I don’t know many women who are truly happy with their bodies–at least, not many women who will admit to it. Maybe it’s because it’s swimsuit season, maybe it’s because of the culture we live in, maybe it’s the way we were raised. But it’s the truth.
I was talking with some girlfriends recently when the conversation predictably turned to how hard it is to shop: to find jeans that don’t give us muffin top, or a dress that adequately hides our big hips. I had plenty to say on this topic and jumped right in, identifying my biggest trouble spot and why it makes shopping so hard.
That night I got an email from my friend:
I have something to say and I hope I don’t offend you by it. While as your friend I want to hear your “stuff” it makes me feel like a fat slob in front of you when you grab a 1/4 inch piece of skin (not fat) and say you’re flabby! You look great, and that piece of skin around your middle shouldn’t even be on your radar, girl!
I was surprised to get that email, but I respected my friend for having the guts to send it. I’m not one of the 8 women in the world who look like a supermodel, but really, I’ve got nothing to complain about–and she called me on it. We all need friends like this who will open our eyes to our own stupid attitudes when we need it.
Women can be far too eager to affirm the viewpoints and actions of others, even when they’re way off base. So when a friend complains about her body, too many of us are likely to empathize by trash-talking our own bodies, too. It’s a hard cycle to break: if everyone else is so unhappy with the way their bodies look, then what right do we have to be happy with our own bodies? Are we really so much better than everybody else?
The problem is that in today’s culture, self-loathing is more socially acceptable than self-acceptance. The problem isn’t our bodies; it’s our body image. Regardless of what your body looks like, beating yourself up about it helps no one, and perpetuates the vicious cycle. It takes guts to actually like your body–and to admit it to other women! But decide to pursue self-acceptance anyway. It’s better for women everywhere, and it’s way better for you.
So find yourself a friend who will tell it to you straight. Perhaps you need to give your friends permission to call you out when you’re wrong, instead of sincerely–but misguidedly–agreeing with everything you say about your body.
Better yet, be that kind of friend. Don’t let other women off the hook when they trash-talk their own bodies–call them out on it.
Next week I’ll tell you about the paradigm shift I made that made it easier for me to accept my own body. In the meantime, I highly recommend Sally’s post on how to be a body image role model.
Ladies, what do you think? Do you struggle with having a positive body image? Do your friends commiserate about their “problem areas” like mine do? Do you tell it like it is, or do you have friends that do?