Body image

Every woman knows that, regardless of all her other achievements, she is a failure if she is not beautiful.

Germaine Greer, The Whole Woman

Currently reading: Morning Star by Pierce Brown
Currently listening to: Real Love Song by Nothing But Thieves

I got in a bit of an argument with a friend of mine today. The weight that I’ve lost came up, and she told me she hoped I didn’t lose a lot more. Turns out she thought I was 25 pounds lighter than I actually am. But her rationale was “Girl, you’ve got curves for days.” I pointed out that I probably would if I lost another 25 (thank you Italian peasant genes, I’m always going to have an ass and hips), but I need to get down to a healthier weight. But aside from that, I need to be fitter, healthier. For me, for my health, etc. Yes, how I look definitely plays a part in this, but my health and well-being plays a bigger part.

Which led into another conversation with a male coworker. He believes that pretty people will always have a leg up over non-pretty people. They’re forgiven more, they don’t have to work as hard, they’re given more opportunities, etc. I agree with that, to a point. Misogyny is definitely still a thing, there’s no doubt about it. But pretty people definitely do get a pass more than the average woman. And if you think about it, Hollywood just perpetuates that. The leading role always goes to a pretty woman. You don’t often see the plain Jane get the guy or dismantle the atomic bomb.

But body image is something many people, men and women, struggle with. Magazines, movies and TV, sports, you name it. Thin, beautiful, fit people. Most of us don’t want to make diet and exercise their second job. We don’t have access to personal trainers and chefs that can design a delicious and nutritious meal at the drop of a hat. It’s just not feasible, practical, or affordable. Sure, some of the gaps have closed a bit with things like meal delivery services, but that’s still not an option for a lot of people.

I’d like to say that we should all be happy with ourselves as we are, but we all know that isn’t realistic. And isn’t going to be realistic until probably never. Eating disorders are more prevalent than ever. And just normal diet and exercise can be dangerous to those of us that already struggle with mental illness. It’s an easy rabbit hole to fall down. It starts off innocently enough, and then it just starts to spiral. The fasting, the three a day intense workouts, the micromanaging calorie counting. I honestly don’t believe that anyone sets out to have an eating disorder. I find it hard to believe that someone wakes up one day and says, “you know what? I’m going to be bulimic today!” But it’s easy to latch onto an idea, and become obsessive about it. For a lot of us, that’s a hallmark of our mental illness.

When we look at ourselves in the mirror, for many of us, all we see are the things that we don’t like. The tummy, the thighs, the crooked nose, thin lips, whatever it is. But I’ve learned when other people look at you, for the most part those aren’t the things that they see. They see your bright eyes, your strong legs, your nice ass. And as you get to know people those things even become less obvious, and you love a person for who they are and not what they look like. And if you ask those people how they think you look, 9 times out of 10 they’re going to tell you that you look great, or they point out some specific positive thing you’ve got going on.

But most of us never believe them, or write off what they say specifically because they’re your friend and you know that they would never say anything that they think would hurt your feelings or make you feel bad about yourself.

There’s no easy way out of this predicament. All we see is negative, but when someone points out something positive you brush them off. I’ve heard that therapy can work, but I’ve got to say, all of the therapy I’ve done over the years to change negative thinking patterns has only about half worked, and I worked my ass off on that shit.

So yes, I will feel better about myself when I lose some (more) weight. Am I doing it for me? Yes. Am I doing it for reasons that are wrong, as well? Also, yes.

I guess that’s the best that I can hope for.

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