It came to me last night as I was googling the measurements of Gigi Hadid: 34-25-35. I took the measuring tape sitting next to me and as tightly as I could, wrapped it around my bust, waist, and hips. I squeezed as hard as I could around my waist, but the tape wouldn’t budge past 29. I was 4 inches too wide and 4 inches too fat.
I then googled the average model weight: 115-120 pounds. As I exhaled as much air from my lungs as I could, unrealistically hoping that it would make a difference, I stepped on the scale: 145.9. My heart sunk. Apparently I was 30 pounds overweight.
Holding the image in my head of what it would feel like to be ‘thin,’ I began the planning process of scouring the internet for weight loss tricks and fitspo. More than just an obsession, my body image shaped me. It constructed my daily thoughts, the guilt I felt after eating ice cream, the anxiety of waking up every morning and looking in the mirror to see if I’d gotten bigger overnight. How I felt about my body defined me. It still does.
Of course I’m not completely delusional. I’m actually completely aware of my disposition. But I nonetheless cannot align what I know with what I feel, and what I feel is contempt.
Granted, I have made major progress over the years regarding my self esteem. Throughout my adolescence, I’ve struggled with bulimia, though I never saw it as much of an issue. It was my own secret weapon: I could eat whatever I wanted without limit. I was in denial of the consequences, and luckily for me, I was able to stop myself before I experienced them. But one way or another, whether or not it was months since the last time I purged, I’d do it again. In fact, I’m struggling not to right now (and it’s been about a year since the last time I’ve forced myself to vomit).
Surface level, I try to perpetuate the image of confidence, the image of self love. I cover my disparaging view of myself with a bold smile, but the feeling of contempt is ever present. I’m a slave to my own self worth, and deep down, I truly don’t believe that I’ll ever escape. However, there lies somewhat of an irony in my thought processes: my unconditional love for others’ bodies.
It may seem somewhat ridiculous, but I love celebrating other peoples’ bodies. I dwell within stories of self celebration while simultaneously loathing my own. I love giving compliments, and encouraging self love, and rejoicing in the name of “love your body!” The feeling of exploring another person’s journey to find peace with their body in our ‘size six need not apply’ world is almost irreconcilable given my own self worth.
And maybe it’s just that: maybe I use the joy of seeing others love their bodies as a means to cope with my own self hatred – a sort of penance. Perhaps it’s the feeling of hope. If they can, then anyone can, including me. But I’m also quite convinced that there is not one human on this earth with access to sight and at least some exposure to pop culture that does not obsess over their body. How can one human get a glimpse of the bizarre and scrutinizing world we inhabit and not scrutinize their own self? One would have to be completely oblivious.
Unfortunately, there stands the very real chance that the intense perusal of bodies is irrevocable. My constant obsessing over my own body is quite possibly the product of the overall obsession with bodies. There is no escaping the chaotic madness of discussing bodies! Even the campaigns for self love are provoking intense self scrutiny. Take for example all of attempts to photograph or videotape women of all different sizes next to each other – no doubt we all still want to be the thinnest one there. The hole keeps getting deeper and deeper and without severe reconstruction, we may never be able to rise out. I, for one, have accepted the sentence that I’ll never truly love my body, but I’d like to provide an easier world for my future children.
The question of “is there even a solution?” still exists. Let’s start with cutting out talking about our bodies altogether. No more mentioning sizes, dishing out compliments/insults, celebrating different bodies for image alone. The possibility of this tactic’s effectiveness is severely overshadowed by its complete impracticality. Plus, this would have to be grandfathered in and start with ages three and younger – because we can’t just all of a sudden stop complimenting people. The world would simply implode.
Maybe a better solution would be to cut out body descriptive words altogether. Fat would only refer to the macromolecule, curvy is for a dangerous road you might want to buckle up for, and thin is the second word in the name of a certain brand of cracker. Yet this too wouldn’t work because these words could easily be replaced. Civilization thrives on categorization.
And my third solution relies on restructuring the way we even view our bodies. Let’s do an exercise: describe your body.
Okay. For those who described your body’s physical appearance, raise your hand. For those who described your body for what it’s able to do, raise your hand. I’m assuming many people would think to do the first option naturally, because we’re conditioned to view our bodies as objects and not as vessels to live. Just think about all of the amazing things that your body has done for you and can do for you. When you take a step back and view yourself through this lens, you might feel like a complete jerk for putting so much pressure on your appearance. However, our attention spans aren’t always the best, and considering most of us have grown up viewing our bodies as objects, we’re going to revert back to our normal ways.
So to this I say: I’m sorry to everyone who hates and or is obsessed with their body, but remember this: you’re very clearly not alone. The best you can do is maybe try to distract yourself, because it will never get any better.