Why is it that women are taught to hate their bodies? Why can’t women accept themselves as they are?
I have been pondering these questions in the past few days, wondering why I feel like it is wrong to accept my body as it is. It seems like I am not allowed to love my body unconditionally. I should always be trying to improve it or change it somehow because it will never be perfect. I know some of that is ED head still talking, but I also know some of it is not. Our society teaches girls from a young age that they need to be thin. When 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat, I believe we have a major problem in our society. Especially because this will continue throughout these girls’ lives, given that 80% of women are dissatisfied with their bodies.
I have a good temperament. Not a lot of things make me angry. But this does. The fact that our society shames women’s bodies for not being perfect makes me angry, mad, and frustrated. But it also makes me motivated, passionate, and driven to change this. I found out recently what I weigh now that I have been weight restored for a few months. When my dietician first told me my weight range, it was surprising how little it bothered me. Instead I felt all these feelings I just described because I hated the fact that there is so much weight to just a number. And I am not talking about physical weight. I have wasted far too many hours thinking about my body, exercise, and food.
Sometimes I wonder, what would I think about with all the free thinking capacity I could have by being free from my eating disorder? For such a long time all my spare thoughts have been centered around ED. Imagine what I could spend my time thinking about if my physical appearance didn’t matter so much. Imagine what all women could accomplish if our society were not so preoccupied with appearance. What inventions, movements, thinkers, world changers are missing from our lives because women are focused more on their looks than doing something important? Or what if successful women never became successful because they were too preoccupied with their bodies? Like what if Simone Biles thought she was too small and weak to be a gymnast? Or if Jennifer Lawrence actually cared that she is “overweight” for Hollywood? What if Susan B Anthony never fought for the right to vote because she didn’t like how she looked? How about if Hilary Clinton cared that people judge her pantsuits? Women have achieved unprecedented accomplishments in the last one hundred years, but so much more could be done if women were free from the limits of needing to have a good body.
It’s not like girls just wake up one day and decide to hate their bodies. Society teaches them to. So that means we can change this. It most definitely will not happen easily. Fat shaming is so ingrained in people today. But I honestly believe there is beauty in all bodies. The world would be so boring if we all looked like models. All women should feel beautiful how they look. As long as they are healthy that is what matters. Diversity in bodies is amazing. That is what I have been trying to focus on when I look at other people and I can promise you that it is rewarding to see value in all bodies.
The biggest factor that needs to change is the media. 100 Percent of What You See In Fashion Magazines Is Retouched, which is insane. When we see images in magazines we are literally comparing ourselves to women’s bodies that do not exist. Photoshop looks so real. There is no way to know if the images we are bombarded with are real. That’s why I think all images in the media, particularly advertisements, should be required to put a warning so you know you are seeing a photo shopped image. That could help make people realize that all these images are not real, instead of simply accepting them unquestioningly. Women have the right to be informed that what they are seeing is NOT real.
I also think we need representation of all types of bodies in the media. Models, who are unrepresentative of most women, take up the majority of the media. It makes a sickly image seem normal. When I look back at anorexic pictures of me it is still hard to see myself as sick. Sometimes I do, but other times I think about how I looked so skinny, like a model. This picture someone commented on saying I should model:
Now what does that tell you about models? That a lot of them are not healthy. These models should not be shown in the media because it makes people accustomed to unhealthy bodies. It is not like people were telling me “you look anorexic,” they were praising me. That to me shows how messed up our society is and that we have blindly accepted an unhealthy thinness ideal. Anorexic models should not be allowed to work. Models should be at a healthy weight if they are being put out there to the world representing what someone should look like.
There is so much more that could be discussed on this topic, but I will leave that for another day. For now, I would like to leave you with this. The media is hurting women. Instead of embracing ourselves as we are, we are taught that we are full of flaws. We are taught that thinness is perfection. We now need to fight to change this. Women of all different shapes and sizes are beautiful. Women are diverse and that diversity is special. Women could do so much more if they were free from the box of beauty standards which confines them. We must fight back by accepting our bodies as they are. We must expose the terrible reality of eating disorders. We must stop fat shaming. We must question the media we see. We must be body positive.