"WHY is my nose so huge?"
"If I wasn't so lazy, I would go run a couple of miles."
"I have no willpower....why did I eat those cookies??"
"My hair looks horrible."
"I wish my boobs were bigger."
"I am so ugly!"
And on. And on. Ad nauseum.
I think women are much more derogatory about ourselves than men. According to a Glamour magazine survey, females of all shapes and sizes have an average of 13 negative body thoughts a day. That's practically one for every waking hour! And even more terrible is that some women tell themselves negative statements 30, 50 or 100 times a day. But most horrific is the fact that approximately 7 million women have eating disorders, and anorexia has the highest death rate of any psychiatric illness, including depression. The mortality rate of anorexia is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of deaths for females ages 15-24.
Tragic. All those beautiful young women, dead.
What is causing this destructive behavior? Some ideas tossed about are society's emphasis on thinness as equating beauty, pathological dieting, the affordability and accessibility of plastic surgery and the types of reality shows that teens are watching, to name a few. But for me, the WHY isn't as important as the WHAT. What can we do to combat this?
I am sick of fashion magazines' ideas of what is attractive. I am sick of models being so tiny that perfectly gorgeous women hate their bodies. And I am sick to death of anorexia and bulimia killing my sisters. I say we start a revolution.
Let's make our voices heard. Write the publishers and editors of offending magazines and tell them they need to change or we will not spend one more dime on their publications. We want to see real women in these magazines. Write to the advertisers and tell them that we won't buy their products unless they pull out and advertise elsewhere. And let's stick to our principles. Say it, mean it, do it. Money talks, and when women band together and say, "We're not gonna spend it anymore!" then -- and only then -- are we going to see results.
Next, raise our daughters to know that they are beautiful. They are strong. They are intelligent. They are talented. They are not a number on the scale. Beauty is not in how they look, but in who they are. They are beautiful merely because they exist. Goodness, kindness, intelligence, wit -- all of these characteristics make up their exquisite beauty.
Let's practice random acts of beauty. Reach out to other women and let them know they are beautiful too. When you see someone working out at the gym, tell her what a great job she is doing and how she is inspiring you. When you are running, and you pass someone who's struggling, give her an encouraging word. Hand out random compliments to women you see throughout the day. Tell women they are beautiful every chance you get. Let's stop the gossiping, the comparisons, the reviews. Let's be kind.
Look in the mirror -- literally. I have heard of mirror fasts and while I understand the intent, I personally feel we should embrace, not avoid, what we see. WE ARE, EACH ONE OF US, BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING WOMEN. Look at yourself. Really look. You are beautiful. Let that thought, that realization, soak into your bones. Yes, we all have flaws -- we are human!! Who cares if my teeth are a little crooked, my hair is curling in a crazy way today, I've got a little pooch from giving birth to four children, I gained a new wrinkle on my forehead? Is this the end of the world? Nahhh. Maybe it's me, but I have a lot more to think about, and neurotically obsess over, than waste my energy on things I can't change. Yes, I do what I can do with what I have to work with. Yup, I dye my hair. I wear makeup. I've had plastic surgery on my eyelids, because I was having to flap them back just to see. Nope, didn't go for the breast augmentation when I was young, even though I probably am the most flat-chested woman on earth. I'm never going to win a beauty pageant -- and maybe it is because I am getting older -- but things like that seem so meaningless to me. Give me a crown because my eyes are blue? No, give me a crown because I am a pretty compassionate human being. Or that I wrote a beautiful poem, painted a masterpiece, composed a song that inspired someone. I discovered the cure for cancer or created sustainable energy. But because I have bleached hair and fake breasts?
Let's stop the endless scrutiny of each part of our bodies -- the rolls, the flabby arms, the stretch marks, the cellulite, the back fat. When did we begin thinking these were something to be ashamed of? I can guarantee my grandmother, who lived to be 100, never obsessed over what her elbows looked like or if her neck was sagging a little. What has happened to us? People age. Our bodies change. It's life. And it can actually be freeing when we realize that WE DON'T HAVE TO CARE ABOUT THIS. The media say we have to worry about our looks. The media also have given us Honey Boo Boo, Bridalplasty, the Kardashians, Snooki, and Toddlers in Tiaras. By all that is holy, do we really think they know what is best for us??? While I do admire beautiful women for the gift of their good looks, I'm not willing to starve, over-exercise, inject, or chop up my body to make it fit someone else's idea of what beauty is.
My wish is that women STOP swallowing the lies the media are telling us. We need to reject the idea that these invasive and risky procedures are the answer to our problems. My hope is that not one more woman feels pressure to alter her own beautiful nature to conform to society's skewed view of what's attractive. Too many are dying each day for us to believe that beauty is the most important trait we should all be pursuing. To me, THAT is the filthiest thing we're telling ourselves.