Last week my 19-year-old cousin shared a story on Facebook about a woman at the gym body shaming her. I’d like to start by saying that my cousin is gorgeous. Not in the “she’s my family so I have to say that” kind of way. I mean it in the girls are definitely jealous of her kind of way. The fact that a complete stranger went out of their way to tell her that she wasn’t perfect infuriated me beyond belief, and thus I felt compelled to write a post.
I used to work in the fashion industry. I spent three years working as an assistant designer, two as a stylist, and four as a head designer.
I’ve then seen the pictures of these still not perfect girls photoshopped beyond recognition. Finally, I’ve witnessed the photos of these overly made up and overly criticized girls splashed across the covers of magazines where they are viewed as “how women should look.”
I left the fashion industry about a year ago and immediately felt the weight lifted off my shoulders. When I left I thought I was fat. I’m a size 6. I’m 5’7″ and weigh 136 lbs. When I left I thought I was ugly. In fact, I thought I was hideous because I didn’t have a perfect turned up nose. I once heard a photographer call a models profile “rough” and instruct people to only shoot her straight on. My nose was a lot “rougher” than hers.
My body that I used to internally shame is my body. It’s the same body that was there when I went to college. It was there when I got my first job. It took me around the world and back. Without it I don’t exist.
Just by switching from an environment that felt toxic to one of support and love has changed my opinion about myself completely. My physical appearance has not changed at all in the last year, but my thought process has. I’ve stopped looking at magazines. I’ve stopped comparing myself to people who don’t really exist. Instead, I look at the people on the sidewalk. The people who are simply living their lives. What I see are beautiful individuals who all have something to offer. No one is perfect, yet we all are in our own way.
Maybe no one will read this, and maybe no one will care, but it’s devastating to me that a woman could walk up to another woman and put them down with no regard for their feelings. If every woman simply complimented another woman on one thing they admire about them instead of body shaming them, maybe self confidence wouldn’t be so rare. Why do we insist on bringing each other down instead of raising each other up?
In an attempt to make the world a little bit better, I’m asking every person who reads this to compliment another woman today. It could be something as simple as “I like your hair” or “You look great.” As long as you genuinely mean it, why not tell them? Why not make their day? Why not build confidence instead of destroying it?