You know what, as a society we’ve become so cautious of ‘body shaming’ that a girl can’t even complain about her own looks without being accused of being insensitive and body shaming!
Here’s a common scenario I face:
Me: Ugh, my thighs have gotten so big I need to get back to the gym
Female friend: What? That’s nothing! Look at mine!
That pretty much is the end of the conversation because.. what else could I say? “No, mine is bigger”, and bring out the measuring tape? Or should I say “Oh yeah, you’re right” and get bitch-slapped?
It’s actually really challenging to complain about how I look, especially around female friends. Most of the time, they’ll convince me that I don’t have a problem, because they feel it’s them who has that problem. Then my role becomes trying to convince them that they look great – which, trust me, is a crazy hard task because NO WOMAN ever believes you when you tell them they look great!!
And then there are a few who will get offended if I dare talk about wanting to lose weight. “Well, I’m bigger than you”, they’d say, “so are you saying I’m fat??”
Here’s the thing, crazy women – whatever I say about my looks has absolutely nothing to do with YOU! I’m looking at my face, thighs, stomach, butt, and so on, and evaluating them based on my view and preferences. So when I say my thighs are getting bigger, I don’t mean you have mammoth thighs! I just mean my thighs are bigger compared to MY OWN PERSONAL PREFERENCE of how I want my thighs to look.
It’s like there’s this unspoken rule of ‘Let’s make everyone feel okay about their looks’, which I have nothing against. But if I acknowledge things I want to change about myself and then work towards changing that, then what’s the problem? Isn’t it the same as me saying I want to change my nail or hair colour? You wouldn’t say to me “Why do you need a manicure? Look at my nails- they’re even worse.”
So then, does it make me a body-shaming anti-feminist if I want to have a nice butt?
At this point I can hear some people say “What you think looks ‘nice’ is defined by standards set by the media and society”, etc.
Yeah, I get that. And, I’m still able to form an opinion around what looks ‘good’ for me – influenced by media or not.
And look, I do get what it’s like when you’re listening to someone – who according to you looks like they could be on a magazine cover – complain about their looks. I’ve wanted to punch these girls in the face a few times myself.
When I try to understand why that is, I think there are two things at play.
One: that I take what they say as an “attack” or a threat to how I look, and it triggers my insecurities. I start to think, wow she looks really great and if she’s still saying she’s got bad skin, then what hope do I have? So by shutting down their complaints, I’m also attempting to shut down my insecurities.
Two: maybe I just can’t stand to see someone feel ‘bad’ or ‘insecure’. Like, I feel a need to say something to make them feel better.
So I asked myself, how should we respond when another woman complains about her looks?
To answer that question, let me share some of the best responses I’ve gotten.
From my husband (God bless him)
Me: I feel fat
Hubby: Baby, I think you’re beautiful, and I get that you want your body to look a certain way, and you’re not happy with the way it is right now. And look, I see you as a powerful woman who can make anything happen, including having the body of your dreams. And I’ll support you in any way you need.
Another one is from a friend
Me: My butt is gone .. Nooooo
Friend: Haha. Hey, I’ve got a free pass to this class at the gym, wanna go together? I need some butt workout too.
So, what can we learn from these responses?
#1 They didn’t take it personally or turn it into something about them
#2 They didn’t try to convince me to change my opinion.
I think the point is, everyone is entitled to their own opinions about their looks, and it’s not a personal attack on the other person. So the next time a friend says she’s not happy with her face/tummy/legs/butt, just get that this is how she feels, and all she really needs is for you to listen.