This is one of those Emily rant posts.
To explain, in brief: I’m sick of all of you–ALL of you–talking about ‘body image’. As though this were a great social course of action.
Let me explain. I went to the doctor recently, and stepped on those shiny scales for the first time in a while. And, lemme tell you, I’m fat.
Hang on, hang on. The first person to post anything REMOTELY resembling ‘aw gurl, but ur beautiful just the way you are!’ gets a ham-handed slap in the face. I AM beautiful. It has nothing to do with my body or my face. Neither because of, nor in spite of.
I’ll also dope-slap the well-meaning person who says: “no ur not fat!!!oneone”
I’m many things in this world. I’m intelligent, witty, kind of an asshole, well-intentioned, socially stupid, fond of whiskey, women, and song. Or, well. Women and whiskey, anyway.
I also happen to not be blind. And those numbers told me, with a quick cross-indexing of the BMI chart taped to the weighing room door, that I am–
–in all actuality, devoid of any sentiment, while failing to suffer from ‘negative body image’ or the surprisingly societally prevalent idea that peer pressure, for some reason, is MORE LIKELY to affect overweight women than any other demographic in history–
Fascinatingly enough, I had trouble dragging this delicately worded truth out of my doctor. My DOCTOR. Who is the one person, in the world, who should be able to tell me with NO FEAR of offense if I’m doing something unhealthy.
No, I don’t need your shoulder to cry on. I don’t need you to dress me up in pinup costumes and photograph my soft mounds of flesh in an attempt to make me ‘feel positive’ about myself. I don’t give two blue balls in the innermost circle of hell about whether or not I match up to the picture society has painted for me to fit into. Frankly, I’ve never given much of a damn WHAT picture society paints. Of anything.
What I care about is that, for the first time in my life, I am unhealthily overweight. And I don’t look good, or feel good, about myself this way. Some girls can rock a little extra cushion. Some girls look stunning. I am not one. I look like a poached pear floating in a sea of ass.
Again–NOTHING to do with ‘society’. I’m very tired of ‘society’. It’s me. Just ME. This is how I feel.
So I’m dieting.
Cue the worried voices. Somehow, ‘dieting’ in our society has become associated with ‘starving yourself, giving in to the pressure of the masses, and stepping away from the ‘true you’ into the bigoted, stereotyping realm of the cultural whore.’ What it actually means, ladies and gents, is ‘exercising healthier habits and portion control in an attempt to get rid of the worst of your flab’.
Because your body and figure aren’t the ‘true you’. Associating these two things, in fact, is some of the MOST image-negative, shallow, and inappropriate nonsense you can foist upon your feel-good media feed of choice.
Any man or woman on earth has the right to diet, should they so choose. And, while it’s good that there are positive examples of bigger people in the media today–and while no one should ever have to feel bad about themselves because of their physical shape–I think we tackle this ‘problem’ the wrong way.
The problem isn’t the targeting of overweight people in the media. It isn’t coddling negative body image. It isn’t accepting yourself as you are–because sometimes, you just aren’t happy with how you are, and you’re not going to BE happy, and you’re better off devoting your energy to change than to meek acceptance and borrowed gratitude.
No. The problem is in the sheer amount of time and effort we devote to TALKING about body image.
Maybe you’re happy with how you look. Maybe you’re not. But either way, other people can’t see for you, and you can’t try to take their viewpoint as your own. Only you can see you the way you do.
And therein, perhaps, lies the secret. Yes, I’m overweight. Yes, I’d like to lose a little weight. Is this the sum total of my existence? Would I EVER let this tiny facet of the manifold presence that is myself become ME?
Nor should you.
My final view on the subject of ‘body image’: you should be happy with what you see in the mirror. If you’re not, work on it until you are. But don’t let it become WHO you are, happy or not.
You are just as much of a person–just as much of a full and complicated human being, whose views contain just as much complication and resonant depth–whether you’re fat or thin.
To this end, next time you give a compliment–especially to a lady–remember that there are things in this world other than attractiveness. Perhaps this person is also funny? A good dresser? Wrote a poem or story you think is great?
It’s natural to feel bad about yourself sometimes. If you’re a few pounds overweight, if you were mean to a coworker at lunch, if your hair looks like shit, if you pronounced ‘Prague’ to rhyme with ‘vague’ in conversation.
But you work on it, right? If it really bothers you. If you’re happy and healthy with a larger figure, go you. If you think Prague and vague is the only rhyme you can justifiably use, use it. If your coworker deserved it, fuck ‘im.
Because it’s all up to you.