“Am I Fat?” “Tell me the truth, I’ve gained weight haven’t I?”, “I just feel so big and ugly.” Those are the questions I was asked time and again this weekend. From my mother.
Yeah, my momma she told me don’t worry about your size…
I have never met another woman that doesn’t dislike something about their bodies. We’re bombarded daily by images of perfect women with perfect lives, and even if their lives aren’t so perfect, it’s still very glamorous chaos. Those women in popular culture might be losing it, but they are losing it with several love interests, a career, a quirky friend – something is going right.
Now, I’m not in the habit of telling people they’re fat. Personally, I don’t like the word “fat” and the negativity that is associated with it. And when I told my mother that no, I didn’t think she was “fat” but yes, she had gained weight and that I was not a fan of the word “fat” in general…I was met with “Well then how else would you describe me/it?” and a defeated sigh.
Why should we call ourselves fat? Who determines what fat is? Fat in comparison to what? An unrealistic body image created by media? Why is she obsessed with what the number on the scale says and what size her jeans are? Why is anyone?
As a “woke” individual – as the kids say these days – you’d think this wouldn’t be an issue for me. Intellectually, I understand the historical contexts that have created stereotypes. I know when society transitioned their views on pudgy being beautiful to athletic to slim. I know the ideology and theory behind feminism, objectification, the idea of the male gaze, and all the other academic buzzwords that inform our ideas of beauty.
Despite all that, I look at myself and find myself lacking.
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top…
I hate my hips. I hate my boobs (anyone with large breasts understands my pain). I hate my flabby arms. There’s a lot of things I can look in the mirror and hate. I also feel like, as a single, almost-30-year-old woman, there’s a lot of pressure from friends, family, society, and myself to find and settle down with someone and dating isn’t always the best booster for your self-esteem. Especially in the hookup culture of Tinder and “Netflix and chill” where “hanging out” is as much of a label anyone is willing to put on a thing two people are doing together (Heaven forbid we use the word relationship), your body image can take a lot of hits. There are men that find me attractive, yes. What it tends to turn into though is feeling like cattle on the auctioning block. I want to feel pretty. I want to love my body. But I don’t want my worth and value defined by it, and often times, when dating, that’s sort of what it feels like. Check her teeth and gums. Good size hips there.
I’m tired of being ashamed of my body. Of not believing my husband when he tells me that I am beautiful. Naked. When he can see all my scars and rolls…every insecurity I have out there in the open, and still, he tells me that I am the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. It’s taken 8 years for him to get it through my thick skull, and he’s given up at times, and I’ve given up at times, but I am finally able to look at myself in the mirror – naked – and not cringe.
She said boys like a little more booty to hold at night…
Sex when you’re a single girl, at least when you are this single girl, is filled with a lot of doubt, insecurity and guilt. Guilt because of my faith, and since most of my relationships have epically failed, I’m scared it meant nothing to the other person. More than that, baring my body to someone who winds up rejecting me is not just emotionally painful, but it further demoralizes my own body image. Did he hate my hips too? Was it the stretch marks? I know I have that weird thing. Was I not good enough?
It’s that last question though, that I think we need to work on. As women, we will always find something about ourselves that we don’t like, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing completely. You should want to push yourself to be a better version of yourself – physically as well. But our physical appearance and body image is so wrapped up in our self-worth, and we define our worth so much by what others think of us – that we tend to find any imperfection as something that devalues us.
Ladies, we aren’t vehicles. We don’t depreciate in value as time goes on. Scars, blemishes, and imperfections don’t undercut our worth.
So, if that’s what you’re into… then go ahead and move along.
Until you start to change your opinion of your worth and value, until YOU start to believe in yourself, believe that you matter, believe you are good, I don’t think you’ll see a change in your body image. It’s human nature to want outside approval, and that’s okay. It’s wonderful when someone loves you. It’s wonderful when someone finds you attractive. But it’s not necessary. If you constantly measure yourself by others, you will never be happy. You can’t let others define how you see yourself. And I believe the hate we spew at our mirrors is really a reflection of how we view our whole selves, not just our outward appearance.
So to all you out there who look in the mirror every morning and feel depressed because of the way your clothes fit, or who step on the scale several times a day, or those who control every bite of food they take – you are beautiful. You are worthy. You are powerful and strong, and you can be anything you want to be. If you are truly unhappy with the way you look or feel, if there are genuine concerns with your body – change it. You can do it. But change because you want to be a better you. Don’t change because you think it will make people love you. If you start that, you’ll never stop, and eventually, you’ll lose who you are.
I’m sad that my mother hasn’t had that moment in her life. That she has never been comfortable enough with her own skin to feel beautiful without having someone constantly telling her. It’s a tireless battle, trying to convince someone to believe something that they have never believed.
It’s easy to give this advice, but hard to follow. How do we change our own self-image? How do we change the way we think of ourselves? How do we drown out those negative thoughts and voices from all the past hurts and insults? I honestly do not know the answer to that. All I can tell you is that every day, I try to make the choice to be happy and think positive over negative. I fail at it a lot, but since I’ve decided to make the conscious effort to try, I’ve noticed small differences in my attitude and my confidence. It won’t be easy, and I’m not sure how to even accomplish it, but I know that it will be worth it.
Because you know I’m all about that bass…
My mother can sing the words but she can’t feel them. What kind of world have we made that we can sing a song about loving ourselves no matter our shape and size…and probably half (or more) of the people singing it, don’t believe it.
-Morgan & Amber
Disclaimer: Obviously, the song does NOT belong to us and full credit for it goes to Meghan Trainor and her awesomeness.