In the past week I have had three separate conversations with friends of mine where we shared the areas of our bodies that we hate most. This probably happens all the time but for some reason I was particularly aware of it recently and it was pretty horrifying. When I look at the gorgeous women I am lucky enough to call friends I cannot see why they would be so daft as to think there is anything wrong with the way they look. However if I look at my thoughts about myself the narrative is very different.
“In a society that profits from your self-doubt liking yourself is a rebellious act.”
I can’t find who exactly is responsible for this quote but I feel strongly that it is a battle cry we should all embrace.
We are taught from as early as possible that our bodies are imperfect and will never be good enough. We don’t have to be told this outright, it is just a fact that we all inherently know. An ideal version of beauty is chosen for our times and this is what we must all aspire to look like. The problem being that this “ideal” really doesn’t exist. We can never be skinny enough, pretty enough, prefect enough. But we will spend our lifetimes trying to achieve it nevertheless.
One of the worst conversations women can surely have with each other is the self-deprecating discussion of what areas of their bodies they dislike the most. One may hate her arms and refuse to ever wear short sleeve tops even in the peak of summer, the other may hate her legs and how no matter what she tries they never seem to be slim enough. Both will admonish the others ridiculous claims and tell their friend that they have nothing to worry about, but neither will take this advice themselves. We can so easily see the beauty in the women around us, but find it almost impossible to extend this same kindness to ourselves.
Learning that the story we have all been fed is a lie and only a way to control us is freeing but even then overriding our training to not appreciate the way we look is a long and arduous journey. We continue to keep fighting to be thin, keep spending our income on miracle creams to “fix” our ageing faces, spending so much energy and time trying to perfect our “imperfect” selves.
What could we achieve if our attentions were not taken up with this Sisyphean ordeal? How would the beauty industry, the fashion industry and the health and exercise industries alter if we all decided to choose the radical path of loving ourselves and our bodies just as they are? Would the world collapse? Or would we finally have time to break the patriarchy wide open and force the world to give us true equality that still remains just out of reach? Probably not. But it is a lovely thought.
I guess for now I’ll keep trying to look at myself kindly, try to ignore what the scales tell me and keep attempting to shut down the self-doubt filled voice from within. I just hope it doesn’t take me a lifetime.