“My breasts are saggy, my thighs covered in cellulite, my ass is droopy, and my stomach looks like I’m perpetually pregnant.” Seriously, this, THIS, is what women talk about when we’re together? Distress and anguish quickly turn to identifiable solutions - cleanses, detoxes, and workouts that are “sure to be the fix” to this newsworthy conundrum.
We should be ashamed of ourselves. Embarrassed!! We are smart, well-educated, savvy women who are kicking ass in this arena called life. We’re raising humans, running businesses and charities, and contributing on a larger scale than the women who came before us. Yet, body bashing is our universal language, our method for connection. Fuck that noise! I’m out!!
I’m no stranger to body hatred. For nearly a decade, I manipulated my body to make it smaller, more appealing, more ideal according to some manufactured and widely sold standard of beauty. My years of struggling with an eating disorder were my very darkest days. Thankfully it’s resolved, and now, as a therapist, I help others escape the grips of their eating disorder.
So imagine my horror, when I’ve sat, hour after hour, supporting people who are in an internal war with their body and minds, only later to meet with a group of girlfriend’s for dinner and learn that they too want to hate on their bodies. THIS is what they’ve chosen to talk about on our night out???!! I want to take my wine to the bar and be alone, or simply go home and put on my pajamas and watch Scandal. I’m just not up for this anymore. Quite frankly it’s boring, predictable, and incredibly disappointing.
In the past I sat silently, praying for the moment when the conversation would transition to a more meaningful topic. Later, I got a little bit more assertive and went to the bathroom, or played on my phone letting everyone know that I was bored to tears. But these days, I don’t give a shit, and I’m the first to say, “You guys, I was so excited to see you, but I’m annoyed we’re wasting our time together talking about something that is so, um, not important. I don’t feel connected to you when we talk about this; I just feel frustrated and lonely.”
Generally, this is around the time I lose a friend who will later talk smack on me, “Can you believe she said that...?” However, as I lay down in bed that night, I will get a text that goes like this: “Thank you for having the courage to speak up, I was feeling the same way but was too scared to say it.”
These types of conversations don’t serve anyone. No matter how compliment hungry the person is that starts the conversation, as all of the other women say, “Oh my gosh, Sally, quit being ridiculous! I would die to have your body!” That feedback might make you feel better for a minute, but you’re still going home to your cellulite... I’m just sayin’.
Do you ever hear a group of men lamenting that they’ve gained weight while on vacation, or over the holidays? Hell, no! So then why do we reduce ourselves to such nonsense? Ladies, c’mon, let’s evolve already!
I can tolerate a lot, but what I will quickly shut down is a woman berating her body, or talking about dieting in front of a child. She just taught that child that this is a socially acceptable way to talk. She taught the child, that even though she loves their body just as it is, it’s ok to hate her’s.
Unacceptable. The translation for a child is this, “If mom/auntie/neighbor lady doesn’t like her body, I wonder what she thinks about mine? If they’re worried about having big thighs, maybe I should worry about my thighs too.” Never, ever underestimate the power of your talk about your body around the “little people” that you love.
So ladies, haven’t we played this conversation out already? Let’s shut it down, once and for all. For each other, for the next generation that is listening to us, and mostly for ourselves. Our bodies weren’t meant to look like they once did when we were in high school. Our bodies are designed to change and morph with age and babies, and from the sun that warms us. Please be gentle with yourself. Love the body that has carried you through your one amazing life. Let’s praise our bodies and ditch all of the other bullshit. Are you in??
I'm curious, what do you do in similar situations? Do you contribute to the conversation, do you change the subject, or do you boldly say, ENOUGH! Let me know!!