Sunday, October 21, 2012
This Is My Body, Deal With It
Have you ever had those days where you feel like something's changed about yourself? There's that subtle little difference. Something that used to really bother you suddenly isn't such a big deal. That person you couldn't stand suddenly isn't quite as bad as you thought. Yesterday was my day for that change. It wasn't big and flashy, it was just a moment of, you know what, who cares!
Let me explain a bit more. It was pretty simple. I was making homemade macaroni and cheese and discovered that we were basically out of milk which is a fairly key ingredient to making macaroni and cheese. At that point I had a choice: I could run to the store and pick up some milk or I could abandon my cooking endeavors. For most people it'd be a fairly simple choice to simply run over to the store, grab a gallon of milk and run home. For me? Well, not so much. Here's the thing, I don't go anywhere, and I do mean anywhere, without my hair or makeup done. So to make a simple five minute run to the store for milk, it typically takes me at least thirty minutes to get ready because I have to get a shower, do my hair and makeup, and find something reasonably attractive to wear. Yeah, pretty sad and pathetic, but true.
So what made the difference last night? Honestly, I think it was another girl who I have never met and know very little about. I saw her picture on Friday night as I was browsing through my news feed on Facebook. It was definitely a picture that would catch most people's attention. It was a black and white photo of a girl posing in her bra and underwear. Now before you start thinking I'm a pervert or a creep or anything, what really caught my attention was that this girl was not skinny. She was big, not as big as me, but definitely a good-sized girl. What caught my attention next was the note next to the picture:
"WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE. Meaning the choices I make about it, are none of your fucking business. Meaning my size, IS NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
If my big belly and fat arms and stretch marks and thick thighs offend you, then that’s okay. I’m not going to hide my body and my being to benefit your delicate sensitivities.
This picture is for the strange man at my nanny’s church who told me my belly was too big when I was five.
This picture is for my horseback riding trainer telling me I was too fat when I was nine.
This picture is for the girl from summer camp who told me I’d be really pretty if I just lost a few pounds.
This picture is for all the fucking stupid advertising agents who are selling us cream to get rid of our stretch marks, a perfectly normal thing most people have (I got mine during puberty).
This picture is for the boy at the party who told me I looked like a beached whale.
This picture is for Emily from middle school, who bullied me incessantly, made mocking videos about me, sent me nasty emails, and called me “lard”. She made me feel like I didn’t deserve to exist. Just because I happened to be bigger than her. I was 12. And she continued to bully me via social media into high school.
MOST OF ALL, this picture is for me. For the girl who hated her body so much she took extreme measures to try to change it. Who cried for hours over the fact she would never be thin. Who was teased and tormented and hurt just for being who she was.
I’m so over that.
THIS IS MY BODY, DEAL WITH IT."
The picture had gotten my attention, but her words were what really captured me because I could totally see myself in what she said: the being made fun of, the hurtful words, the cruel jokes, over half of what she wrote I could directly apply to my life, just with different people and circumstances. And I couldn't help but admire her, for doing what I never could in being proud of her body and telling people she didn't care whether or not they liked it. And the picture, something that I could never do in a million years. Me, who refuses to wear shorts because of how fat I think my thighs are or tank tops because I hate how my arms look. Me, who wears high heels even though they destroy my feet just so my legs look that little bit thinner and longer. Me, who wears three to four layers of shapewear to look an inch or two thinner. I could never do what she did, because like her, when she first got the massive response to the blog and picture, I would struggle to focus on any reaction that wasn't negative. But she looked at the positive side and what she did helped me, it gave me that push out the door.
So when I realized that we were out of milk, I went to the store. And for the first time in who knows how many years, I didn't go take a shower, I didn't put on any makeup and I didn't do anything with my hair. I left my unwashed hair in its messy ponytail, I threw on a sweatshirt simply for modesty, and I walked out the door and drove to the grocery store in my hot pink sweatpants and my flips flops. And, yeah, I got a few looks from people who gave me a once over and just kind of shook their heads and walked away. I had a guy most young women would consider hot give me a look of disgust. And for the first time, I didn't care. I didn't want to go run and hide in a corner. I didn't go home and binge and eat everything in sight or buy out the store for that matter. I didn't lament that the hot guy I honestly would have no interest in anyway clearly thought I was hideous. I just got the milk and went home. And it felt good.
Maybe some of you think this was a really long explanation for something pretty simple. But you know, when Stella posted that picture and those words on her blog, she never expected that when they were published by a journalist she happened to meet that they would go viral. But they did, and they're already making and impact. Is my blog likely to have the same thing happen? No, but if it help one person, then that's making a difference.
So for all you people who ever looked at me and thought I was fat and ugly, for all you people who have ever made fun of me for not being skinny, for all you people who made me feel worthless, for all you people who thought it was fun to torment me, guess what? This is MY body, deal with it!