Over the years I have had many conversations with people (namely women) about body shapes and how people feel about their bodies. These conversations never come up in a formal way. Often they are the result of shopping for new clothes, going out to eat, and partaking in exercise classes.
I remember a year ago my friend and I were changing into our dance clothes because we were taking a dance class at a nearby studio. As we were changing in the locker room, my friend exclaimed “Oh look, a scale!” I remember seeing it before and made sure not to say anything, just so I wouldn’t have to weigh myself. My friend stepped on and was instantly disappointed that she weighed 10 pounds less than she thought she did. When it was my turn, I weighed 10 pounds more than I thought I did. It was interesting how we were both equally disappointed. My friend was happy with the weight she was at and was disappointed that she had been unable to maintain it. I had been exercising regularly and eating healthily, so gaining ten pounds didn’t make sense! In that dance studio change room we exchanged our own little form of body dissatisfaction. Neither of us were totally satisfied with our weight, because in part, we have been trained to always look for imperfections. I forgot about it during our dance class but lamented to my aunt the next day over the phone. She calmly reminded me that I had been running on a regular basis (I was training for my first 5k) and how muscle weighs more than fat. So I just had strong thighs and calves! Thank goodness.
It’s interesting though. Even though all of these conversations about bodily dissatisfaction are seen as embarrassing or shameful, everyone in our culture does it! I have never talked to a single person who didn’t express some dissatisfaction with regards to how they look. I would even go so far as to argue that it is ‘in’ to complain about your appearance. No one wants to be the strong tall one (figuratively speaking) in a group that has nothing to contribute to the lamenting of extra fat around the mid-section, jiggly thighs, and thin arms. From my perspective, it seems as though disengaging from ‘fat talk’ sends the incorrect message that a person is too good to have flaws. I don’t agree with this, I think it would be great if more people disengaged from this type of behavior. But let’s think about it: we all want to fit in, and if we fit in by sharing the same type of dissatisfaction with others is a way to do it, it’s an easy route to take.
But here’s a revolutionary idea: What if we actually loved our bodies and had no problem with it? What if we just said, “yeah I’m hot!” And what if it wasn’t a lie you were making to yourself? What if you were actually in love with your curves, or how narrow your hips and legs are? What if you thought it was awesome how tiny your boobs are? What if, what if!
A couple of years ago I met a girl who was so obsessed with food and her appearance that every single conversation somehow gravitated towards the size of her stomach, food she wouldn’t allow herself to eat, and how she needed new pants because hers were too big. We weighed about the same (I only know this because she told me) yet she was much taller. I couldn’t help but turn over every stone of our conversation in my mind. Is it weird that I like the way I look, even though I like to eat pizza and ice cream on occasion and even though my stomach isn’t flat? Life is bizarre. She looked more like the ideal form of female beauty than I did, yet she seemed to be more unhappy with her appearance than I was. I found these conversations to be very triggering. I began to wonder if it was bad that I was content with my body, despite some extra weight around the mid-section and curvy hips. Was it okay to be happy with the way I was? Did I need to monitor my eating in order to be happy with myself?
Apparently not, because it was obvious how unhappy this girl was with her appearance. And no kidding! I would be unhappy too if I saw all my friends enjoying food that I love, but wouldn’t allow myself to have.
This girl has her own story, and it’s not my job to tell it for her. In a way though, I am glad we had the conversations that we did, because it makes me more aware of what’s triggering for me. Also, I try to shut down those “You’re-not-good-enough” thoughts as quickly as they come, because I’ve learned that they waste hours, days, weeks and sometimes years of amazing life that could be lived to its maximum potential. Also, let’s face it: we all have days where we feel crummy about ourselves and that’s okay. It’s hard to feel fantastic 100% of the time. But in the meantime, I’m going to continue to work at loving me for who I am, and not be ashamed or embarrassed about it.
Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to share any of your thoughts! I would love to read them! xox