human, being

Body wars
May 6, 2009, 11:04 am
Filed under: body image | Tags: , , , ,

Pay attention to how the American culture has the majority of its female inhabitants so wrapped up in how we look physically that we’re too distracted to use our powerful minds and imaginations to their fullest.

Listen around for just a day, and note how many times you hear another woman say something about:

  • Avoiding a certain food because she is watching her weight
  • She’ll indulge “just this once” in a treat, implying a great deal of guilt
  • Another woman’s looks or body in an appraising way
  • Working out, not working out, needing to work out but not having time or energy, all dredged in a stew of guilt
  • Dieting, doing a cleanse or something else “faddish” to lose weight
  • Criticizing a part of her body

Then, make note of how many times in a day you think about or talk about these same things.

It’s a lot, huh? Hours even.

Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with the idea that we are too fat, imperfect, wrong the way we are.

We’ve all read the headlines: Being at a healthy weight–under 30% body fat by some measures–is critical to a woman’s health. Extra body fat means extra estrogen, which means much higher ovarian and breast cancer risk. Extra weight around the middle corresponds to high blood pressure, diabetes and poor heart and circulatory health. Too much body fat can also correlate to low self esteem, depression and anxiety.

I’m all for being healthy, for having a happier, longer life. But that’s not the main message.

The main message we women now are bombarded with every day of our American lives is that not being ripped and having more than 15% body fat means you are:

  • bad
  • lazy
  • undisciplined
  • unhealthy
  • ugly
  • not sexy or desirable
  • worthless, or at least not as valuable

Think I’m wrong? Tell me what you said to yourself the last time you stood in front of a mirror naked and scrutinized your body–like, this morning. If at least one of those words in the bullets didn’t cross your mind or your lips, congratulations. I want to be like you.

I feel that most women are at war with their bodies. I know I am. We hate the fact that we can’t live up to the airbrushed ideal, that our post-childbirth stomachs aren’t flat, that our asses aren’t round and high, that our boobs droop the longer gravity’s been at them.

We attack our bodies with plastic surgery, lasers, fad diets, weird cleanses (hot water, cayenne and honey, anyone?).

We attack our self worth with our words and thoughts.

Why do we do this? Why can’t we just accept our bodies as they are?

I have several friends who are in that 15% body fat, totally ripped class of women. Once, my friend N pinched a half-inch of skin and said she was too fat. She is 5-10 and weighs maybe 125 lbs. Another friend obsessively does Pilates and runs. Yes she has a 6-pack, but to what end? She still looks in the mirror in the morning and sees only her flaws.

It’s ridiculous. Body hatred should be an official mental health disease. Pfizer should be working on a drug to quell the symptoms–they’d make a windfall!

I know that picking on myself doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t serve my 8-year-old daughter. It takes energy away from things that do serve me. But I don’t know how to leave the battlefield.


3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

But what if we are too fat?

Comment by Run Like Elle

@ Run Like Elle

What’s too fat? What’s the measure? And if your body fat is unhealthy, does that mean you’re a bad person, unworthy of being loved, stupid?

My point is that there is a difference between being healthy so you have a long, disease-free life and obsessing about our bodies –hating them — because our culture tells us we should.

Comment by humanbeingblog

interesting comment… i’d have to agree fully. looks like you checked out my blog 😉 the more people we have trying to raise consciousness about this issue the better! awesome. although. this isn’t just a womens issue. it affects all genders. thanks for your words.

Comment by abodyrevolution

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