So. Today I really want to just write a little about a problem that causes me a lot of stress, as a teen girl and all that.
It’s a little thing called Body Image.
I don’t want to be sexist because I know that guys struggle with it too, sometimes in different ways, but still legitimately, but obviously it is an issue that tends to affect girls, a lot.
I am slim. Skinny, even, if you ask some. I’m incredibly lucky – I mean, my diet has lots of chocolate and ice cream in it and I do no more exercise than running upstairs when overly excited, and the bare minimum I have to do at school each week. So, compared to lots of other girls, I feel really blessed to have such a ‘good body’.
But I hate my stomach with such an overwhelming passion. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts – most of my excess fat is all concentrated in my abdominal area, or, basically, I have a flabby stomach and no perfectly toned abs.
Anyway, sometimes I admit to people that I feel fat, and they tell me ‘Don’t be an idiot, you’re so skinny.’ That’s great, it makes me feel good. Me? Skinny? Yes! I have achieved that coveted goal, of skinniness. Three cheers and huzzah!
Then I think: wait. No. They don’t understand. They can’t see my stomach. I never show it, if I can help it, so people don’t know I have a flabby stomach, so they think I’m skinny. That’s great, but I want to be able to wear what I want (aka, swimsuits) and not worry that I’m exposing my secret fatness, that now everyone will revise their opinions of my figure.
Really, being told I’m skinny doesn’t help. Because it rings false in my ears: they’ve never seen my actual figure, not really, I’ve never dared wear a swimsuit in front of anyone I know but my best friend (who is significantly larger than me anyway) and close family.
You know what would be a million times more helpful? “Sure, you don’t have abs but you’re still slim and attractive ANYWAY. Despite the slight flabbiness.”
Obviously, that’s a little cheesy-sounding, but that’s the way such comments must be. And yes, I am aware that this entire post may sound as though I’m just fishing for more precise, accurate compliments on my supposed slimness and good looks, but honestly, it’s not really about that.
My point is: our method of making people feel better about themselves should NOT be these pointless white lies. No, we are not all super skinny. Fact. But then again – do men (or of course bi/gay women) really find a soft plump stomach THAT repulsive? I think not.
I know I’m just one of a million voices saying ‘Please can we stop with this whole myth that men only like super skinny women.’ But seriously. Can we? I am so sick and tired of feeling like a bloated whale because of my stomach. I feel like I’m pregnant or something, like this mound of flesh above my hips must be garishly visible to all around me and serve as a beacon light of unattractiveness. And that makes me angry. I should not be caring so much about what people think of my looks, it’s true. I know that, you know that, we all know it. But the fact of the matter remains, I will still care about how I perceive myself!
No matter how often we are reminded that we should not measure our self-worth by how pretty men find us, a) People totally do still rate each other by their appearance and it’s just really really hard to rise above all that and be one of the few saying ‘No, I shan’t give in to this stupid, outdated tradition.’ Our society needs to change, that much is obvious, but being the lone girl in any given situation refusing to care about her looks is ridiculously difficult, because we can’t control other people – we can’t make THEM not judge us on our appearance, no matter how much we don’t do it ourselves.
And b), should our appearance not be something we prize? Everyone says that it should be our brain power that counts, or our feelings and emotions, all those things that make us ‘who we are’. But in my opinion, your appearance is still something you can be proud of – it just shouldn’t be something you’re altering drastically to please either yourself or others.
Think of physical beauty as being like a talent – some people are really great musicians, naturally. We applaud them and encourage them to share their talent with the world, we give them compliments – ‘How wonderful is Louise on the flute? She’s amazing!’ But we don’t judge others because they CAN’T play music so fantastically – nobody says ‘No, Carol, we won’t listen to you because you suck at violin.’ So should we not treat beauty as a talent?
In any case, whether or not you agree with me, I feel I have the right to make my own decisions about how much I value my appearance. And I would like to look and feel good, just like anyone would, just like I would also like to be a talented musician. And, if beauty is such a subjective thing anyway – beauty is in the eye of the beholder – why is it that I automatically dismiss my body as ‘ruined’ by the horrendous bulge in my waistline? It’s such a slight bulge, my body is otherwise quite great, yet still I am stuck on the issue of my fat stomach.
I don’t want to stand for it any longer. I want to say ‘No! Screw this. My stomach isn’t perfectly flat, but it doesn’t ruin my figure either. Guys can – and presumably will – still think I’m totally sexy or cute or hot or beautiful or pretty, even though I have a bit of flab on my stomach.’ And maybe one day I will. Right now, it’s hard, but I’m trying to get there.
I already know my value is not dictated by my size or looks, but that doesn’t mean I don’t value being thought of as attractive. And I should still be able to achieve that.