Recently the conversation of bodies has been popping up over and over. It's on my mind, and it seems on other folks minds too. It's something I've struggled with forever, and I'm feeling a little helpless in changing the state of how women view themselves and their bodies. (More specifically, myself.)
I think telling you how the media distorts, directs and comments on the female body would be preaching to the choir. If you're reading this you probably already have a deep understanding of what being a woman in this culture means. How unhealthy the conversations surrounding bodies is - whether overweight or underweight there are a million implications on emotional and physical well being. But even if you find yourself in the target weight range for your specific body, you/I/we are still open to criticism.
But the saddest part about this, for me, is that we are often the ones to criticize ourselves and our fellow females first.
Clicking through the #memademay photos I was astounded by how many of us (myself included) post a picture with a disclaimer: "This isn't a great photo of me, but..." or "This isn't the most flattering picture of me but..." As my friend Dawn put it, we're apologizing for our existence. For not fitting the media's notion of beauty. For wearing comfortable clothes. For not being fashionable enough. For being too heavy. For being too skinny. Just for being ourselves.
Someone on IG recently said that every day is a battle between trying to be comfortable with her body and trying to change it. YES TO THAT. I felt that so deeply, it totally hit home. And while I hope to be my most healthy self, that feels like a different battle than being comfortable in my own skin. Those are hard pieces to maneuver. (Finding time for self care, being comfortable with myself regardless of what I look like, etc.) They are especially difficult to maneuver in a culture that bombards you with images of a prescribed notion of beauty.
While I can cut out certain pieces of media, distance myself from those images, make my own clothes that fit MY body, the media and their beauty notions aren't going anywhere soon. Trying to change that feels like an uphill battle. But I do think there are things we as women can do to change the way we talk about ourselves and other women.
For starters, be kind to yourself. Don't post a picture of yourself only to tell us how bad you look, how poorly your clothes fit, or point out that thing you hate about yourself, etc., etc. Post a picture boldly and proudly and say something kind about yourself. Own your own beauty. The more you say it, the sooner you'll start to know it.
Be kind to your fellow woman. I've never met a woman that didn't want to change something about her body. NEVER. (If you've met her maybe you can interview her and tell us all how she came to be so comfortable in her own skin.) Even if you're picking apart someone in a magazine, whom you've never met, she's a person too. And tearing down a picture of someone is actually tearing down a real person, even if you think they'll never hear it. Maybe the woman in the picture has an eating disorder. Maybe she's naturally really thin. Either way, it doesn't matter because maybe, probably, like me, (and possibly you?) she feels self conscious about herself. (And if she does have an eating disorder, your negative comments are certainly not doing anything to help that.) While we can't control the media, we can be mindful of how we contribute - or don't contribute - to a culture that degrades women's bodies. Whether a woman in a magazine, your mother, your sister, your friend, tell someone how perfectly beautiful they are. I'm sure we all don't hear it enough.
It might not seem like much, but it's a starting place. And if as women we all told ourselves and each other how beautiful and wonderful we are, I think it would build a strong defense against the the din outside.
Ready? I'll start.
See that picture up above? It's me, my body, with my baby girl on the inside. What an incredible thing, the female body. Mine brought two human lives into the world. Kept them safe and healthy and then nursed those tiny beings while they grew. The whole thing is damn miraculous. Thank you for that, body. You are beautiful. You made miracles.