The real reason society has a body image problem.

by Melissa on December 10, 2013

I’ve taken a long break from blogging, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been trying to keep up with the goings on around here. I’ve been debating writing about this, as it’s been beaten to death recently, but because it has so much to do with my own self reflections for the year, I thought what the hell? Let’s talk about it.

Maria Kang and Caroline Berg Eriksen. I’m sure 99% of you reading this have heard of them, because both ladies are currently under fire right now for falling under the lovely category of “who will we blame for societal body image issues next?”

Your self worth

Presently, we live in a very image-centric world. Perfection is the ultimate goal for so many people, and yet, no one can seem to really pinpoint what “perfection” really is! We all seem to be working toward it, but if we look closely, we all have a really different idea of what perfection really is, yes? This is exactly why it baffles me that we have such a huge problem here! For instance, perfect, in terms of my body, to my husband is far different from mine. Shoot, my own idea of my perfect body varies day to day depending on my raging hormones or on a successful run. I don’t, however, find myself placing photos all over my house of a particular body shape because it’s “perfect”. I don’t go browsing the web in search of images of someone else with a body shape I consider to be my ultimate goal. So this brings me to the question, when did we start forgetting that “perfection” is about perspective?? It’s not about a particular person or industry setting a standard for us. It’s not about people in the fitness industry telling us that “strong is the new sexy” or about the fashion industry indirectly telling us to become the next Victoria’s Secret models by manipulating clothing sizes. One minute we’re starving to look like twiggy runway models and the next we’re scrambling to look like figure competitors. I remember when fitspiration was something that inspired you to become fitter…not something that made you feel as though you had fit into a cookie-cutter mold of what someone else thought made you a “doable”.

Am I wrong for thinking that body shape idealism is wrong and should not be on rotation like trends in fashion or fitness??

You are not a pair of pants

World changing words right there, yes? ;)

But seriously…we’re talking about our bodies here, people!!! Physical, living, breathing, fragile biological masterpieces here. Not a pair of shiny gold harem pants that will be out next season. Not a drawing board for the ways to market our next exercise or diet regimens. Our bodies, despite what some people think, can be destroyed by this behavior. When will we start getting the picture??

THE HUMAN BODY IS NOT ONE SIZE FITS ALL.

Nor is life.

Maria Kang, Caroline Berg Eriksen, you, me…how many of us have the same body frame? How many of us have have given birth? How many of us have not? How many of us have had the same experiences? Same jobs? Same goals? Same setbacks? Same schedules? Same abilities? Same amount of time? Same priorities? Same genetics? Same tastes? Same of anything??

None of us.

We’re all fighting over who embodies the “real body“. So when did it become okay to shame anyone?? Skinny, fat, tall, short, slow, fast…I’m tired of people hiding behind computer screens, with their electronically-enhanced “courage” (if that’s the word for it…I find it quite cowardly actually), throwing caution – and compassion and humility – to the wind, and completely destroying people they don’t even know. When did it become okay to abuse “freedom of speech” (my favorite excuse) and just say whatever we want to anyone, not giving two shits about what our words do to others? “You’re too slow to call that running”…”you’re a self-centered skinny little bitch”…”you’re a fat stay at home mother, like I’d want to be like you”…”you’re the reason so many women hate themselves”…(I’ve heard and seen all of the above and worse).

News flash!!!! Our words do far more damage to others than a photo of a naturally tiny woman in her underwear.

I will never look like either of these two women. Why? Because I am not either of those two women. I could work my butt off, literally, until every ounce of energy has been drained from my body, and I would never look like them. If the general public would take two seconds to look back on Eriksen’s Instagram feed, they’d see that girlfriend barely showed at the end of her pregnancy. That is why she looks the way she does in her postpartum photo. Stop comparing yourself to her!! You’re looking at Caroline Berg Eriksen’s genetics + hard work. Maria Kang looks the way she does because…you guessed it, Maria Kang’s genetics + hard work. Hard work + my genetics? Doesn’t look like either of them. So just because they’ve posted photos of themselves on the internet, I’m not over here ridiculing myself for not looking like them.

What bothers me more than this is that people just…don’t get it. People continue to ridicule and judge, and it’s really pissing me off.

Let’s use obesity as an example. No. I don’t think obesity is okay. At all. It’s unhealthy and can, in most cases, be prevented and is completely treatable with sound nutritional therapy and exercise. When I’ve gained weight, I know exactly why, and I address it. It’s no one else’s fault but my own. In other medical cases, some aren’t as lucky – sometimes it’s just medically out of someone’s control. Guess what, though? I don’t find obese people appalling. I don’t find them disgusting and nor do I find them any less worthy of the great joys in life than anyone else. What I do think is disgusting is the way people treat them. Sure, obesity can hinder their abilities to perform specific job duties, but does that mean it’s okay to go out of our way to belittle them? Does their ability to move as agilely as you or me make them worthless? NO! Does that mean it’s okay to throw a photo of your “hot body” in front of them and tell them that there are no excuses as to why they can’t look like you? No, it doesn’t. Another approach to get them off the couch would probably help more so than breaking them down, yes? (And no, I’m not talking coddling.) The same goes with anyone else! Instead of approaching health issues of any kind with body shaming, name calling, body comparison, and down right hatefulness, why don’t we start lifting others up and helping them see the real problem and how to fix it?

The goal in this industry (or in life) shouldn’t be about whether or not other people can feast their eyes on a “piece of fine ass”…it should be about a person’s well-being and quality of life.

It’s time we start focusing on health and not aesthetics. It’s time we start addressing this “you’re here to please me” issue we seem to be having. That’s the real problem we have here. It’s time people start getting out from behind their protective little computer screen barricades and shut-the-eff-up. Something’s got to change.

Life isn’t one size fits all, and if it were? Man…there sure would be a lot of people getting a good, hefty dose of humility right about now, don’t you think?

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