If being thin is the answer. What is the Question? – Emma Woolf
There was an interesting question posed in the midst of World Cup fever this year. Should we be concerned that our young men might develop body image issues as a result of the world’s attention on the magnificent bodies of the male soccer players? Seriously, that just makes me want to scream. The fact that the question was posed is actually good in a backhanded kinda way. It will hopefully cause a discussion in other forums as well. Men are not immune to the pressures of society when it comes to body image. Seriously though? They have nothing on us women.
I read a preview for Emma Woolf’s new book ‘The Ministry of Thin: How the Pursuit of Perfection got out of Control’. She says, “These are the rules: ‘Thou shall not age; thou shall not be ugly; thou shall not be too emotionally open, nor too obviously clever -but being thin trumps them all.'”
I have grown up within our society’s body image bubble, which is much like trying to breathe through sand or walk through quicksand. Women have been dealing with this issue for a really long time. The beauty industry is literally, an all-consuming monster, that has trapped almost everyone. I say, almost, because I do know women and men who have decided not to drink the “Kool Aid” and join that party. Have they really though? Is it really that easy to get away from that voice in the back of your head that whispers to you that you are not good enough? Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not skinny enough. Let’s be honest here…it’s a human condition that most of us, whether we want to admit it or not, are not immune to.
It’s a really tough monster to fight. We are constantly fed images of often impossibly perfect women every single day, as though it is our birthright. Then as we grow up under the scrutiny of our parents, our peers, relatives, and society as a whole; the pressure mounts. Every one is hoping that they are blessed with good hair, straight teeth, glowing skin, long legs, and a nice smile, but most importantly are we thin? Where can I get off this train?
Everyone’s idea of perfection is different. For me as a young child, my blonde hair and blue eyes were not interesting to me. I felt like Jan Brady. I always yearned to be different; perhaps Italian with beautiful tan skin, Korean with beautiful long black shiny hair, or French with that impeccably sexy accent . I always wanted to look like anyone other than me. It’s not that I disliked me, actually, everything is good with me. It took a long time to be able to say that I like myself. I really do like myself…But, I still wish I looked better.
Most days I like who stares back at me in the mirror. She even smiles. She would like to be thinner though, as though that would make her happier. It’s a lie though. I bite into the lie most days, but I spit it out as soon as I can. I am so very grateful to be healthy and fit. I started to write this earlier and I had to call bullshit on myself. When I realized how whiney it sounded to be lamenting about body image when I have some friends who are very sick. I feel like an arse writing a piece on body image. As if I have anything to complain about. The truth is when it comes down to it I don’t. However, I think there are many women who can relate to this post and so I am going finish writing it.
Once upon a time, I was too skinny, oddly enough everyone told me how GREAT my emaciated self looked. That was a really unhappy and scary time for me. I realized that the man I had recently married was not who I thought he was. I was stuck, and so in a lame attempt to maintain some control of my life, I was slowly starving myself. Note to self…that doesn’t workout to well in the end.
Today I am on a quest for total self acceptance. It’s a high mountain to scale and anyone who says otherwise is playing you. What does it even mean? To be able to love yourself unconditionally. That is a radical thought to me, and yet, why is it? Probably because we have had it ingrained in our lovely brains that “being thin” is the answer. How can it be the answer when we were never asked the question?
I like myself, but I don’t always feel comfortable in my own skin. It’s like this body almost fits me, but it’s just not quite right. The monster runs deep like a virus. It’s pretty hard not to be brainwashed when the “ideal woman” is actually 8 different women photoshopped together to create one “perfect” looking woman. They morph the best legs, ass, abs, chest, shoulders, neck, and face together. Then they airbrush the photo to a seamless perfection for the cover of a magazine that will in turn continue brainwashing us that we are not quite “right”. Perpetuating the myth to the next generation.
I am giving myself a challenge and it’s really overdo, but one thing at a time I know. For the last 8 years I have been on a journey to my self. I have dug deep, faced demons, loved, lost, mourned, and learned who I am again after so many years in captivity. I feel like my body is secondary to my heart, soul, and mind. Yet I continually let it disrupt the balance that I have in my higher self. The body keeps getting in my way and distracting me from what I should be focusing on. I am going to learn to really accept my self head to toe. I am on a quest to love all the angles and curves that aren’t quite “right”. I am tired of feeling like I am always having a bad body day (akin to a bad hair day). It’s exhausting and the truth is it’s scaring me. What if I can never get to that point? I want to be a strong woman who can say when she is older that she accepts her self…body and soul. I really want to learn to celebrate my female form in all its glory. I brought children into this world through this body. That alone is the most magnificent and miraculous of all events and yet I cried myself to sleep the other night.
So, this is the beginning of a new path on my journey. I am going to really work at loving and accepting my body. I give thanks that I am healthy and that this body has taken me to many foreign lands. It has served me well and instead of criticizing it I should be thanking it. So, what was the question again?