From Our ReadersI'm Tired of Girls Hating Their BodiesFrom Our Readers

I remember once when I was in elementary school, my mom let me shop by myself in Aeropostale, which of course made me feel really cool and sophisticated and independent. I picked out a few shirts (probably all plastered with felt letters spelling “Aeropostale,” because what else can you really buy there?) and headed to the dressing room, following two very hip, gorgeous teenage girls who I immediately admired for their middle-school wisdom. As I tried on my shirts, only really concerned with choosing the best shade of blue, I overheard their conversation in the stall next to me:

“Ew, look at how flabby my arms are in this dress! They’re like three times as big when I put my arms by my sides. I’m so fat.”

“You, fat?! Look at this!” the other girl said, probably pinching her barely-there arm fat, “I wish I could pull off that dress like you, you’re so skinny!”

It had never really occurred to me before then to hate my body. I immediately looked at my own arms and realized that they did, in fact, get significantly larger when they were by my sides. Did that mean the other kids would secretly make fun of me? Would I only be able to impress the 5th graders if I wore long-sleeved shirts year-round?

I’m in college now, but I still hear these types of comments left and right when I go shopping with my friends. A lot of the time, I don’t even notice; I’m a teenage girl, and I’ve been genetically programmed to spew these types of self-hating comments since before I hit puberty. To us, it’s normal. But the damage is two-fold – while you’re reinforcing whatever you’ve convinced yourself you hate about your own body, you’re also asking the person you’re talking to to second-guess about themselves.

Skinny is this thing you’re supposed to strive for, and then complain about once you achieve it. The skinny girls think they aren’t real women if they don’t have sexy curves, while the bigger girls feel like they have to hide their fat and cellulite. If you’re skinny, you’re not allowed to complain about your body; any complaint is met with a “Shut up, you’re so skinny!” as if your weight invalidates your ability to be self-conscious.

I never want to be the kind of person that makes other people feel like they should be self-conscious about their bodies. Life is so much better when you accept the body you have (even if you’re still trying to achieve the body you want).

I’m not trying to imply that I have done this — I am more guilty than anyone of poking at my stomach in front of the mirror and basing my self-worth on a number on the scale. I used to be obsessed with my weight, to the point where I planned out weeks of food and exercise plans and punished myself severely for breaking them. And I looked like this: (See Link 1 – This was the only full-body picture I could find.; I was 16, sleeping on the side of a mountain because I literally could not find the strength to make it farther up the incline to my hotel.)

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  1. Not so much “genetically programmed,” as nurtured or conditioned. Closer to sociologically programmed.

  2. Not only a problem for girls.

  3. “It’s all about the mind. The rest is just transport.” – Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch)

  4. Consumer society does not want happy, self-confident people.
    They want us unhappy, so we can consume and consume products and diets and so much crap, and all of that are false ways to happiness.

  5. This is really great! I am an incredibly self confident person, I love my body. Being healthy and a good person are really what make someone ‘beautiful’ in my opinion. So many of my friends have body issues, and I am constantly trying to tell them that. One of my friends moms ACTUALLY told her daughter that she should be more dedicated to her work out and diet so she could look like me (I am a naturally skinny person, she is a naturally broad-bodied person.) This to me was just so wrong. She will never be as small as I am, because genetics make that impossible, and there is nothing wrong with that. She is still a beautiful person. She is one of the healthiest people I know, and I really admire her for that! Expecting more of her is unfair. She actually lost 20lb one time and then gained it back, and guess what? I didn’t notice AT ALL. Individuals notice their ‘flaws’ way more than other people do. Way too much emphasis is placed on girls to be ‘pretty’ and ‘skinny’, and people feel the need to bring others down if they are not with these unrealistic expectations. We just need to love ourselves and each other.

  6. It’s also important to not lose respect for women with self-image issues. Mine were pretty bad not that long ago and borderlined on Body Dysmorphic disorder. I would constantly measure myself/weigh myself/ etc. I used to actually be friends with someone who supported loving her body as she did but didn’t understand where I was coming from at all and the tone of this article really reminds me of things she would tell me. Her only advice ever to me was basically “get over it,” which didn’t help at all. I think instead of being frustrated and blaming these women, we should blame our society and try and change it so women don’t feel compelled to be so obsessed with how they look.

  7. A couple of years ago, I was in JC Penney’s and asked the saleswoman in the lingerie department if they had racerback bras. She looked at me critically and said, “Not in YOUR size!” and went back to putting up stock.

  8. Speaking as someone who has a lot of weight to lose…..when I happen to be in front of the mirror naked, I say the following…cute hair, pretty ayes, nice boobs (pushing them up :-) ….all is awesome, and ignore the rest. Just focus on the positive. I do get frustrated because I do try and want to lose weight but I do not hate my body…it reflects my struggles and my path.

  9. I stopped caring about what my body looked like after I got pregnant. Sure, it bummed me out when I got stretch marks, but I wouldn’t change my tiger stripes for the world because I got a gorgeous little princess as a result. And it’s not like she’ll care that I dont have a toned stomach.

  10. I totally agree, and love this part “only food farmed by a Venezuelan sea monster”. I’m always happier, when I stop pointing out my flaws but even more, I FORGET THAT I HAVE FLAWS! Self love should be the ultimate goal, not a number on the scale.