If you wake up in the morning feeling fat, criticizing your looks in the mirror, wishing you could afford a myriad of plastic surgery procedures, and generally feeling like your body is more hopeless than wonderland, you are not alone. A 2012 study shows that 80% of women and over 50% of men feel like you. As a woman, I know that my breasts aren’t perky enough, my thighs are thin enough, my stomach isn’t flat enough, and I will never be as toned as the starlets who grace the red carpets and the covers of Sports Illustrated.Yesterday, things changed.
I don’t follow actresses and models. When someone drops the name of a super model I am likely to have a blank stare and no interest. Anything later than the Tyra Banks years is too new for me, but then I saw Kate Upton. It started with an off handed comment from a female co-worker, raving over how hot Ms. Upton’s pics looked on the SI Swimsuit Edition cover. “She’s got breasts! Her stomach isn’t concave. She looks like a woman!” That was all it took for me to Google the pics she was referencing. Given the controversy surrounding the size of runway models, this I had to see. Sadly, before I reached the point of full developing my girl crush, I was struck by the amount of results that criticized her body. By the time I reached the image tab I was completely confused. Some blogs were calling her thighs fat (one even likened her to a cow), TMZ staffers were seen on video making jokes about her size, and after a little Twitter research and help from a fellow Sprocket, found a tweet from a sports radio host calling her chunky.
It didn’t take me long to go from Girl Crush to pissed off. For years we’ve been telling ourselves that the media is to blame for this misconception that the average woman should be 5’11″ and 110 pounds. We blame the airbrushing and tricks of light for that impossible ideal. Yet in this case, the media is celebrating Kate Upton, giving her one of the most coveted covers that a female model can aspire to. It’s not something that arrives wrapped in brown paper. It’s not a porn magazine. It’s mainstream and epic. Sports Illustrated chose Kate. Still, it’s the individuals, those glass house dwellers, that have the most to say. It plays out like a script from an after school special. Bullies with low self-esteem pick on kids for perceived flaws just to feel better about themselves. We see it in both men and women. When did it become okay to verbally eviscerate someone for not meeting the standards we set for them, even though we can’t meet them ourselves (yes, I’m referring to you Mr. Twitter)?
Is it really the media that is to blame for this “Mean Girl” mentality? I think the media feeds off of the people. They gave us what we’ve been asking for, a realistic image, and now she’s too fat? When did 36-25-34 on a woman of 5’11″ become chunky? We finally get what we want, and we find a reason to pick it apart anyway. I’m sorry, but this isn’t a media issue. This is a self-esteem issue. The issue is ours. It’s not okay. It’s time to stop pointing the finger at the media and do what our grandparents told us… mind the 3 fingers pointing back at you.
For Valentine’s Day this year and in honor of random act of kindness week here at SprocketInk, I would like to say this to all of the beautiful men and woman who struggle with body image issues; Whether you are 100 pounds or 300, whether you’re tall or short, whether your hair is curly or straight, regardless of your skin color, no matter what you think the world wants you to be… find something to love about yourself. Put aside the self-hate and loathing. Remember that we all have our perceived flaws. There will always be critics in the world, so why waste your own time picking yourself apart? Step above the fray and love yourself. Stop injecting “even though, and but, and except for” into your appraisals of others. Accept others for who they are on the inside and let them worry about what the outside. Be your own Valentine and pass the message on.
Someone out there loves you, maybe it should be you.