A positive body image is something all females want to achieve. Or is being skinny really what females want to achieve? For as long as I can remember, I have been confused about if my desire to be thin is healthy or harmful. Is it healthy because I choose to eat salad all the time when I’d LOVE pizza? Is it harmful because I look in the mirror and think I’m fat? It’s summertime and those unhealthy thoughts run rampant.
I think my problem with body image was created in my teens, as most body image issues are. I read all the magazines girls love to read, portraying actresses and models and how they got their beach body. “Here are 10 steps to getting a great body.” Lie. “(Insert name here) worked really hard to get those abs of steel.” Not completely truthful. “Top beach looks to get that guy you want.” Ridiculous.
All of my life, I have been extremely active. In grade school and the beginning of high school, I played sports, I ran races, and I never felt bad about my body. That was the life. For more than 10 years, I have been up and down on the scale, cried that nothing fits me right, and tried countless “diets.” And I have to admit, at 28 years old…I’m not sure I’ll ever fully “love” my body. Is that something that’s even achievable?
I feel bad for my boyfriend sometimes. He can never say the right thing when I ask how I look. He does know how to make me feel good. But I’m sorry to say, that will never be enough. At this age, my mind is already warped by what I’ve seen on TV, in magazines, and ESPECIALLY how clothes are made to fit. I can no longer shop at certain stores because I do not have the body type that represents the clothes they sell for thin young girls. Sure, I can go for a larger size. That only makes you feel worse because those clothes weren’t designed for larger sizes. And before you know it, you find yourself in the fitting room wondering where you went wrong. You come out upset and your boyfriend asks why you never come out in the clothes so he can see and tell you how good you look. You leave the store with nothing but a lower self-esteem.
I’m not a big girl. I weigh about 140 lbs. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Why do I feel like I am? When my schedule freed up after practicum, I finally had time to work out. I had a pretty rough and stressful winter and did not care much about my health. I ate and drank whatever I wanted making excuses like “I’m stressed, I need this.” It may have felt good at the time but it sure doesn’t feel good now. It’s been two months of working out 6 days a week, most weeks. I am not nearly the size I thought I’d be. And it’s not just losing lbs. I want to look tone. I want to feel comfortable in shorts. That’s all. So, in that sense, that’s not unachievable and unhealthy. It can be when you obsess over it like I do.
And I’m not alone.
The “thigh gap” controversy in a Target bathing suit ad is the root of the problem, I think. Girls are shown that this is what you should look like. This is how you will fit in the clothes you want to wear. It’s demeaning and it’s dangerous. I will never have the thigh gap. I’m OK with that. I am making progress on feeling good and healthy about my body. But it’s an uphill battle as I’m sure it is for many females.
I recently went into a clothing store and noticed that many of the tops are short, the crop top look. It’s cute if you can pull it off. Maybe the look is to have your stomach showing, I don’t know. And there is nothing wrong with wearing this style, but many girls don’t want to expose their belly. What options do they have? I’m one of those girls. I just don’t fit the body profile of high-waisted jeans and short tops. Why is it all I see in stores?
I guess I’m just tired of being shown what I should look like, sold clothes that weren’t made for my body, and feeling bad that I’m not a size 2.
I’ve had it.
My mission for myself is to be as healthy as possible, physically and mentally. I am going to continue working out daily because it makes me feel good and NOT because I’m trying to reach a certain weight.
I shouldn’t feel bad about myself after leaving a fitting room. No one should.