We all have parts of ourselves that we don’t like. For instance, I have a little pooch that I hate. Like, I abhor it. Completely. Utterly. With every fiber of my being, I hate it. But other than that, I’m pretty OK with how I look. But, it took a lot of work to get to that point, that’s for sure.
Every time we turn on the TV, go online, or read a headline on a magazine cover, we’re bombarded with images of pretty celebrities — what we should “strive” to be. In order to achieve this look, we starve ourselves and go under the knife. We always see what we should be in order to be happy, but why can’t we see what we are?
I’ll admit it: I’m a curvy woman. It took me a long time to accept it and love it. I remember when I was in middle school, I was picked on a lot; almost every day on the school bus someone called me fat. It hurt. It still hurts thinking about it. It didn’t help that my family wasn’t too supportive either. I know they were (and are) looking out for my health and well-being, but it’s kind of hard to think that when your grandpa says, “That looks good on you Caity. It’d look even better if you lost twenty pounds.” I heard that when I was about 10. I remember running to my room crying because I felt bad about how I looked. I think that’s when I really knew I started to not like my appearance.
As recently as a couple years ago, I was shopping at Kohl’s (one of my favorite stores), and I was trying on a really cute dress. There I was, half-naked, trying to squeeze into an XL, and it wouldn’t go over my boobs. I lost it. I was sobbing because I thought I was terribly fat and nothing I did would change it. I thought I was a total failure. Looking back, I know I still have those feelings, but they’re not as prevalent now. Now I can focus on what I’m good at and what looks good on me.
It’s still hard sometimes, because I turn on the TV or look at my guilty-pleasure Cosmo and I see all these beautiful women in designer clothes looking perfect 24/7. Of course, I know it’s not real; I’ve seen too many episodes of ANTM to know that it takes a ton of work to look like that. But it’s still depressing to see that’s what men, and other women, want us to look like. Even though people say we don’t need to, deep down we all know that society wants us to look “pretty.”
So what’s the point of all this? If we all know that the media manipulates our self-image, what’s the point of talking about it again? We all need a reminder that this is a serious problem. We need to teach our little girls, and ourselves, that you can’t determine a person’s value based on their appearance. It doesn’t matter if a woman has an hourglass or rounded figure–she’s beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you can’t wear designer jeans, because you can still rock your clothes. What matters is what you think about yourself. If you’re happy with how you look and feel, then you’re set.
I don’t hate my pooch because someone else tells me to. I don’t hate it because other people might think it’s “ugly.” I hate it because I can’t wear the certain pair of skinny jeans that I’ve been eying. But I don’t need a pair of pants or some media conglomerate to tell me I’m pretty. I’m sexy and I know it.