I am a 30 year old woman that has had body image issues since I was about 10 years old. No matter how much I try to change this problem, it doesn’t go away. The influence of media and how we should look versus what we really look like. What we think the male species wants or is looking for.
I am not a small girl. I am a 5’11, big boobs, thick thighs, extra meat in the waist, curvy woman. No matter how badly or how much I try to change this, it’s who I am and how I’m built. I hated being tall for years. Guys would makes comments on my height all time, usually not compliments. If I wanted to wear heels to feel sexy and girly, I’m 6’2- 6’3 in them and then the comments like “do you really need to wear those? come on!” would come. Those comments still come but I’ve finally gotten over the fact that I’m tall. I had no say in my height, it’s just those good old genetics I got from my father.
My main problem with myself is and always has been my stomach. I fluctuate in weight, drastically at times. I lose 20lbs, gain 40, lose 60, gain 50 and currently down 25lbs on the struggle bus to lose 40 more. This is the area of my body I feel the most ugly about. If a guy were to put their hand on my waist, in my brain I immediately think “Oh my god, he feels my fat. I’m so disgusting.” In my head, I think my clothes can hide my fat pretty well so I think a guy has this perception of what my stomach or under the shirt looks like in his mind and the reality is a disappointment or turn off. This may not be at all the case but in my head that is the case with any guy. I feel undesirable and disgusting. I can look at myself in the mirror for 2 seconds before being so disgusted with myself and mentally rip myself apart. Not until recently have I been able to look at myself in the mirror, and not hate myself. I can actually compliment myself and say I’m on the right track. I, over the past year have lost 25lbs and almost 18 inches around my waist. The inches have made a huge difference. I changed my eating habits and exercise almost 4-5 days a week. I’m stuck at a plateau with the weight thing which is frustrating. I have my good days and my bad days that’s for sure. I can look at myself and say hey you look great and 10 minutes later call myself a fat cow and what is wrong with you.
I’m not huge, but I’m not skinny either. I can have people left and right tell me I look great and I’ll hear it but I don’t believe it. This is where I put the blame on media. The media puts emphasis on skinny girls, or the girls that have curves but a flat stomach as sexy. The tiny outfits, the little bikinis and all the skin that is shown. Guys love it and girls try or wish they were it. Not saying it isn’t reverse where the guys think they need to look like some model or actor because that’s what chicks want, it does happen. I just think it’s far more common and females are far more apt to change themselves because of what society is pushing on them. It makes me sad because everyone’s body is different and unique. I know this yet I still can’t comprehend that and apply it to myself.
Almost a year ago, Sports illustrated did a 2 or 3 cover feature for their swim suit issue. They had the usual skinny size 2 model. Nothing against her, I just personally could never look like her. My body just wasn’t made that way. They then put Ashley Graham on the other cover. She’s a 5’11, size 14 curvy female. She looked amazing. What I’d give to have my stomach look like hers. The thing I loved about it was that her body was so much more like mine. I looked at her and said now she’s something I could use as a goal and it’s not far-fetched or unachievable. I thought she looked more like the average woman and the media needed to present more women like her. You’d hear the mix reviews on what guys thoughts were on the two covers but mostly it was good. They liked the Ashley Graham cover.
I went out one night with a bunch of my friends, shortly after the swim suit issues came out. I was out with I think it was about 5 of my good guy friends and they of course got to talking about the SI issues. 3 of them said they preferred the Ashley Graham cover over the other one. The other two shocked me. I know it’s all personal preference and everyone is different on what they like, to each their own. I just kind of took what they were saying personally which I shouldn’t have and got so incredibly angry but hurt/sad at the same time. They said that the plus size girl was disgusting and needed to hit the gym and stop eating McDonald’s. One of the other guys said “You’re telling me if she was to walk in that door right now and hit on you or wanted to kiss you, you wouldn’t kiss her or be into it?” They both said hell no and just shook their heads with disgust. The tiny framed, no curves size 2 model was what they loved. My jaw dropped. I was in disbelief. You can like whatever you want to like, but it was so blatantly rude how they went off on the plus sized girl. I spoke up and said, “Maybe she does work out every day and hasn’t had McDonald’s or any fast food in a year. You don’t know anything about her or her struggles. Her stomach is flat. She’s got boobs and hips. She could sit there and starve herself and I bet you she may drop a couple of pants sizes but her skeleton won’t shrink. It’s how she’s built, her bones.” They all see me at the gym working hard on myself. I just couldn’t believe something so mean was coming from their mouths. I think my body type is very similar to this plus sized model who looked better than me. SO the attack on her I almost felt as an attack on me. I was so mad and sad that my close friends would say that about a girl. I left and never spoke of that again, but it still clearly bothers me. You can like whoever you want to like, humans come in all shapes and sizes but don’t criticize and ostracize someone because she’s not what society and media has taught you to lust for.
I think Sports Illustrated, putting a plus size model on their cover did something amazing. Made girls feel better about themselves because I know there are far more girls that are size 10,12,14,16 than a size 0 or 2. I’m hoping that the media sticks with more variety of body types, male and female. Make people realize it’s ok to like your body. It’s a horrible feeling when you hate looking at yourself in the mirror or could cry looking at your body. We need more body positive ads, icons etc. If we don’t and young girls keep growing up and feeling about themselves the way I do most of the time about myself, they’re in trouble. It’s no way to live your life, always putting yourself down and caring what people think of you when they see you. It holds you back in so many ways.