If We Know People Are Beautiful At Every Size, Why Are We Still So Hard On Ourselves?

Beauty isn't based on size or weight.

Beauty isn’t based on size or weight.

I think we can all agree that this past year, when it came to body acceptance, was amazing. We had Wisconsin news anchor Jennifer Livingston calling out her hater on live television for criticizing her weight, and daring to say she’s “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.” Eloquently, Livingston fought back with words that came straight from the heart, stemming from hurt, but put on a brave face to defend herself, defend people everywhere against the bullying of fat-shaming.

Not long after that incident, there was the “fat” blogger Stella Boonshoft who so brazenly posted a photo on her blog, The Body Love Blog, of her body – stretch marks and all – that went viral and made her a voice for body acceptance.

And, of course, we have Lena Dunham who takes off her clothes all the time in Girls and said, regarding her thighs:

“If Olivia Wilde had gone to a party in … little shorts, she might have been on a ‘weird dressed list’ or been told her outfit was cute. I don’t think a girl with tiny thighs would have received such no-pants attention. I think what it really was … ‘Why did you all make us look at your thighs?’ My response is, get used to it because I am going to live to be 100, and I am going to show my thighs every day till I die.”

Although these particular women really helped others in socially accepting all the shapes and sizes of all people, we still have a long way to go. We still need to turn that acceptance around and make it real for ourselves.

We live in a society that still turns their noses up at those who do not fit into the physical ideals that have been prescribed to us by both fashion and the standards of other people. We live in a world where “fat-shaming,” despite progress in body acceptance, is a real thing.

I know that whenever someone wants to insult me or I’m witnessing an insult happening, whether it be coming from a man or woman, if the insult is being thrown in the direction of a woman, “fat” is, nine times out of ten, on the list of things people say when they really want to hurt someone. “Fat,” just like “ugly” digs a deep hole and is literally scarring on both our brains and bodies; it has an effect unlike any other insult. Call me a cunt, call me a stupid bitch, and I’ll bounce back; fat, on the other hand, isn’t as easy. The word fat will have me standing in front of the mirror examining every inch of my body, and I’ll feel like a hypocrite for it, because I, like many of us, strongly believe in beauty being a thing that can be found in every body type. However, it’s a hard pill to swallow when it comes to ourselves. Why is this?

As with any situation, we are our worst critics. Whether it be in our bodies, our work or even how we interact with people, we see our flaws in ways that no one else can, and even when you point them out to those around us, those who love us can’t see them. What they see, and perhaps they’re blinded by how dear they hold you, is something beautiful looking back at them. As Carrie Bradshaw said to Standford Blatch one night in a bar when he hesitated to talk to a guy, “You don’t see what I see.” And it’s the truth.

Even those of who don’t struggle with body Body Dysmorphic Disorder have a hard time turning around and staring themselves in the mirror and screaming out, “I’m fucking hot! I’m beautiful!” And this has to change. We are indeed hypocrites if we can love others for their “less than perfect” bodies, but not be able to do that for ourselves. No one likes hypocrites. If people are beautiful in every size, we should know that to be true of us, too.

Maybe in being aware of just how unforgiving we are of ourselves, we can change the tide of this really demeaning way in which we view our bodies. Maybe in focusing on just how obscenely gorgeous the human body is in general with its lumps and bumps and dimples and curves, we can get over our self-appointed criticism and move forward. It will be a feat and it will require effort, but we all have it in us. I really believe we do.

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    • Jennifer Check

      I think it depends on a lot of things as to why we can’t see beauty in our own bodies. I think women should be comfortable in their own bodies and instead work on being better people and staying on the healthier side nutritionally speaking. For me it’s hard to see myself as hot or beautiful because I have a mom who competes with me and has instilled her opinions on the perfect body on me since I was like . “Don’t eat this you weigh too much you need to exercise more. You need to act sexier dress sexier.” Thanks mom! I’m 23 years old 5ft 5in and I weigh about 120-125lbs and I exercise 2-4 times a week! I’m a size 0-3 but I get to a size 5 and suddenly I’m “fat”. Even though I tell myself that I’m great the way I am I can’t help but have my mom’s voice telling me things when I look in the mirror or when my clothes is a bit tight. I want others to be happy in their skin and I try no to focus on the way people look but for myself I believe I have to have a perfect body. I think mainly it’s because I don’t want others to feel the way I do about their bodies and hope that they don’t not care about their appearance because they think they’re ugly anyways like I do.

