January 20, 2011 love your body. truly.
get ready for a long one. i’m feeling introspective and thoughtful.
the other day i drove home for a graduation dinner with my family. i went home early to do some laundry because, you know, i’m cheap and doing laundry for free is pretty cool and economical and stuff. plus i got to hang out with my brother for a little bit as well as my parents. (and put that treadmill to some use!) but i got something else i didn’t expect.
my mom subscribes to a lot of magazines. well, i should say my parents subscribe to a lot of magazines. my mom, however, subscribes to kind of superficial, frivolous magazines that all look eerily familiar whenever i flip through the pages. as i perused the stacks (literally) of magazines, i happened upon one i never knew i would open: ladies home journal.
i know — ladies home journal? did i suddenly need to know how to use a crock pot or desperately need to knit a scarf? normally, i might take one look at this magazine and pass too much judgement to even bother opening it (obviously, if you couldn’t tell). this time though, something compelled me to open it. i blame it on the article entitled “how to raise a girl with good body confidence”.
well shit, i thought, how the hell do you do that?
it’s not easy. and no, i wouldn’t know. but i do know that i am a daughter, one who happens to have been raised by a woman who spent ample time unknowingly shaping the way i viewed my body. i grew up in alongside a mother who loathed her appearance, who looked for opportunities to talk badly about herself, who dieted on and off, who worried about fat, food, and her body, a woman who never loved herself enough to see what i see: someone beautiful.
all the negativity, unfortunately, rubbed off on me. i was raised on insecurity. body-snarking became something of an art form for me. the reflection in the mirror never showed me the kind words friends and family members applied to me. the reflection did not reflect the intelligent, witty, friendly, compassionate, curly-haired, curvy beauty everyone else saw.
instead, i chose to let it show me what i was never enough of. i was never thin enough, never straight enough, never pretty enough. i was never enough of anything. all this self-hatred manifested itself in different ways. depression, eating disorders, feelings of unworthiness.
a few weeks ago i unearthed my old middle school journal. in its pages are the first seeds of my body conscious. i call myself fat. i call myself ugly. at age twelve. it’s funny and sad to see the same words in my present day journal. for over a decade i’ve lugged around these feelings of shame and embarrassment towards my body. for ten years. when i think of all i could have been spending my time on instead of worrying about my appearance, i cringe.
inside the article in ladies home journal, the author compares the new years resolutions of women from the 19th century to women of the 21st century. the resolutions from the 19th century focused on using the new year to become a better person, a more helpful, compassionate, patient, and learned woman. the resolutions of the women from the 21st century concerned weight and appearance.
we all know the new year brings with it a new, often times temporary, fervor for physical health. advertisements containing weight loss supplements bombard us. gyms shove membership discounts down our throats. magazine covers boast ways in which to get you “on the right track.” but whose track are we jumping on? is it really our own anyway?
the western world doesn’t seem to get it. we’re too focused on the physical aspect of health. what about mental health? what about the health of your character? do these things not matter in our society anymore? i am wondering when we started to value ourselves solely on our outsides instead of on our insides. shouldn’t the goodness of your character hold more weight than the flatness of your stomach, the shape of your ass?
all this thinking (stemmed from a single little two page article nonetheless) lead me to make an abrupt change in my life. two days ago i made a pledge to myself, a resolution if you want to call it that. i promised myself to never, ever use the word “fat” in reference to my body again. from now on, the word “fat” will forever be nonexistent in my vocabulary after years of using it. the word “fat” carries with it so much stigma. it is just a feeling, usually, a state of mind. not the actual truth.
fat is not the enemy. your body is not the enemy. because bodies are beautiful things. and all bodies are beautiful things.
want to take the no-to-fat pledge with me? got any other words you think should be banned from our vocabulary when referencing our appearance?
want more reading on similar topics? check these lovely ladies out:
emilie started a new project: embrace:ME
kailey dropped -er words
and this lovely woman posted an entire slew of body loving articles!
(and now i am going to lower myself off my soapbox)