Do you struggle with body image issues? Have you ever looked in the mirror and kind of hated the reflection? (Yes, that’s me…in Dec. 2006.)
I think we’ve all felt that way at one time or another. We’ve all wished there were fewer lumps or bumps, a smoother tummy, smaller thighs, or even less common ‘flaws’ like a funny-shaped nose or weird eyebrows.
I’ve felt that way. Sometimes I sigh because I haven’t lost the baby weight. I frown at the tummy that didn’t use to be there so much. I feel frustrated over the pants that don’t fit right…or at all. Surely, surely I should just lose the weight. Then it would be better. Then I could look in the mirror without frustration. I would be happier.
Would I? Would you?
That number on the scale, or the number in the clothing, or on the tape measure…it bothers us. We feel that our physical appearance is somehow a reflection of who we are, of our worth as people. We feel bad when our weight or our general appearance doesn’t reflect who we want to be. We hate this reminder that somehow, we’re physically flawed. We stare at the models on TV and in magazines, and how tiny they are, how smooth and flawless their bodies are…and we feel bad.
It matters to us. A lot. It hurts when we weigh more than we used to. It hurts when other people stare or make snide comments about “fat people.” Sure, we’re all aware that obesity is a health risk – how could we not be? – but that’s personal. Health is between a person and their doctor (should they choose to have one), not them and all of society.
But we feel self-conscious anyway. We wish we could be thinner, taller, have bigger breasts or smaller hips…would we be happy if we did? Does our weight really reflect our worth?
The time when I feel most physically confident is when I am with my husband. I feel strong and I feel confident in my body. I know that he loves me and finds me attractive…as I am. And when he’s not feeling especially attracted to me, I know it is because of some emotional issue – we’ve had a fight, or haven’t talked enough recently. It has nothing to do with my body.
I feel confident. When I asked, seriously, if the fact that I haven’t lost the baby weight bothered him, he said honestly, “No. Why would it?” Oh. Right. He followed that with, “My body isn’t perfect either. It doesn’t matter.”
No, it doesn’t.
Our physical bodies do not need to appeal sexually to anyone but our spouses anyway. It does not matter if the rest of the world thinks that we are attractive. We are not trying to attract them! And to the person who matters most, attraction is largely based on the emotional connection, not the physical. A negative self-image and a poor attitude are very unattractive, while confidence and a positive self-image are very attractive. One’s actual size or weight is not relevant. A thin person who is unhappy and unconfident will appear less attractive than a heavier, happy person.
Does weighing less make you smarter? Kinder? Harder working? More knowledgeable? Better?
It seems like a ridiculous thing to ask. Nobody becomes a better (or worse) person because of the number on the scale. Why have we somehow bought this lie, that your weight determines your worth as a person?
There are many reasons that people gain or lose weight. Occasionally they are due to poor choices in health or diet. Sometimes they are due to metabolic syndromes, childbearing, or other factors that are more difficult to control. We somehow equate a thin person with success because they “take care of themselves,” as evidenced by their healthy physical appearance.
It’s a false equivalency. Some people are naturally thin but do not take care of themselves. Some people are heavy even though they are active and they eat well (there are plenty of people in the real food community who are wonderful, amazing people who eat well and are heavier – often times they are recovering from the years they didn’t know about real food, or they have autoimmune conditions that make weight loss more difficult). Some people don’t worry about their weight so much because they are so driven to succeed in other areas. There is no way to equate weight to personal worth.
You know what makes you worthy? Your attitude. The way you treat others. Your work ethic. Who you are.
A beautiful person is one who treats others kindly, loves others, serves others, works hard…. What that person weighs, what their physical appearance is, does not matter. You choose your worth every day when you choose how to interact with others.
We can care about weight. I still care. But I don’t equate it with my personal worth anymore. I plan to lose the baby weight because I think I will feel more energetic and I will be healthier. From a personal health perspective, it does matter.
But that’s my business. That’s not about anyone else. I’m not planning to change my weight so that I will be a better person. So that others will love me more or find me more attractive. Or so that I am perceived as smarter or harder working. It’s about my desire to be healthier.
There is a time and a place to talk about weight. But it isn’t through shaming. It isn’t through name-calling. It isn’t through implying or outright stating that people would be “better” if the number on the scale were different. Those things need to end, now. People who have struggled with their weight have enough trouble, given our culture, without people piling on.
Since when has shaming or ridiculing ever gotten anyone to change anything, anyway? Do we ridicule our children to teach them not to leave their shoes around? Do we ridicule students who fail math tests? Do we ridicule our friend who does not keep her home clean? Or…do we lovingly offer to help, offer consequences where needed (parent-child)?
You know what ridiculing others is? It’s bullying. Calling out another’s weight, making suggestions that they would be prettier, or smarter, or taken more seriously if they were thinner (or heavier, even, as very thin people aren’t exempt from weight judgment either) is bullying. Unhelpful, judgmental comments, even if meant well, are not okay.
Enough With Weight
I don’t care if you’re an adult who is a size 0, weighs 80 lbs. soaking wet, and cannot gain weight no matter what you do. I don’t care if you’re an adult who weighs 300 lbs. and can’t lose weight, no matter what you try.
These things don’t matter. You are not worthless as a person because of your physical appearance. It does.not.matter. You are beautiful the way you are. Be the best version of yourself, that is all you can do! Be happy, be confident, treat others well.
Your weight — and your health — is your business. No one else’s. We all need to quit allowing that number on the scale, or the size of the clothing to define us. We need to quit waiting to be happy, to eat a piece of candy, to buy a new dress until “the weight is gone.” We need to celebrate who we are…where we are. It’s your heart that really matters, not your body.
You’re beautiful the way you are.
Have you struggled with weight and body image issues?