This past weekend I did a huge amount of shopping. I hadn’t been shopping since I started college and wanted to check out the outlets nearby. There are lots of awesome stores and I bought several cute dresses as well as some new workout gear. Monday it started bothering me that I bought a size X* pair of leggings, when a year ago I wore a size X. It was this constant thought in the back of my head for a good four hours I’d say. Normal people do not think about their body that much. But normal people also haven’t gained X amount of pounds within a year. Because of this it is also hard since I do not have an accurate image in my head of what my body looks like.
Sometimes I feel skinny. Sometimes I feel fat. Sometimes I feel average. Most of the time I just don’t know what I look like. That is part of being in ED recovery, but it still is unbelievably hard. Sometimes I see pictures taken recently and don’t recognize myself. Everything is bigger. My face looks different and fuller. I honestly feel like I look like a different person. Often I still have the image in my head of what I looked like as an anorexic. Then when I am confronted by what I actually look like it is hard to comprehend. It doesn’t help that what I see in the mirror often is manipulated by my brain. When I try on my new, bigger size X leggings I think I look a lot fatter than when I try on my broken in size X skinny jeans. It is my perspective though. I cannot look at my body objectively because I am in it and my brain has a lot to say about it.
I know I shouldn’t care about what size I am. The sizes in the clothing industry are skewed and not representative of real body sizes. I really recommend you watch this short video about how the sizing of clothing has developed! It describes how sizing can be exclusive of many people. Companies will create sizing that works for their target consumer. Vanity sizing is used to make customers feel better about their size. For this reason, sizing between stores and even within stores can be all over the place. The numbers really are random. Yet, we attach so much worth to these sizes. Not only that, but the ideal size has shrunk so much. Marilyn Monroe was considered skinny during her time, but today her size would be average at best. The norm for weight has gotten thinner over time and with it the clothing industry has made clothes that will fit smaller women. Comparing sizes of clothing is not an accurate way to determine your body’s health and worth.
There is no denying that it is hard to go against what society says though. We are taught from a young age that as a woman our size is an important part of our worth. This societal ideal is completely misogynist, but the media reinforces it. The woman shown in the media are only a select few. Most types of women are excluded. It is so easy to forget what real women look like, that we should not all look like models.
This was a good reminder for me:
So many businesses thrive off of women feeling bad about themselves. Women are taught that they should not be satisfied with how they look. That they need makeup, hairless legs, nail polish, dyed hair, dieting, new clothes, and an endless mass of other products and then they will be happy. The truth is even with all of these things, the only real thing that can truly make you happy is accepting who you are. Easier said than done. Trust me, I know.
There is no reason we have to believe the unrealistic ideals being presented to us. Question the images you are constantly bombarded with telling you what you should look like. Question what ads are enticing you to buy. Question why women are objectified for the pleasure of men. Question the lack of diversity represented in the media. Question why anyone would think you are not good enough just the way you are. Because there is absolutely no reason why you should not be good enough as you are. Anyone who tells you otherwise does not deserve a place in your life. And if it’s your own brain telling you that you are not enough, you must change the way your brain thinks. It doesn’t happen in one day. And our society will certainly not change overnight. But it’s worth a try because it’s better than hating your body for the rest of your life.
Size shouldn’t matter. Society makes it seem like it does. But it really shouldn’t. I love J.K. Rowling’s quote asking “is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.” I know it’s cheesy, but the measure of one’s worth should not be in number on a scale, but in character. I may not be as skinny as I was, but I am a lot more awesome than I was! I want size to not matter to me because by accepting myself as I am I can help EnD ED.
*Sharing the actual sizes and numbers would be counterproductive to the point I am trying to make in this blog post!