06
Nov
11

so what’s up with that?

I spent much of Saturday with a group of young singers (freshman and sophomore college students, although some in their 20s), and found myself involved in many “female” type conversations. Principally: body, self-image, weight, appearance, etc. Guess this is a normal part of hanging out with singers, the more narcissistic of the instrumental sub-species, and especially since most of them were women.

Anyway — one of the young women was talking about how she had really worked out like a maniac for a while, and at one point had gotten down to a size 4 (four!!!) and still felt like that wasn’t thin enough, and then that kind of scared her so she chilled out a little.

I thought that was pretty self-aware of her, and congratulated her for that.

Then she said that she really felt like she couldn’t consider herself “thin” until her stomach was completely flat, but no matter how much she exercised or how little she ate, her stomach always “stuck out” a little.

And I said, (in a sage-like voice), well, you’re a woman, your stomach is supposed to stick out.

And I believed it.

Sort of.

And then. . .

A woman, a complete stranger, struck up a long and rambling conversation with me today at Only Daughter’s First Gymnastics Meet Ever (FGME), and I couldn’t help but notice that she was rather can-shaped and still had her sweater tucked into her jeans.

And my thoughts alternated between “why won’t she stop talking to me” and “I wish I could just introduce myself and ask her her name and maybe know one other person in this building besides my daughter and my former husband” and “it’s so great that she’s so comfortable with herself even though she looks like a can” and “how can I be such a b#!% about what shape she is it’s not like we’re in high school anymore couldweallpleasestopjudgingeachotherthankyouverymuch” and “I really wish I was one of those women who felt sexy and strong and powerful just because I’m a woman and sexy and strong and powerful.”

So now, at the end of a long day, a day during which I ate only good and healthful foods, I am arguing with myself mentally over whether I should open that bag of Cape Cod reduced fat jalapeno potato chips®, or not. Well, that’s not actually true, I know that I very much should NOT. But I really want to.

I think I just spend too much of my life like this:

Sigh.

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3 Responses to “so what’s up with that?”


  1. November 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Do you really, honestly, know ANY women who feel this way: “I really wish I was one of those women who felt sexy and strong and powerful just because I’m a woman and sexy and strong and powerful.”

    I don’t. Not personally. I mean, maybe some woman in the media says this and sounds convincing, but I’ll just bet in private she feels just as insecure as every other woman. It’s terrible, I know, and I wish we could all accept our bodies as-is, but with the insane pressure on women from every angle to “be thin”, to have a perfect, ideal body, to look young, etc., it seems to me to be almost impossible to be happy with the body we each have. I think I was happier with my body when I was younger, to tell the truth. But that was during the 70’s and I think the mass media messages have gotten worse and more subversive since then and I often wonder how one raises a young girl these days not to be completely paranoid and obsessed about her body.

    I’ve gradually gained a lot of weight over the years and realize that if only people had said, back when I was in my 20’s and just beginning to gain weight (from my very thin adolescent years) how wonderful and womanly I looked, instead of, “Oh, you’re so pretty. You’d be perfect if you lost 10 pounds.” Yes, people said that. And so no matter how much I weighed (and when 10 lbs. was not all that I needed to lose to look thin) I felt it was too much, and because I never had felt like I looked “ideal”, I gained and gained and gained. I tried to be a feminist and said to myself it doesn’t matter what I look like, it matters what’s inside, and I presented a pretty strong face to the world, but inside I just felt fat and not okay with my body.

    So I don’t know what to do or say about this issue, other than it’s gotten so far out of control and so many women and girls are dysfunctional about their body images, and it’s gotten worse in my lifetime, not better. I wish we could all wake up and look at ourselves and say, “I’m beautiful just the way I am”, but I wonder whether that will ever happen for women? Not as long as we are still judged primarily on our looks, that’s for sure.

    • November 10, 2011 at 8:29 am

      “Do you really, honestly, know ANY women who feel this way: “I really wish I was one of those women who felt sexy and strong and powerful just because I’m a woman and sexy and strong and powerful.””

      Some days, I do feel that way. I can’t seem to hold on to it for very long, but it comes and goes.

      The weight messages are disturbing. And the weights of the women who are “models” for us are disturbing. I posted a picture on pinterest of a little girl on a scale with a quote by JKRowling. And every time I read it, I think, “Exactly!” Check it out, if you’d like: http://pinterest.com/pin/342109114/

      I’ve decided to eat as healthfully as I can, and exercise as often as I can, and not to deny myself a small hot fudge sundae or a glass of VSOP cognac on a chilly night, because living is more important that what you weigh.

      • November 10, 2011 at 11:58 pm

        I agree with you and I’m glad you feel that way sometimes. I used to, but not so much any more. I completely agree living is more important than what you weigh.

        I looked at the picture and couldn’t agree more with J.K. Rowling. You go, girl!


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