bodies. Seeing a movie and openly hating the leading lady for being who she has been cast to be. (Hm . . . I think it’s also time to point out that this is not only a female phenomenon. This goes on with men as well, whether we like to believe it or not. For the sake of the blog’s title, though, lets keep to the female perspective).
Some of you are wondering how these circles of self-loathing can possibly perpetuate our own body issues. Okay, maybe none of you are asking that, but allow me the benefit of the doubt so I can spell out the answer to my question. It’s the title of this post, actually: Your Body Issues Hurt Me Too.
Imagine: You and your best girlfriend are sitting in the bathroom, painting your toenails. You don’t have any real issues with your feet, but your friend blurts out in the middle of a paint stroke, “Ew! My index toe is sooooo loooong. I hate it!” Bam. Just like that, you’re looking at your own index toe. It is slightly longer than your big toe, but you weren’t aware that was even a problem. Suddenly, you’re conscious of something you were never conscious of before. Like Kady – who didn’t even know what nail beds were before the girls mentioned them – you suddenly see yourself in a new (negative) light. (Also, who the hell cares about TOES? They’re toes. They’re weird-looking by nature. Show me a picture of a ‘perfect’ set of toes. I dare you. What is a perfect set of toes, anyway? Who the heck decided that one? Actually, this tangent goes for any body part: Who has the last say in perfection? Anyone who thinks they do is just being silly).
Take it a step further: You and your new friend are sitting at a table for lunch. She begins complaining about how fat she is – at 140 pounds. I don’t know about you guys, but I weigh more than 140 pounds (and I love it!). There are two problems here: 1. Your friend has just (unknowingly) dissed at least a quarter of the female population. 2. Suddenly, even though you were perfectly happy with your weight a moment ago, you’re aware (even if your friend isn’t) that maybe you aren’t good enough – for her standard, or for anyone’s. Downward spiral much?
So what can we do? How do we stop it? I think all of my friends are beautiful, but when they can’t see it themselves, it can be difficult to try to make them believe it too. I mean, many have gone their entire lives surrounded by these stigmas of what beauty is. How can we reverse the effects of ten, twenty, fifty years?
As a friend once said to me, “As long as someone is beautiful in someone’s opinion, then they are beautiful.” Well, cheers to that. That’s where the notion of RADICAL SELF-LOVE comes in. It’s a term I found on a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful (did I mention life-changing?) website: www.fuckyeahbodypositivity.tumblr.com . If we can be beautiful l in someone’s opinion, then why can’t that opinion be our own?
It takes a lot of work. It pushed me to tears to realize that maybe, just maybe, I was beautiful too. In my very own way. And you know what? I am. Nothing will change that, ever.
Do you know what else? We all are. So even if you don’t see it now, I already know you’re beautiful.