I was recently talking with a sweet friend of mine about topics of body confidence and sexuality, and in this conversation, my friend and I addressed an issue I’d like to discuss today:
My friend, a beautiful mother of four, has been struggling with her self-confidence due to the intense pressure she feels to not just be a nurturing and involved mother, but to also run a successful business, take care of her home, and be a sexy and arousing wife. After I encouraged and reassured her that she was doing an excellent job at all of the above, I made a comment she was not expecting, “If it makes you feel any better, I get that kind of crap from people too.”
Her expression was surprised to say the least, as she sat there listening to me, a child-free twenty-something in a black crop top, explain that being athletic or thin does not make one immune to criticism.
Regardless of what side of the physical “fence” you’re on, people will make comments, people will interject their opinions of what you should or should not look like, and people will criticize and judge…
And it really has nothing to do with you at all.
I am a huge proponent for body confidence and embracing all shapes and sizes as uniquely beautiful. Unfortunately, our quest for such accomplishments has been damaged in part, due to the immense rise of social media and its impact on relational culture.
Let me explain.
Think about any social media platform: they all claim to connect people, but what actually perpetuates the culture of the network? Comparison:
How many likes I have compared to everyone else.
How beautiful I look compared to everyone else.
How many shares my content has compared to everyone else's.
How successful my life appears compared to everyone else.
How many followers I have compared to everyone else.
How happy I seem compared to everyone else.
We claim to be connecting, but we’re really just chronically comparing. And this comparison culture has programmed us to seek shallow (and instant) validation, versus authentic, vulnerable connection.
In essence, comparison culture has created relational consumerism.
Another unfortunate side effect of such comparison culture has been the shaming of one body type in order to encourage another. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen memes with full-figured girls in the background that read things like, “Real women have curves,” or “Real men like curves; only dogs go for bones,” etc., as though one body type is inherently unattractive or lacking sex appeal. According to this school of thought, only curvy or overweight bodies are beautiful and deserve empowerment.
You see, the same society that is shaming my beautiful friend for not yet having lost her baby weight while juggling four children, a husband, and a career, is the same society that tells her she is beautiful and sufficient just the way she is… how does that make sense?!
The same society that tells my friend that she is beautiful and sufficient just the way she is, considers me a “skinny bitch,” because I am naturally slender… how does that make sense?!
The same society that claims to want to empower all females, does not consider petite figures to be “real women,” because they’re not a plus-size DD… how does that make sense?!