A few of my friends shared this article on Facebook today and thanks to the new Newsfeed and Ticker, I came across it in no time. I appreciate the message and the creative way in which it was being presented. I also think the message of this article is something that needs to be repeated over and over again until it sinks down into the desert earth of every insecure woman’s heart and begins to grow – a sturdy, beautiful flower of confidence and satisfaction in who she is.
However, reading the article revived a war that has been waging in my mind for months now, one that I’ve felt too terrified to speak out loud for fear of being reprimanded. Today, I will take the risk. Hate it or love it, here is what I think:
We’ve created a double standard. At some point, we decided that it wasn’t okay to call someone fat, to judge them based on their appearance, to make them feel like less of a person because they aren’t “model-sized”. Yet, for some reason, it is okay to do all of those things when the subject of our speech is skinny. We are oh-so-terrified about hurting a plus size woman’s feelings but the petite woman standing next to her doesn’t deserve any sympathy because…she’s too skinny to have feelings?
Society has spent thousands of dollars trying to reinforce the idea that beautiful doesn’t mean skinny, and I wholeheartedly agree. Yet many of these campaigns, like the article linked above, seek to help curvaceous women find their worth at the expense of others. So the message then changes from, “Curves are beautiful” to “Curves are better.” All we did was flip the system upside down and make someone else feel inadequate because of how they look. We didn’t actually fix anything.
The truth is, as long as we’re comparing ourselves to someone else we will never be satisfied. There’s always going to be another woman with prettier hair or more striking eyes or flatter abs. And to someone else, we are the ones with prettier hair and more striking eyes and flatter abs. At some point, the unhealthy comparison has to come to an end if we will ever find satisfaction in who we are.
I’ve been the girl who couldn’t talk about the issues she had with her body around her friends because their automatic response was, “Shut up. You have no right to talk.” I couldn’t complain about the way I looked simply because I was the smallest of the group. Once when I told someone that I used to hate my body, they couldn’t fathom why. “But you were so skinny!” As if that fixes all the problems in the world.
I used to hate every single thing about myself. When asked what I liked the most about myself, as a twelve-year-old my response was, “My feet”. At least I could hide them when they didn’t look good. I couldn’t really do that with my face or my body. I spent most of my life in that self-loathing phase until I discovered that my worth was innate because I’m made in the image of the Most High. But I also had to make conscious decisions to stop thinking loathsome thoughts about myself, to stop hating what I saw in the mirror, to stop wishing I would wake up one day looking like another girl – a much prettier one. And I had to realize that unless I was going to pay for plastic surgery, this body was all I was going to get, and I needed to learn to love it.
I decided I was done with television and magazines. I was tired of filling my head with photoshopped images of people who in reality looked like me but on the big screen looked like a dream. I was tired of the damage it did to my heart. So I stopped. I stopped comparing myself to movie stars because I stopped caring about what they looked like. It took a long, long time – years of excruciating effort that no one knew about – but today, I love this body I’m in. I’m now the girl who tells her friends that I’m much more comfortable without clothes on than I am with them. [Lucky future husband] And if you asked me what I don’t like about my body, I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything. I’ve grown to love what I’ve been given.
But my friends think that it’s easy for me to be so confident about my body because I’m so small. Being a size 2 doesn’t mean you love yourself more. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’re happier, especially when people say things like, “She probably has a boyfriend because she’s so skinny” or “She probably got ___ because she looks like that.” If God snapped his fingers and made you “skinny” today, it would only change what people see; it wouldn’t change who you are beneath that. You would still be that insecure little girl whether you were a size 2 or a size 8.
You aren’t your dress size or the number on the scale. You aren’t toned muscle or flabby arms. You aren’t a double chin or the perfect butt. You are a person deemed worthy of love and affection simply because you exist in God’s image. Simply.because.you.exist. Believing that your value depreciates as your dress size fluctuates is absolutely ridiculous.
And for crying out loud, let’s stop trying to find our worth in putting others down. If God made me a whale, then I love being a whale. And if God made me a mermaid, then I love being a mermaid. No one is better than the other. (And I am aware that mermaids are fictitious characters, I was just sticking with the theme.) Hating people who are skinnier than you won’t make you love yourself more. Let’s live in reality and stop pretending that our looks are the cause of our unhappiness. After all, for as small as I am, I still have never had the unending line of men waiting to ask me out.
Finally, as a side rant, if you really don’t like the way you look, do something about it. The twenty minutes you spent sitting on the couch, complaining about how everyone in the world is more attractive than you and how your arms are too flabby, could’ve been spent on a brisk walk that would have added a day to your life. Complaining about the way you look never makes you appear more attractive 🙂