I struggle with the struggle of body image, loving yourself, healthy weight . . . all of the things that go into healthy regard for differences. There’s this no-win vortex.
- When you’re overweight, don’t body-shame yourself.
- When you lose weight, be careful how you announce it, lest you shame someone who hasn’t.
- When you’re too skinny, don’t body shame yourself.
- When you change your diet and work out to build muscle on those bones, don’t brag in a way that body shames the skinny girl.
We tiptoe around healthy body image vs. healthy body weight vs. loving where we are vs. setting goals for where we want to be. I have friends who have legitimately worked on nutrition and exercise, but when they take photos of themselves to show their progress, they include a “disclaimer” of sorts to make sure they don’t tread over those who are still in the struggle.
I’ve always struggled with weight. We set impossible standards. When I look back at photos of my younger self, I wonder why I felt like I was fat all those years. I was fine. Can I say that? Fat? Fine? But fat vs. fine is not the real struggle for me. And this is not about PC.
A few years ago, I was sitting on my friend’s patio across from her then boyfriend. I don’t remember what we were talking about but, apparently, we were disagreeing about something. I think he had had a few. When I felt like I was making a little traction in our discussion, he said:
Sit your fat ass down.
Can you hear me?
My friend apologized for her boyfriend’s comment. But my “whoa!” was not about his comment or my fat ass. At the time, my ass was bigger than I wanted, but I wondered Is that all you see? We were having a conversation. Is that really all you have?
I didn’t have a clever comeback in the moment. Honestly, I didn’t need one. I didn’t really care what he thought. But I’ve thought about that incident over the years. I realize that people, especially women, are dismissed if they’re too heavy, too skinny, too plain, too made-up, too pretty even! They don’t get to keep their voice at the table: Sit your ___ ass down!
I struggle with body image because it gets in the way when it shouldn’t. I remember an episode of a show Judd Hirsch was in, where he “met” a woman over the phone. They had several conversations and he pretty much fell in love with her. Then he met her in person, and she wasn’t what he expected.
I get it. Body chemistry counts for something. But it shouldn’t discount everything else. He liked her! She was funny. Clever. And Judd’s character could hear and understand her before he met her in physical.
Whoa! Sit your ass down! You don’t look like what I wanted.
I don’t have answers and I don’t think any single one of us can fix this. I’m also not unguilty of dismissing someone because they’re too something physically. But I’ll do my part to listen harder, hear better, see through it, and allow all the voices at the table —no matter what shape, color, or size— to be heard. Yeah. Even if you don’t or can’t, I’ll sit my fat ass down and listen.
©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2020.