Ready? Good. Let’s continue.
I’ll be honest. I’ve known since I was in late high school/early college that stars are photoshopped and airbrushed and all that jazz. I’ve known. I found it irritating. But really, there was nothing I could do about it and I thought it really doesn’t affect me. I, personally, would never feel the need to compare myself to these glossy photos that have absolutely no bearing on reality. Not ever. I knew better.
Only I did it anyway. You see, I was the fat sister. I wasn’t obese, but I was most definitely on the chunkier side. There were a few family members that, especially when they were angry with me, loved to remind me that I wasn’t, shall we say, appropriately sized? [I think it’s important to note here that all involved grew into perfectly lovely people and, well, kids can be cruel.] At school, the teasing was relentless. There were specific phrases used in my direction that I still carry with me to this day, even though I know it meant nothing. However, it is kind of hard to not carry some scars when you felt so belittled that you took it as a compliment when someone called you “she” instead of “it.”
You know what the hilarious thing about it all is? I wasn’t even that unattractive of a child. I wasn’t even that heavy. A bit overweight? Yes, by a few pounds. Unhealthy? Nope. In fact, at one point I hit a growth spurt and shot straight up and got tall and thin. So why all the teasing? To put it simply, I was easy. After the growth spurt, the belittling continued. I put all that weight back on without realizing it had come off. The only reason I even knew it happened is the photos I saw of myself years later.
So here I am. An adult. I’m slightly over the healthy weight line. By like…10 pounds, I think. I’ve been trying to lose that 10 or 15 pounds for years. I eat right. I exercise. That’s not just lip service. It’s true. Those last few pounds to get back into the healthy weight range are just all sorts of stubborn. However, I’ve made peace with myself. I’m still trying to get those last pounds off, but that’s for health. Ok, a little for vanity. Shut up. Don’t judge me.
But I’m not here to talk about that. I just get sidetracked. What I want to talk about is body image issues and photoshopping. I will never be what the media thinks of as beautiful. I also don’t particularly care. Consciously, I knew no one is as beautiful as they are in the magazines, not even the models themselves. Their images are drastically altered, turning people of perfectly healthy, and even super skinny weights, into skeletons. And I understand wanting to airbrush out a pimple or scratch, as those are fading things, but removing moles and freckles? Those are part of you are.
Do you understand what I’m saying here? Even the people hailed as the most beautiful people in the world are still not beautiful enough. If that’s true, then what hope do I have? Or you? Or anyone?
The most disturbing thing about these images is that they just get into your head. Like I’ve said at least twice now, I know better. I know those photos are, for a lack of a better word, fake. And yet, sometimes I glance at those magazine covers as I’m checking out in the grocery store with a cart of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and good meats, and think to myself, “I wish my hair was full like that. My hair is so thin.” Or, “If only my belly was that flat. If only my thighs were that smooth. If only my face was thinner.” And that’s really what pisses me off about the whole thing. It’s this nonsense. Being educated and aware and still not being able to escape the inadequacy.
But you know what? When Husband walks through the room and pokes me in the belly, it’s a sign of affection. He’s being playful and spirited, not calling attention to the fact that my belly should be smaller. When he plays with my hair, he’s not thinking that he wishes it was curlier or fuller. And when we finally crawl into bed at the end of the day, he’s not wishing for that woman on the magazine cover. He wants me. Just me. So you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to keep reminding myself that I’m perfectly fine. That I’m loved and love others. That I can’t measure up to people that don’t exist. Period.