I want to start this week by thanking everyone that has commented and responded to these posts (first week, second week). Your thoughts have been honest and reflective and supportive and lovely and just plain awesome. I am so grateful to each of you. We’re in this together, sisters! And it is heartwarming and inspiring to be reminded that we are all fighting this body/beauty battle together. And to know that we are not alone in whatever struggles or uncertainties or doubts we may confront when it comes to our own self-image.
With that being said, I want to talk about one of my biggest gripes when it comes to how we speak to other women.
Why is it that when someone tells someone else, “Hey, you’ve lost weight!” the response is “Yes, thank you”? Why is weight loss considered a compliment? And further, why do we feel that it is appropriate in any capacity to comment on someone else’s body shape or size in the first place?
I remember a very well-meaning friend commenting on how slim I was looking last summer and congratulating me on this thinness. Again, as though thinness was A. worthy of congratulations and compliment and B. as though I was actively striving for that thinness and thus approval. To be honest, I’d lost weight because of all the anxiety I was experiencing in the wake of my mother’s medical emergency; an event so traumatic that I was not sleeping, not eating, and stewing in nerves and fear. So um, not exactly a welcome weight-loss or a sign of health. In fact, a sign of just the opposite.
We don’t know the cause for someone’s change in size, and by commenting on it, we are further reinforcing this notion that beauty is directly tied to slimness (regardless of whether or not that size is attained in a healthful manner. Trust me, I’d need to exist on a 800 calorie diet to be a size 4, and that shit is straight up starvation.) Size does NOT equal health. Further, size does not equal beauty. And by commenting and complimenting women so frequently on their bodies and their size, we are further enforcing the idea that a woman’s worth is defined by physicality and adherence to specific cultural beauty standards rather than who she is as a person, a whole complete being with thoughts and emotions and a unique body and life story.
If you haven’t read this article that I shared earlier this week, please please do so now as it approaches this issue even more thoughtfully, specifically related to women’s bodies post-partum: Babies Don’t ‘Ruin’ Bodies.
And while I stand by my love of Miraclesuit, I can’t in good conscience ignore their tagline “Look 10 lbs Lighter in 10 Seconds.” While I understand from a marketing perspective (as sadly women will gravitate to businesses claiming thinness as that is the ever-constant demand), it further reinforces the very issues I discuss above. Why is it that women should want to look 10 lbs lighter in 10 seconds? Why is less weight so desirable? As women, we are perpetually told to take up as little space as possible, to be as small and non-threatening and thin as possible in order to be valued and beautiful. I am calling B.S. on that noise.
I love Miraclesuit not because it makes me look “slimmer” but because it is constructed thoughtfully, with a woman’s curves and need for support in mind. While I wish they didn’t use a tagline about weight as their primary focus, I fell in love with the suits before I’d ever read the tagline, by trying on dozens of bathingsuits and physically feeling the difference that Miraclesuit made when on my body.
The suit I’m pictured in this week, the Colorblock Jerry, has a built in underwire to provide much needed support but is layered under stylish draping that provides interest and movement. I wear it lazily around the house for hot afternoons spent playing with my girls, working in the garden, and enjoying a summer evening.
Because at the end of the day, I want to feel confident and comfortable in a bathing suit, and I especially want my daughters to feel that ease and comfort radiating from me so that they learn to celebrate their own unique-selves in whatever way makes them feel most at ease and comfortable.
Let’s all be kinder and gentler not only to ourselves, but to the women around us. Be mindful when you find yourself about to comment on someone’s body or size. Why are you inclined to make that comment? What does it accomplish? And is there something more meaningful or more valuable that you could offer than just a throwaway remark about their physical self. And especially be careful of critiquing or judging another woman’s body (other people period, but specifically their physical bodies) as you’re likely reinforcing very problematic, narrow expectations of beauty and health by doing so.
The greatest compliment I’ve ever received had nothing to do with my physical appearance, but had to do with the way my then-boss saw me inspiring and empowering my female students. His words, “You’re a role model for these women. Your mother should be very proud,” linger in my head today as raise two daughters and navigate these expectations, demands and pressures. Why not empower another woman by championing her smarts, her wit, her thoughtfulness rather than the size of her pants? It could start a revolution of confident, strong women… you never know…
This is your final opportunity to win a Miraclesuit or Magicsuit of your choosing. That’s a winning of up to $180! To enter this week’s giveaway follow the instructions below via Rafflecopter. Thank you for entering and for liking Blog a la Cart and Magicsuit on Facebook and for following @blogalacart and @magicsuitswim on Instagram.
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