3.27.2014

Reclaiming the word 'perfect'

You might remember a few posts back I declared my love to the "f" word -- feminism.

Yeah, yeah, I'm a feminist, get on board already.

You might also remember this other post I wrote, about my battle with body shaming.

I'd like to say that since fully embracing my woman-power ways that I'd shaken all of those body shaming thoughts, but the truth is, it's still a battle.

And planning our family trip to the beach this summer, hasn't done a lot to help with my body confidence. Some days are better than others. I'm struggling with the realization that being 28 (almost 29) makes it harder to lose weight. Harder to tone things. And honestly, I'm not even sure I want to.

I've got friends who workout on a regular basis, devoting days to well-tallied meal plans and focusing on one body part at a time, and they've seen amazing progress, and I'm happy for them. But honestly, I'm tired of feeling like I'm a project that needs to be fixed. I'm tired of looking at myself that way and overall, it's a completely unhealthy way to think.

So I complain about it being difficult to lose weight, but in reality, I'm just not wanting to put my time into those things. I enjoy carbs (A LOT), I like desserts and I still have an occasional soda here and there. But you know what else I do? I run. I run 5Ks, I run on my treadmill at home, I run around our block for the three months it's nice in Ohio. And I'm not saying I'm the fastest, but I'm healthy enough to run three continuous miles; I'm healthy enough to roll around on the floor with my kids; I'm healthy enough to lift my daughter with my legs and let her soar; I'm healthy enough to carry in piles of groceries, on top of my children, my purse and whatever else I have to get through the doorway.

So no, I'm not calorie counting or planning out meals of low-fat, low-carb, low whatever fad diet is going around now, but I'm strong enough and healthy enough to live the life I live well, and I think that's pretty damn good.

So I decided I'm going to wear a bikini for the first time in well, 10 years? Don't worry, I don't mean a "real" bikini. I'm going to get one of those high-waisted gettups that show like an inch or two of skin, tops. And I'm going to find a top that actually supports my gals, not a mute one piece that shoves them together into one giant uni-boob. So what if some people think I shouldn't be wearing a bathing suit, I'm OK with it and they're just going to have to get over themselves.

We have this problem in society where we "try" to pass off our judgment as worry. "Oh, that chunky girl shouldn't be wearing that bathing suit, shouldn't be happy with her body, doesn't she know she's unhealthy and shouldn't be proud of that?" Or "that skinny girl should go eat a cheeseburger, I bet she has an eating disorder, nobody is that skinny naturally." What if that chunky girl is healthy? What if she, like me, can run three miles and lift her kids? And what if, Heaven forbid, that skinny girl, really is just skinny? Maybe she eats cheeseburger after cheeseburger and doesn't gain a pound, so what. We need to quit pointing the finger at others to make ourselves feel better.

As a thicker gal, I'm guilty of skinny-sharming, I'm guilty of the catty comments about a girl with pointy bones jutting out. But do you know why I really made those statements? Because my hip bones weren't sticking out enough and that's MY insecurity. I shouldn't take it upon myself to make it hers too.

Instead of it being thick vs thin or skinny vs curvy, it needs to be us against the real machine churning all this garbage out. Our society. Our media. Our marketing. Somewhere, someone in the big seat decided that being pretty in this millenium meant being skinny. And don't mistake me, I'm not saying skinny isn't pretty, I have many svelte friends that are knockouts. I'm saying it's not fair to define beauty as one damn thing. It's like saying the only people who are smart are those who understand astrophysics.

It's unreal, unbelievable and it's un-fucking-acceptable.

And when you think about it, it's really NOT little vs big.

Sure, us thicker gals, we've basically got rail-thin models shoved down our throats every.single.day. Take for example the problem I keep running into when looking on websites for swimsuits. This bikini top on the right appears in the "special sizes" swimsuit section. The swimwear is described as a "D-cup, ruched, french top." Yeah, because if that model is sporting a D-cup then I'm a 38ZZZ. I mean for real? If you're going to go to the trouble of making a "special sizes" section in the first place, maybe you could get a real representation of whatever "special size" you're catering to.

I'm not just saying this from a ranty, chubby girl standpoint, I'm saying this from a seriously annoyed shopper who has a hard enough time finding a damn swimsuit to fit my boobs, how am I supposed to get a realistic picture of how that would fit me with Ms. A-cup all tucked in there?

