Just because I don’t fit a size 0 doesn’t mean I’m pregnant. (Okay, I might not even fit size 8 or 10 – still, not pregnant!) I am half expecting someone walking up to me suggesting taking the fat of my butt and my hips and putting it a level higher up – apparently bigger breasts are accepted.
No matter if man or woman – or any gender really – body shaming is a real issue.
I’ve watched the film Embrace and even though it doesn’t proclaim new insights or portrays revolutionary ideas it is an eye-opener.
We look at posters and ads – which are edited and everyone actually knows about that.
These posters and ads portray a certain appearance of a human being – which, in fact, doesn’t even look like the real model as it is edited.
We all then want to look like that girl, that boy. And even worse: if we don’t look like them – which, in fact, would be quite hard as the image is edited – we think we are not worth it.
And even worse, yes it gets worse, we shame human beings, judge human beings who don’t look like these posters and ads (and I know what I am talking about – I am too quick with a judgment about someone’s appearance).
I wonder: when did humankind become so obsessed with looks? I can hear you scream: well, isn’t it obvious? You need to look attractive, otherwise you don’t get a partner and thus, don’t reproduce and therefore it’s all biological. However, what we define as attractive has changed so much over time. More weight was good, less weight was good – at the moment nearly no weight is good. I am all for living healthy and treating your body with respect! But I doubt that size 0 is a healthy way of living for the majority of people. And how can a number on a scale tell us if we are healthy or how beautiful or lovable we are?! Nevertheless, I agree – yes, looks are biological. It is our genes that first of all define our looks. We can trick mother nature and dye our hair or lie in the sun to get darker skin or buy chemical products to bleach our skin. We can go and get a surgery to have the nose of our favorite actress or actor.
But: we are still stuck with our body, our very own body. The only one we’ve got!
How liberating is the idea that we like our body, not trying to conform to posters and ads (which are not portraying reality – I know I am stressing this quite a lot, but seriously – it is so ridiculous that we all know it and still buy into it!).
I have fallen for the “I hate my body, it is not thin/beautiful/smooth/…enough” narrative myself – like so many others. It is not only girls, and it is definitely true that parents shape the way children look at their bodies. Sometimes a women needs to become a mother, a man needs to become a father to realize: I don’t want my child to grow up with body issues. I want to teach her/him that they are beautiful just the way they are. But in order to be able to teach this, parents need to live by this as well. Luckily, I don’t have to wait to be a mother to say: enough is enough.
I am not thin, I don’t have a flat stomach, I have hips and a good size pair of legs. I have days where I can’t stand watching myself in the mirror. Days where I feel detached from that person staring back at me. Or even: I want to be detached from that person, that body.
And I don’t want that anymore. I don’t want to feel bad, ugly, and shameful because I and others can see that there is some – and at some parts a lot of – flesh to my bones.
I actually want to feel happy and grateful that I get another day; that I get to live.
When I was 16 years old I spent 6 months in New Zealand living in a host family and visiting a high school. That is definitely one of the most important experience I got to make. It sparked my wanderlust, my love for New Zealand and it gave me a family and friends at the other side of the world. When it was time to say goodbye – it was around December 6 – one should think I was sad to leave, but also excited to see my family, friends and tell them all about my adventures. I was both of it. And I was scared and felt shameful. I had gained 8-10 kilos during my time away. I was desperate and fearful of the reactions. I had told my mum about it so she wouldn’t be too shocked (no Skype back then, only the good old phone calls). I pictured myself going back to my class in Germany and feeling their eyes on me and whispering nasty comments
Shame was present in every thought concerning my body.
And I can hear the comments: if you don’t like the way you look, just eat less, just exercise. If you’re lazy it’s your own fault.
But what if most of that shame and fear is connected to what others might think and not how I feel? Of course, I exercise and try to eat healthy. I have done different diets. Still, for me it is hard – not impossible – to lose weight
When I arrived at the airport in Frankfurt my family (and our dog, of course) was waiting for me. There were a lot of hugs and kisses. No word about how I look, the weight I gained. The same when I came back to my class. They wanted to know about this special country and were impressed by my kiwi accent (which I don’t have anymore, unfortunately).
I have days when I feel good about myself, others when I just want to put on that huge jumper.
What if we could look into the mirror and see beauty?
What if we could put all this negativity and judgment about ourselves, which then gets projected as body shaming on others, behind?
What if we could just be grateful and wonder about the miraculous ways our body makes living our life possible?
These are pictures dating back to 2004, to the end of my stay in New Zealand. I probably don’t need to emphasize that these are highly emotional ones as I felt shameful about the way I looked. Still today it is hard for me to look at them. So please feel free to share this post, talk about it, comment – I am just asking for a respectful way of treating this topic as I am just starting to open up about it.