By Amber DeFabio
You are fat, and you are ugly, and you are disgusting.
Taryn Brumfitt, like so many other women, hated her body. If it wasn't her thick thighs or pudgy belly, it was the extra skin under her arms or the fat on her back. However, Taryn Brumfitt, like so many other women, is far from what many of us would consider obese. Yet, it's these thoughts that fill 91% of American women's heads as they look at themselves in the mirror. That's over 157 million women looking at themselves everyday and hating what they see.
I loathed my body.
Women at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania are no different. 87 female students were asked upon their entrance into the Recreation Center if they had every body shamed a woman to her face or behind her back. 78 admitted that they had, while 9 denied it. However, I'm wondering if those 9 women thought about what they say or think about their own bodies, because that is body shaming as well. These were 87 women going to the gym to stay fit and work on themselves, and they were perpetrators of shaming other women. Even if those 9 women truly had never body shamed, that leaves about 90% of women in the sample who had, which is decently close to the overall 91% of the female American population.
Wobbly. Imperfect. Stumpy. Very average.
Which leads me into a story about two beautiful women who believed they were anything but.
Daphne Ancona and Erica Papp picked out what they hated about themselves everyday. Picture a young woman gripping the extra skin on her belly and thighs, judging herself so harshly that she wanted to look like anyone else. Imagine feeling like your worth and beauty were held in how you saw yourself, which with how you felt about yourself essentially meant you were worthless.
"I started to not fit in the same jean size I had consistently worn," Ancona said. "I was comparing myself to my friends, and I was self-conscious I didn't look like other girls."
In 10th grade, Ancona was a gymnast, and the sport of perfection drove her esteem into the ground.
"I was unhappy with how I looked and felt in my group of friends. I remember thinking they had these long, perfect legs, not that mine were fat, but because I am shorter, they just didn't look right," Ancona said.
For Ancona, she judged herself by how she thought other people viewed her. Papp grew up the same way. When people would tell her she was beautiful, she replied, "I wish I saw myself that way."
How am I going to teach her to love her body?
Ancona began going to the gym to impress those around her, but instead she found that she impressed herself.
"I had no idea what I was doing. I would do more cardio than weights at the beginning because you can't mess up on the treadmill," she said. "But when I switched my major, I knew if I wanted to inspire my clients, I would need to instill that confidence in myself first."
Where Ancona became a personal trainer, Papp joined the university's women's rugby team. Yet, both women are still faced with self-image issues, still constantly picking out what they can do to improve themselves. Body shaming and self-image is deeply routed into our culture.
I just want a taste of it; I want the perfect body.
Yet, even as these women work hard to improve their bodies and their confidence, there are still men and women that say, "She is too small," "She is too beefy," "She looks like a man," or "Does she even eat?"
How is any person, male or female, supposed to overcome their own self doubts when the doubts are just being confirmed by unkind words?
I did have the perfect body or near enough. And, you know what? Nothing changed about how I felt about my body.
Below are photos taken by Ancona and Papp to show their transitions, which took dedication and patience while they were slowly learning to love themselves outside of the way others loved or viewed them.
Just as we all need to do.