Let’s face it, it’s not easy being a woman when there’s so much focus placed on our physical appearance. In particular, the state and shape of our bodies. We are constantly being bombarded with images and messages that imply our bodies don’t look the way they should. They need to bigger, thinner, taller, shorter, tighter, curvier. Anything but how our bodies naturally are.
In addition to these messages, we also have to deal with the opinions of other people. And it seems everyone has an opinion. Now, I’m not sure how or when we started thinking it was okay to casually comment on another woman’s body, but here’s the thing: unless it’s complimentary, it’s not. That’s because it’s hard enough loving our own bodies without other people putting it down.
Recently I had a well-intentioned friend inform me that I was ‘too thin’ and that I needed to ‘put some weight on’. Immediately I felt ashamed and began explaining the reasons for my sudden weight loss. I told her that I’d been sick during which time the weight had fallen off. I was trying to put it back on, but my body was still recovering. It was taking time.
And then suddenly I stopped talking. I realised I was apologizing to this person because my body didn’t look the way she thought it should. A fierceness arose. This is my body we’re talking about, and my body is nobody else’s business.
‘You know what,’ I said, turning to face my friend. ‘Let’s not talk about my body which is perfect just the way it is.’
Throughout my life, I’ve been told countless times by countless people that I’m ‘too tall’ and ‘too thin’. When I was young, I was regularly accused of having an eating disorder even though I’ve always loved food and I’ve always enjoyed a healthy appetite.
Yes, I am naturally tall, and I am naturally thin. And no, I’ve never had an eating disorder. Still people still felt it was their duty to tell me that I needed to eat more and put some weight on.
In my twenties, I did some modelling, and I honestly can say I’ve never felt worse about myself or the way my body looked. There was always something wrong it, something that wasn’t right, something that needed to be improved. And there was always a casting director happy to point out these flaws.
Perhaps this is why I can no longer stay silent when other people comment or pass judgment on my body. These days, unless I ask for input, my body is not up for discussion. It’s the old adage, ‘Unless you have something nice to say, it’s best not to say anything at all.’
It’s time we started standing up, not just in our bodies, but for our bodies.
No one has the right to tell you what is right for your body or how it should look. Only you do. You know your body better than anyone, and you have the right to remind people of this who might believe and, therefore, act otherwise. Your body is nobody else’s business.
The fact is our bodies are walking and talking miracles. While writing this article, my body is keeping me alive without me having to lift a finger. My body is breathing oxygen, digesting food, regenerating the cells, absorbing nutrients and whatever else it does so brilliantly without my conscious awareness. Instead, my fingers are free to type these words.
How often we forget the miraculous nature of our bodies, most likely because we’re so focused on everything that’s wrong with them.
Most of us have a complex relationship with our bodies. We can all find a few things we’ve love to change. Personally, I’d love bigger boobs and a smaller nose. And sure, I could go and get those things ‘fixed’. But then what? There’ll always be something else. I’d rather save my money and learn to love myself instead.
Unfortunately, learning to love and accept yourself in a society filled with so many contradictory messages isn’t exactly easy. It’s no wonder cosmetic surgery is at record levels and on the rise.
But even if you don’t love and accept everything about your body, you can still stand up for it. You can protect it from the critical and judgmental eyes of others. The more I stand up for my body, even in the face of its seeming imperfections, the more I demonstrate my love and appreciation for it. And the more I come to love and accept it.
My body might not be perfect but it’s mine, and it’s the only one I’ve got. Your body is yours and it’s the only one you’ve got.
So, next time someone passes judgement on your body – on how it looks, on how much it weighs, on how it’s dressed – stand up for it. Remind the person that, while you appreciate their concern, unless they have something nice to say, their commentary is not required. That’s because your body is yours and it’s nobody else’s business.