How to Feel Beautiful in your Skin: Perpetuating body support

No matter the era, it would appear that women are victims of the media, told to dislike their bodies for one reason or another. Women in social and consumer media are constantly photoshopped to be a perfect version of themselves--can those modified images even be considered the same person? The saddest part about this digital, social attack on women, is it doesn’t stop once it reaches media. Women continue to spew shit and attack each other worse than companies trying to convince women that they need a certain product this, or makeup that, to feel beautiful in their skin. It’s a damn shame that women are so used to taking criticism that they have no problem openly giving unwanted, unwarranted criticism about traits that we have no right to judge or critique.

It’s not just about being thin any more. Nor is it about being curvy, lush, or thick. If you’re a woman, if you live in society, and if anything in your entire life has affected the way you physically appear to the world: you are in the wrong.

Let me exemplify for you.

A woman eats and eats and eats, but she can’t seem to gain even a fraction of a pound. What do people say to her? What do her friends say to her? They sneer in jealousy, ridiculing, “You’re too thin, you should eat more.” But have they bothered to ask if she does? They claim, “You’re so fake, you’re just thin because you want to fit in.” But maybe it's not because she wants to fit in. Someone exclaims, “You’re so flat, where are your boobs and ass?” As if she needs a reminder that she’s insecure about her lacking curves—something society deems a woman needs to be sexy, to be beautiful.

A woman weighs in at 230 pounds, she’s tried diet after diet, has starved herself to the point of exhaustion, and has depleted her remaining energies working out at the gym[1]. A stranger on the street walks by her, muttering, “Damn! That’s a big bitch.” That stranger doesn’t know her struggle. Perhaps a woman gives her a look of unrelenting disgust, “Have some dignity and control your appetite—being unhealthy and fat is not a fad.” The commenting woman should consider the life of the woman she's judging before opening her mouth, spewing unnecessary poison.

A woman with curves in all the right places and an hourglass figure is catcalled. She’s treated like a piece of meat, making her feel insecure and unsure of her worth. Other women glare at her as they walk by, “Slut.” They think: surely she’s putting it on display for attention. She tries to hide her ample bust under sweatshirts and baggy pants, maybe that will appease her attackers. “How fugly, why don’t you dress nicer?” someone else critiques. There’s no winning for this curvaceous woman.

If you haven’t been in at least one of those situations or somewhere in-between, you’re lying to yourself. A stranger may not have spoken me to on the street, but my best friend used to glare at me, she used to hit me, and frown at me—why? Because I was skinnier than her: I was thin, and slender, and could eat my weight in sweets and have no weight fluctuation (this is no longer a reality, but I still love food and sweets). She was bitter because my genetics determined my shape to be slender without work. Her genetics wouldn’t let her lose weight no matter how little or how healthy she ate, no matter how many hours she did drill practice, five days a week, for four years. My own best friend undermined me, made me feel guilty, and degraded the less ideal parts of my body (my “lack” of an ass) because she was jealous of my more societally “ideal” slenderness and bust.

On what planet is this kind of behavior from woman-to-woman okay? When is it ever condonable to allow friends, family, or strangers to degrade our bodies? Simply put: it’s not. Never is it ever okay to make your dear and loved ones feel insecure about their bodies. Never is it okay to talk shit about women you don’t know, slightly know, or otherwise: you don’t know their history; you don’t know their life.

The worst tools media uses to encourage product sales and insecurity are women; we are weapons in the media’s arsenal. Women are pitted against each other, creating disparity, distinctions, and classes of women. We can’t just be women: confident, beautiful, and serene. No, we are fat, or thin, curvy, or lush, pale, ugly, or pretty, slutty, or whores—there’s too much makeup, not enough, too much skin, not enough showing, too much breast, cleavage, and ass, or not enough for flirtation.

Women rarely encourage other women.

There’s a solution to this outrageous attack on our bodies: tell her—yes, any woman, stranger, friend, or foe—she’s beautiful, just the way she is. If we could make it a social norm to tell women traits about them that we love, whether physical or otherwise, we could increase the overall confidence of women, and even bring women up from the lows we encounter every day. If a woman is catcalled, step in and tell her, “You’re a beautiful woman, be confident and strong and keep moving forward.” If you hear someone call a woman fat, tell her, “You may have more curves and skin, but that gives you that much more to love about yourself—you are beautiful.” If you hear someone telling another girl to eat more, encourage her to follow her own desires, and that she’s still as beautiful as any woman in the world, the only limitations to her beauty are her own.

The video "Women Try Boudoir Photography for the First Time" inspires me to appreciate all shapes and sizes, we are all women. Michelle Wild, a Sexy Shutterbug Photographer, took women who were scared of their own skin, putting them in situations where they felt inadequate, and helped them to feel not only beautiful, but sexy and desirable as well. Wild made them feel confidence, and see how they can be confident, in their own skin. 

If we could all lift each other up instead of bringing each other down, this world would be an amazing place. Acceptance is something we all crave to some degree. If we could spread positivity, and actually treat our peers the way we want to be treated, we could become an empowered body. It takes nothing out of your life to be kind and positive to another human being, but it could be the difference between life and death for the person you insult. How is it we can slander and insult, yet these “opinions” aren't seriously considered as dangerous as guns and bullets? Once an idea leaves you mouth, it has the power to either do good, or to destroy. Negative opinions are forged by money-hungry corporations that don’t care if the makeup, clothes, or product you buy actually makes you feel beautiful—corporations just want to appeal to your need to be a consumer. Let's reject these ideas and stand up for all women.

 

 

 

Footnote:

[1] I would like to point out that I'm not arguing that obesity is an ideal state of health, merely that we should not shame anyone for their body image, regardless of her state of health.