I was talking to a friend the other day about body image and “feminism”. We were discussing the hypocrisy inherent in the way we act and feel about ourselves, compared to the things we say to other people.:
It doesn’t matter how big you are, as long as you are healthy. [I wish I were thinner]
It shouldn’t matter how you look- what’s on the inside: your smarts, your personality, your love… are more important. [I wish I were prettier]
You are not made up of the sum of others’ thoughts about you. You should not experience yourself as a reflection of what you imagine others are seeing, but as an individual in your own right. [I’d like to be thought well of]
Be yourself. [can I?]
See, what we feel on the inside is very different. For example- I am a firm believer in the fact that thin does not = healthy, and that health is more important than body size. That calorie intake is less important than nutrition. Yet I find myself restricting my food intake. Again. Part of this, I know, is me. It’s a psychological problem that I will (later…) have to address. At the same time, we live in a society that constantly drums into us that
beautiful + smart + thin= super-successful… but none of these things can stand alone.
I am quite smart… smart enough that I should (in one of those ideal worlds) be able to avoid falling into society’s trap. But what do I do? I look at models, actresses, other women, and think I wish I were that thin. And my body image distorts me out of all proportion until what I see in the mirror is an ungainly, unsightly person I can’t love. In 2011 I weighed and ate very, very little but what I saw in the mirror never matched up to that. And sometimes I wish I could be that thin again. I look at old photos with my bones folding outwards, my hair dullish and my face drawn. And I wish I could go back to it. Unhealthy, unattractive, thin.
“No pain, no gain.” “Big isn’t beautiful.” So
unsuccessful= even bigger
All of these equations are ones I disagree with wholeheartedly. I believe in looking however the hell you want. I believe in not having to shave, in not having to adhere to societal norms and ideals of beauty, in experiencing yourself as you are and not measuring yourself according to other peoples’ views of you.
Yet. All the while, the “yet”…