Last week, Jennifer Aniston took to the internet to let us know that she’s not buying the bullshit in a HuffPost column titled, For The Record. I think we’re all tired of it honestly, from both sides – the women who are over being judged (Aniston) and the women who perpetuate it (The Kardashian’s – can they just go away yet?!). After reading it, I remembered that I had written a body (issue) piece after Kingston was born. I’m not in the public eye, but what happens out there still affects me, waaay over here. Maybe you can relate…
Every day for the past 7 weeks, the first thing I do when I wake up is make sure my stomach isn’t exposed. Even under the covers. When I can see it I feel disgusted. Like, just stumbled upon rotten meat, disgusted. For the first two weeks after my son was born I marveled at how quickly I began to “bounce back” much in the way I marveled at how my belly grew week after week while I carried him inside me. Quickly, all of that light has gone black. Pitch black. And has morphed into something truly ugly. Instead of looking at myself and thinking, “Wow, that body, YOUR body has carried and birthed three babies.” I think bizarre things like, “I wish I could just (literally) cut my stomach off.” or, “I see why men cheat on their wives.” It hurts me to even type those things, but it’s true. I have thought, said and maybe even sometimes believed the horrible lies I tell myself. I have been conditioned to believe that I am defective because I’m a grown woman with an A cup, because my stomach is scarred and lumpy, because my nails don’t grow and my eyes are different shapes. I have been conditioned to believe that men will not find me sexy or attractive unless I do something to alter my appearance. Never mind that I’m witty, passionate, kind and successful. I have been conditioned to believe that the best I can be is sexy or attractive.
As the weather changes and the sun’s warmth teases us out of our winter clothes our self-hatred grows. Though most people won’t call it that. My Facebook feed is filled with friends attempting to attain some other version of themselves and then sharing their disgust or disappointment or frustration with the process. More specifically, their body. The body that has literally held them up and carried them around, been there for them regardless of circumstance and all they want to do is tear it down. It makes me so sad.
I tread a fine line when it comes to expressing my feelings regarding body image and body positivity, because I too wrestle with the voices and the pressure. While I want women to feel empowered to do what they want with regard to their diet and body. I also find that I’m not buying the bullshit. I find it very hard to believe that all so-called self-improvement or enhancement is truly driven by the self. If we didn’t live in a society obsessed with the way women look, would women do so many things to change themselves? I don’t believe so.
This may sound crazy and some thought it was at the time. In fact, some even threatened to go against my wishes. As soon as I found out I was having a girl (almost 15 years ago) I decided that she would never own a Barbie. I asked people not to purchase them for her and warned that if they did, the dolls would be returned to the store. I rarely commented on her looks or if I did, I paired it with another, non-physical compliment. Why? Many reasons, but mostly, I remember comparing my own physicality to my Barbie’s and always feeling inadequate. Those early thoughts played heavily into how I viewed my own beauty and desirability. And quite simply, I wanted her to play and imagine bigger. Unfortunately, society plays by different rules and despite my best efforts, the world stuck its claws into her any way.
It’s a sickness y’all, a poison. And we are feeding it to our own children. This idea that what a woman looks like is so much more important than who she actually is (you know things like her thoughts, ideas, values, hopes, dreams, aspirations) is a terrible tragedy. What will you do to end body shaming? What are you already doing?