And it doesn't stop there, oh no, practically every body type is subjected to some type of this garbage. Take for example the results I get when I google "sexy tops." Guess what pops up? Boobs, boobs and more boobs. Big boobs, large boobs, extra large boobs, boobs. No little boobs. Very few medium boobs. Here us thick girls are being told that we have to be skinny to be beautiful, but just to really fuck with women's heads, we're ALSO going to tell the skinny girls that they're not sexy unless they've got big ole' knockers.

Oh, and lets not forget the long hair. You're not sexy if you don't have long hair ladies.

Fires you up a little bit, doesn't it? Well, if it doesn't it should.

The truth is, I wish I could just blame it on today's marketing. I wish I could point my finger and shame all the big wigs up in no-mans land deciding what THEY think WE should view as beautiful. But it's not just them. Because sadly, women like me are buying into this bullshit. It's been going on since the world had advertising, had media forms, had press. Back in 1912 the New York Times declared "the perfect woman" to be Elsie Scheel. She was 5'7" and 171 pounds. The newspaper described her as "the most nearly perfect physical specimen of womanhood."

I'm not using Elsie to shun today's thinner women, nor am I using her to excuse an unhealthy lifestyle. I'm using her as an example to prove that we've allowed an outside source, a source fueled by money and many, many voices, to tell US what perfect is for more than 100 years now.

How insane is that?

You also might get a kick out of: 

3 comments:

  1. I wish I could run three miles. That is awesome! I can't leg press my kid, though she wishes I could, but I think I might try. I Zumba and do strenght training, when I can. When I can't, like you I do housework and play with my daughter. Healthy is the most important thing. I am one of those tiny girls ( I am 4ft 9 and 98lbs), but It is not easy. The popular image of women's beauty also includes tall. I get the opposite comments: Oh you can eat anything you want, and still be small you are so lucky. Uh No, I am nearing 40. My metabolism has slowed down. I have to watch what I eat, just like any one else. I have learned to pay attention to my body. If I don't get some form of exercise everyday and eat in reasonably healthy manner, then I feel icky. When I feel icky that is when I think I look icky too. Coincidence? I think not. I hope you do well with your instagram campaign.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this post, very true and something that I too have been thinking about recently. A couple of weeks ago at the shops I was admiring a nice top that a lady was wearing as we approached one another and then I noticed that her body language suddenly showed self-consciousness, embarrassment, and shame. She was a larger lady and I horrifyingly realized that she probably thought I'd been looking at her and thinking "Oh my God, look how fat that lady is", when in actual fact I was thinking "Hmm.. that's a nice top..." Nothing to do with her weight or size, but her own insecurities made her think that if someone was looking at her, that must be what they're thinking. We all do it, when someone acts a certain way we wonder what we've done to make them act that way, and most of the time we haven't actually done anything. That person who just snapped at you, what did you do to piss them off? Probably nothing, they're probably actually pissed off because of something to do with them, not something to do with you, because their life revolves around them, not you. It's the same with body image, you think your hair's frizzy, you've got fat oozing over the side of your jeans and you can detect the faint whiff of your own BO, you see someone else and think how much better they are than you. But that person is probably thinking oh God, I have no cleavage, I have a massive pimple on my chin, and my eyebrows need plucking. They're not even thinking about you because they're so worried about themself. I know how cheesy it sounds but I've found the best thing to do is to just not give a damn. Maybe I do have a bit of a double chin, oh well, it doesn't make me any less of a person and anyone who judges me based on that is obviously horrible so I wouldn't like them anyway. I do whatever I want to do because it makes me feel good. I eat what I want because it makes me feel good, I sometimes go for a walk because it makes me feel good, I wear what I like because it makes me feel good. I think a big factor for me was having a mother who was anorexic as a teenager. Even though she's 'normal weight' now as an adult, she's still anorexic because she still has all of these hateful thought about herself. Growing up with a mum who makes comments like 'I couldn't wear that, I'd look like an elephant', or 'I hate shopping for clothes because I see all my fat in the mirror' either makes you really self-conscious about your own body or really confident because you don't want to be like her! It made me more confident but unfortunately my sister was crying because she hated herself because she was 'too fat' when she was 4. I also agree with you that the prejudice and pressure goes both ways. I've always been pretty trim (but I'm not fit at all), and the amount of hate that is leveled at me all the time, comments like "Well you can eat anything you want" spat out at you like you've done something very wrong by just having the body you have. You just have to refuse to feel guilty, ashamed, or apologetic for the body you have, whatever that body is. Ok, rant over. Thank you for writing this!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, that was really long, sorry! As I said, something I've been thinking about recently as well!

    ReplyDelete