Along the same lines as learning to accept mindful movement instead of the exercise equation, I am still learning to accept my body at this size and not fall victim to the shame of not fitting into the acceptable standards set forth by society.
In a recent e-mail to a member of my treatment team, I found myself using the terms “thin and pretty” as if they were synonymous; as if they have the power to define me. My thinking was I will never be pretty again if I am not thin. I truly believed I could never be considered pretty because I am not thin and probably never will be thin again. Okay, truth time: I know what the BMI standards say and even when I was an “average” weight and BMI, I really struggled to stay there. In order for me to be an “average” weight I have to do some very unhealthy things; namely engage in eating disordered behaviors almost constantly. That truth, that being of “average” weight and BMI probably won’t happen for me, has been very hard for me to accept this week.
Coming to terms with the reality I may never be a socially acceptable size or weight ever again is painful. Knowing I will struggle with feeling like a social pariah for the foreseeable future is hard. Being judged and looked at like a deviant because people assume I can’t control how much I eat is embarrassing. (Little do they know I still feel like a slave to food but in a very different way. I mean, you try tracking every single thing you eat then having it examined by someone weekly.) However, I have been able to find inspirational articles about celebrities who are fighting back and it helps to know there are people trying to break down the societal standards. My prime example is Melissa McCarthy who recently called out the shopping industry for “segregating” plus-size women:
“People don’t stop at size 12. I feel like there’s a big thing missing where you can’t dress to your mood above a certain number. (Malls) segregate plus-size (women). It’s an odd thing that you can’t go shopping with your friends because your store is upstairs hidden by the tire section. ‘We’ll put you gals over there because we don’t want to see you and you probably don’t want to be seen.’”
Melissa McCarthy speaks the absolute truth in my mind. I mean, have you seen some of the clothes in the plus-size section of a store? Chances are, unless you have to shop in that section, you have never given it a second glance. Let me tell you, the clothes are not cute. They are not trendy. And they definitely are NOT fashionable. I am 28 years old and I don’t want to dress like I’m trying to hide myself inside a bag made of material. I want to feel sexy, cute, and fashionable… just like any other 28-year-old woman. Here’s the other thing, so many women who are “plus-size” are truly beautiful! Not only are they beautiful in appearance, but they are beautiful in personality because they have had to endure-and overcome-the ugly attitudes of society. I want to be that kind of beautiful, not pretty.
The term “pretty” sounds petty, superficial even. Honestly, I decided to look up how the dictionary defines the word “pretty” and I definitely don’t want to be that. Pretty is defined as, “attractive in a delicate way without being truly beautiful or handsome.” Shocking! That was not the definition I was expecting! Finding out the true definition of the word pretty only reinforces I don’t want to be described as such. I would rather be truly beautiful in my personality and how I serve The Lord rather than being seen as pretty in the eyes of society. I hope people will see me and think I am a beautiful woman by my actions, how I treat others, and by my faith rather than my appearance.
Initially I was going to title this post “Part II: Thin and Pretty are NOT Synonymous” but I changed my mind after reading the definition. Actually, thin and pretty are somewhat synonymous, especially in our society today. All women can be pretty or beautiful.
So, for what are you striving?
To be pretty or to be beautiful?
With Body Love,