Oct. 16 is Love Your Body Day, a day dedicated to combatting the idea that women’s bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement.
It’s all around us in Hollywood and in the fashion, cosmetic and diet industries. They all project subtle inadequacies on women to sell products and services. Over 8 million people in the U.S. have an eating disorder, 10 percent of whom are men. Several studies, including one from the University of Wisconsin, indicate that upwards of 90 percent of women are unhappy with their appearance.
We’ve all heard the harsh critiques of fashion magazines and make-up commercials. But the more insidious form of body shaming comes from more innocent sources. The biggest culprit is Pinterest.
It’s called Thinspiration. And one quick search on the site brings up thousands of images of flat tummies and smooth skin. Quotes like “everything looks good on skinny,” and “what you eat in private, you wear in public,” and “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” dominante the page.
While I understand wanting motivation to eat right and get out and exercise, if that is one’s choice, this is the wrong way to do it. Thinspiration is a motivational tool based on shame, guilt and envy. The purpose is to make women feel ashamed about that piece of cake they had for dessert. Guilty they didn’t run six miles on the treadmill, and envious of the tan, smooth-skinned, skinny girl who is far below her average body size.
When will we stop shaming ourselves and our bodies? When will we stop shaming other women and their bodies?
I’ve had a baby. I have loose skin, stretch marks and a muffin top. I am mostly confident in my own skin. But whenever I see one of those thinspiration pins, I can’t help but feel guilted and shamed. It’s an automatic response. One post I saw the other day was a photo of a ripped woman, six-pack abs and all, surrounded by her three small children. “What’s your excuse?” the caption read.
I don’t have one. I don’t want one. I don’t need one. I dislike counting calories. I hate formal exercise. I’m busy and have more important things to do with my time than worry about fitting into size two jeans. But apparently, according to the message of that photo, I need some sort of valid excuse to not look like that. As if looking that one particular way represents some sort of moral high ground.
That is bull pucky. Less pounds does not equal a better person. It’s about time we stop judging people based on their appearances. It’s time to stop guilting women into thinking they need to look different than they do. It’s time to start accepting everyone for who they are — small, large and everything in between.
Next week, on Oct. 16, head over to Pinterest. And instead of repinning thinspiration, do a search for body love and spend time spreading the truth — our bodies are perfect just the way they are.
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