Sometimes, I forget that my body does not solely pertain to my stomach (which is not flat), my thighs (which are not slim), my arms (which are not toned), and my chest (no complaints there). I forget that my body encompasses everything. And for that, it is perfect. I have a mind that thinks, eyes that see, a nose that smells, teeth that chew, a tongue that tastes, lips that smile. Lungs that breathe, a heart that beats, a stomach that fills. I have arms that can hold and fingers that can write. Legs that can walk and feet that can dance. I’ve got it all, really.
So, why has it taken me this long to realize it? My body is perfect. It does everything that I want it to. It gives me everything so I can do everything that I want to do. Is it today’s society that I can lay blame on for finding my body to be inadequate at times? Is the media at fault for getting us down on ourselves by constantly displaying skinny girls on television, in magazines, lying across billboards?
Yes, today’s media and society do have some pull over body image—but haven’t they always? I mean, look at this vintage ad:
Come on! “Men wouldn’t look at me when I was skinny, but since I gained 10 pounds this new, easy way I have all the dates I want.” Women of 2012, isn’t that what you all want to hear? Wouldn’t you rather open up a magazine and see that clipping, instead of this? :
So, which is it? Fat or thin? Curvy or straight? Here’s my point: the media can stuff it. Sixty years ago, they wanted us to gain weight. Now, they want us to lose it (and lose it, and lose it, and then lose some more). Society just can’t make up its mind; however, I’ve made up mine. It’s taken me 23 years to bite my thumb at images of skinny girls dancing around my head (no, not in my head). Now I decide how I want to look, and I decide what look makes me feel good.
I’ve been the same height since I was about 13 years old: 5’7” (and ¾”…but I usually keep that part out). I have not, however, been the same weight. While remaining at five feet and seven inches tall, my boobs have grown, my hips have rounded, and my thighs have filled. I have fluctuated 25 pounds. I remained the same weight throughout high school (except for my failed attempt at starving myself. I tried to live off of 1000 calories a day while going to school, playing field hockey, and riding my horse. I only lost about 3 pounds, and gained a mean attitude. Let’s just say that didn’t last very long) and gradually gained 10 pounds over college. There was one year of college where I hit that 10 pound mark and kept going, for almost another 10 pounds. Let’s just say that didn’t last very long, either. Nowhere in that 25 pound range was I actually fat, although I felt it at times. I remember my future mother-in-law buying me a size large shirt for Christmas the year of college that I kept on…growing…and I was not happy. I may have packed on a few, I thought to myself, but I am not a size large!
I look back on that Christmas shirt memory and grimace. She never knew how I felt about it, for which I’m glad. But I feel silly now, having fretted over a size large. Ladies, sizes are not true these days. I’ll admit it—when I’m feeling down, I like to shop at J.Crew (regrettably the sale section only) because I’m a size 2 in their clothing. I have not been a size 2 since my oh-so-failed-starvation attempt in high school. Generally, I’m a size 6, which isn’t even that much of a difference. I can’t really explain it, though; sometimes wearing a tag (that nobody else will see) that reads size 2 just feels oh so good. But here’s the thing—while I pride myself in wearing a size 2 in J.Crew, I’ll admit that I opt for a size 8 or 10 at H&M. Sure, I could squeeze into a size 6 at H&M, but I wouldn’t look good. I’d be muffin-topping all over those skinny jeans. What I’m trying to say here is: how can I buy a size 2 skirt at J.Crew, walk across the mall, and buy a size 10 pair of pants at H&M, all in the same day? I didn’t gain any weight in that walk across the mall, even if I did grab a soft pretzel from Auntie Annie’s along the way.