The number of advertisements that make us want to strip out of our skin and into something more slimming and youthful are more numerous than I would like to discuss. I’ve become wrapped up in the diet craze time and time again, though I’ve tried to mask it with words like “lifestyle change” or “getting healthy.”
I soaked up those weight loss commercials like a sponge, ready to fit in with the images on the television. I decided to really get serious about my weight after I got engaged, telling myself that I would FINALLY slim down to become the skinny woman I deserved to be.
But then I decided to stop buying into all that crap.
I had always been a supporter of the body positive movement… for everyone but myself. I wanted every single person to feel good about his or herself, but I still made faces at myself when I looked in the mirror.
I still signed up for Weight Watchers for months at a time, swearing to myself that this would be the day that I stuck to it to be another success story. But by turning away from the narrow-minded beauty standards constantly being reinforced in all avenues of the media, I’ve learned that I am a success story.
We applaud people for losing weight, for having the willpower and self-discipline to cut out some calories, but what about applauding people just for being people? For making it through the difficulties of every day, for overcoming crappy attitudes and remembering to smile?
Can’t we be proud of each and every one of ourselves for accomplishments that have little to do with how much we weigh? Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so.
Just recently, we learned about why the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch isn’t interested in making or marketing clothing for those of us with a little bit of fluff. But instead of focusing on that, I think we all ought to hear about the responses to his hateful comments.
All of the people writing blog posts in response to his comments are reminding everyone that just because you’re fat, doesn’t mean you’re subhuman. My favorite has been Amy Taylor’s open letter, where she lets him know that there’s not a single thing wrong with not being able to shop at A&F:
“…And while people like you are sitting at the cool kids table intent on holding others down, the ragtag team of not-so-cool kids is busy pulling others up… and we’ve become an unstoppable force driving the world forward.”
So yeah, it stinks when you’re surrounded with images of skinny-minis on TV, in magazines, and everywhere else in the world. But shouldn’t we focus on changing that, instead of worrying so much about changing our bodies?
How about we raise our own voices to make them louder than the negative, body-shaming voices that have been in charge for far too long? Let’s put body-lovin’ images in the forefront of our media so we can stop feeling bad about ourselves.
Hannah Seward is a graduate student from Maryland working on her Master’s in Sociology. She spends her days researching weight stigma, and her evenings cuddling with her catson. She wouldn’t have it any other way.