I remember the day that I learned it was not okay to hate your body.
I was new to the women’s center. It was probably before I got hired on, when I was a volunteer intern. I said something negative about my body in front of everyone there. It seemed so run-of-the-mill to put myself down that I never even paused to think about what I was saying.
So, I was shocked when I was first called out for it.
“Put a quarter in the jar,” K demanded.
I must have looked utterly dumbfounded. “Why?”
“In here, we don’t talk poorly about ourselves because of how it makes others feel,” K replied.
Who was this person to think that she could tell me what I could and could not say. Hadn’t she ever heard of free speech?
I have a right to criticize myself, don’t I? Sure. A right. But what about common courtesy? What I didn’t know then, but I know now, is that in American society, courtesy about our bodies was tossed out the window a long time ago.
My friend K showed me that for every wrinkle, every curve on my body that didn’t meet society’s expectations, there was someone in the room with more wrinkles, bigger curves or a funnier looking nose.
This memory came up while reading a recent Shapely Prose article in which Kate is dealing with a post that has garnered comments of the “I love my body, but…” variety. She has put succinctly why it is NOT okay to put yourself down or talk about your ‘diet’ in front of others. And I quote:
- There is someone fatter than you. (Okay, technically, one person actually does have to be the official fattest Shapeling, but since we don’t know who that is, just go ahead and assume it’s not you.)
- There is someone whose shape is less conventionally attractive than yours.
- There is someone who has all the same problems as you but is also a member of other oppressed groups.
- There is someone with one or more disabilities.
- There is someone recovering from an eating disorder.
- There is someone currently struggling with a full-blown eating disorder.
- There are a couple thousand someones who are here because they’ve struggled with low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and/or disordered eating patterns over the course of their lives.
So when you say, “But MY body is disgusting because of X” or “I still need to diet because of Y,” what you are saying is that X and Y are disgusting and unacceptable characteristics, full stop — and the problem is, you can bet someone here shares those characteristics, or is worse off than you are, by your standards.
This is the standard of self-love that Kate sets for her community. I have a confession to make. I have utterly failed to encourage the same self-loving, healthy environment for my friends and family that the Women’s Center offered me.
Around me, people constantly talk about how much weight they need to lose and how much dieting has helped them feel better about themselves. And it breaks my heart everyday. Not just because of what they are saying about their own self-image but what that translates into when they look at me. It pisses me off that the diet, medical and media industries have influenced others to look down on me. Because I’m way better than that.
Wake up people. What you say does matter to the people around you. Stop vocalizing your self-hatred. Its time to dump the calorie counting, ditch the diet books and stand naked in front of the mirror with glee. Its time to embrace every butt dimple, to love every chin we have and to exhault the joys of back fat at the top of our lungs. Its time to shake what God gave us and love ourselves because we are healthy, happy, smart, independent, fuckable, sassy, proud women.
Anybody who’s selling you something called “health” that doesn’t involve loving yourself and your body first, is a charlatan.