...currently writing from: Nashville, TN
Two situations immediately come to mind when I think about my frustrations with body image:
1. Being on the receiving end of rude comments.
2. Feeling pressure to find something to critique about my body when someone else is critiquing theirs.
1. On rude comments…
I have always had a petite, slender build. It’s my natural body type. My whole family is petite, it’s in my genes. So how have I been on the receiving end of rude comments regarding body image?
“Eat something, you’re a stick.”
“You could use some meat on your bones.”
“You should eat more.”
I could go on. And often times it’s not what someone says, it’s how they say it.
People have said things to me that would normally be considered a "compliment," but with a tone of shock and disgust, as if my natural body type was disturbing or unnatural to them.
There seems to be this idea that people can make rude comments towards people with a slender build because they’re skinny. And: "...because they’re skinny, they must not take offense when others make unwarranted comments about their bodies, because they must not have any insecurities."
This is the farthest thing from the truth.
I’ve had my feelings hurt.
I’ve believed that I must look sickly based on others’ comments. I’ve become upset when I realized that often times when people said these rude comments to me, they were projecting how they felt about their bodies onto me. I've never wanted to make someone feel insecure about their body.
“Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt
This quote applies to so much more than just body image. My prayer is that we would be careful about what we project onto others. That we don’t buy into the myth that there is one perfect body type. We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made.
2. On the pressure to critique…
There are certain social cues we learn in the early stages of our lives. A common, and unfortunate one, is that if someone is complaining about a certain part of their body, you must find something about your body to complain about, too.
"Because if you don’t, you’re vain."
I can remember being in the the girl's locker room in high school in a circle of girls taking turns picking apart their noses, eyes, stomachs, you name it. When a conversation about our bodies turns into making lists of insecurities and trying to one-up each other on what we would change, the conversation becomes toxic and we invite others to pick at their insecurities.
How do we stop the cycle?
How do we gracefully avoid feeling the need to talk negatively about our bodies?
How do we encourage our peers to look at their bodies with love?
Remind each other that no one has a “perfect body.”
Everyone has insecurities, but there are way more beautiful things about you than there are things to point at and be unhappy with. Making lists of things you’d change about your body is exhausting.
Let’s use our energy in more productive ways.
Let’s build each other up.
- Claire Margaret Wilkins.