After my post last week about owning it, I decided to start sharing more things that I’ve owned. I think some of you might need a regular reminder to start owning the things you do, and I thought I’d lead by example.
Today, I’m owning this: I love my body. But sometimes, I still want to lose weight.
Sorry I’m not sorry.
As I’ve said repeatedly, I believe you can be healthy at any size and I do think it’s complete bullshit that our culture prioritizes thinness over everything else. If I see a person who is overweight (culturally, medically, whatever), I don’t really care. I still find her attractive. I don’t think less of her as a person. I don’t make assumptions that she’s not healthy. I don’t think she’s any less deserving of love, friendship, career success, a happy family, and a great life. And there’s not a day that I look in the mirror and don’t think the same things about myself. I really don’t think that health and happiness are a number on the scale.
But here’s the thing: I’m still kinda vain.
And why is this even a thing? Because…I’m supposed to love myself just the way I am!
Here’s what’s bothering me: it’s pretty easy — and common — to bash different media outlets for promoting an unhealthy level of thinness in women. I’ve talked before about how E! News, porn, and US Weekly all make me want to not eat. But the problem I’m having right now is that the alternative isn’t helping either. Everywhere I turn, from the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty ads to the Operation Beautiful press releases spamming up my inbox, to just, well, the laws of feminism, I’m being told that I MUST LOVE MYSELF EXACTLY THE WAY I AM.
Yeah, yeah…I get it. I love myself a lot, thank you very much. But when I see an ad telling me I must love myself because I am beautiful and perfect just the way I am, I get pissed.
So instead of feeling bad about how I look, now I feel bad about feeling bad about how I look? And I don’t even feel bad about how I look; it’s just that some days, I look in the mirror and think, “Oh, well, hm, maybe you should lay off the Triscuits.”
And I’m OK with that! I don’t think “fat” is a dirty word, and yet I don’t think wanting to lose weight is a crime.
But with all these (super positive, well-intentioned) messages coming at me, I feel like I’m constantly passing signs that say, “You should really call your mother more.”
And I’m like a petulant teenager, thinking, “I’ll call when I feel like it, goddamnit.”
The thing is, I didn’t start loving my body because anyone told me to. For me, that’s about as likely as loving a guy because all my friends think he’s perfect for me. To fall in love, you simply must fall in love. You can’t be forced into it, whether it’s with a guy or with yourself. So I could read all the books and magazine articles and see all the billboards with their generic “You’re awesome!” messages making me feel like I was in the Body Image Special Olympics, but I seriously had to fall in love with my body on my own. Most of the time it came from doing things that made me feel really, really good, but I’m not going to lie — sometimes it came from feeling skinny.
And I’ve owned it. As long as you take good care of yourself, lay off the diet pills and crappy fake foods, and refuse to miss out on all the delicious, sexy possibilities that life has to offer, then I don’t see a problem with still making an effort to lose weight for vanity reasons alone. If you follow rule #1 and don’t act ridiculous, then what’s the big deal?
And I’m pretty sure there’s not a woman among us who only works out to be healthy. We all know that sometimes, being healthy sucks. I’m not saying I’d swallow a parasite in an effort to lose weight…but if I accidentally got a parasite, well…I’d be able to see the silver lining in the situation.
Like I said, I’m over feeling guilty. Have you ever looked at someone you loved and thought, “God, I love you, but right now, I don’t really like you”? That’s how I feel about my body. I love it — LOVE IT — but that doesn’t mean that I like it every minute of every day.
I know that’s not what I’m supposed to say, but it’s the truth.