    • Liz Grierson

      I think people come naturally in all shapes and sizes and if you’re doing what your body is meant to do, it probably looks great. Women at 4’10″, women at 6’2″, women at 90 lbs, women at 180 lbs – frames come in all kinds of healthy shapes. I believe the problem comes when we have eaten our way into a size that’s wrong for our frames. That looks lumpy, disproportionate, and waddling – whether it’s 120 lbs on someone who’s designed to be 90, or 200 pounds on someone who’s designed to be 170. There IS beauty at every size. There’s also under-exercised over-eaten flab at every size.

      • http://twitter.com/SamiDan19 Sami Jankins

        I’m sorry, but saying “there’s also under-exercised over-eaten flab at every size” just perpetuates that we all must be perfectly svelte. While I do feel you have a completely reasonable argument that we all have a certain frame that is appropriate for us, your ending sentence really detracts. Those “under-exercised/flab” people can be a part of the beauty too, can’t they? Aren’t we all beautiful to someone? We probably are…

    • http://twitter.com/SamiDan19 Sami Jankins

      As someone who has dealt with numerous health issues, I’ve dealt with seeing my body in a variety of states… very sickly and week, muscular and health in appearance, bruised, fake tanned, anemically pale, unable to walk up a flight of stairs, able to walk for miles, an “almost/tight” size 6 to my current size 12. I’m a size 12 darn it, and that’s totally ok! I’ve gained 15 lbs in a week from steroids. I’ve lost a 15 lbs in a week because I was too sick to consume food. I should really keep a size-variety of clothes in my closet. I have stretch marks. I have scars. I’m getting my gallbladder out in days and will have some more prize scars. If I spent every moment of my life hating myself and my appearance, it would be so very exhausting. I just decided one day that I would love myself, and that would be that. I know it’s not that easy for some (believe me, my sister was a model), but I HAD to for my own well being. It makes me so sad when people say mean things about themselves. I just want to give them a hug. I know no amount of convincing will make someone else realize that they, as they are, are enough… however I feel like society as a whole needs to take a step forward in not being so nit-picky about each other. We all need to make a conscious choice before making a comment about how someone else looks. Often these comments are just rooted in self-loathing.

    • Tania

      I am never happy with how I look, and I probably never will be. I’ve ranged from a size 2 to a size 10, and I’ve hated how I’ve looked at every size. It doesn’t help that at the heavier end, my mother told me I was fat and needed to lose weight (for pretty much all my life), and at the lower end that I was too skinny and needed to eat. Like, seriously, Mom, if size 4 (which I am now) is too fat, and size 2 is too skinny, WTF am I supposed to do?

      • Jennifer Check

        This is sounds a lot like my mother I developed anorexia at the age of 20 and I blame some of it on her! At my “fattest” I went up to a size 7 and at my lowest I was a size 00 my mother told me the perfect size was a 0! When I was a 00 she said I looked good I just didn’t look sexy…

    • kj

      There’s a lot I could say, but I’ll just say this: I once read somewhere that our body image obsession is like a modern-day sort of religion. Where once spiritual practices (or lack thereof) were a source for shame and control of women, fitness and weight control has taken it’s place.

      Consider that when you want to eat something that could cause you to gain weight, we say it’s a “temptation.” Eating something sweet is “sinful,” or indulgent, whereas when you eat well, you’re “being good.” The theory is that it’s weirdly filled some sort of void. Instead of piety, we expect healthyness – particularly from women.

      • Amanda Chatel

        I think I’m being good when I eat chocolate. But I confuse easily.

      • Maggie

        Dark chocolate has lots of antioxidants and chocolate in general is proven to make your mood better because your body releases endorphins while you’re eating it, so yes you are being good when you eat chocolate! Sweet, delicious goodness.

      • MR

        That’s very much what I keep trying to say. Do men really want a relationship with a women who are skinny, but unhealthy? I don’t. Also, obviously it is a couterproductive competiton amongst women.

    • Leah

      I don’t think articles like this help the cause at all. They simply continue to put more emphasis on physique and less focus on worth. Beauty does not equal worth. I don’t find a morbidly obese person to be beautiful, just as I don’t find an emaciated person to be beautiful. Beauty is about finding things aesthetically pleasing, and neither of those options pleases me. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t find the obese or anorexic person to be worthy. I’d rather see more articles focusing on a person’s worth as an individual (their inner beauty, if you will) than their outward appearance.

      • kj

        Absolutely agreed! I once read a comment somewhere else saying, “the point is that women need to be allowed to be ugly.” They do. Frankly, I *don’t* think everyone is physically beautiful. But that does not make them any less worthy of respect, or love, or happiness. …not to mention that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Yo, ladies — I was talking about learning to love our own bodies. Obvs, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To quote my dad, “gee whiz.”

      • Leah

        Why don’t we just learn to like ourselves instead? Focus on the real issue. It’s not the body.