Feel free to call this a rant. I call it an inspired response. :) I hope you enjoy it. At the very least, I hope it makes you think. 
Love,
Alexis

I always find it amazing how quickly women rally when their bodies – or the bodies of other women – are at stake.

We hear about rape being used as a weapon of war and are (rightfully) outraged by the domination and penetration of women’s bodies as a byproduct of battle.

So, we write checks.

We are livid when we read an account of a survivor or victim of domestic violence.

So, we volunteer.

We see politicians (ab)use our bodies for political gain in discussions of mandated transvaginal ultrasounds and are irate.

So, we protest.

But when we fail to treat our own bodies with love, respect, admiration and gratitude, how can we possibly ask others to do the same?

When we look in the mirrors each day (or, even worse, step on a scale every morning) and subject ourselves to harsh criticism that pegs our worth to our weight and our confidence to our clothing size, why are we not outraged then?

When we starve ourselves in order to attempt to achieve some socially constructed, computer-generated and impossible to achieve ideal of beauty, to whom should we write a check in protest? (Because, really, is a culture that leads women to believe that they need to starve themselves any less atrocious than a culture that permits others to starve us?)

When 50% of women between 18 and 25 report in a magazine poll that they “would rather be dead than fat,”[1] where is the rally?

Or when a study commissioned by Dove finds that “two thirds of women around the world, from 15 year-olds to 60 year-olds, avoid basic activities of life because they feel badly about the way they look: activities such as meeting friends, exercising, voicing an opinion, going to school, going to work, dating, or even seeking medical help,”[2] why are we not writing letters to our senators?

This is not to say that some forms of violence against women are any more or less atrocious than any other.

They’re all reprehensible.

But where is the protest for freedom from unrealistic beauty ideals? Where can we volunteer to free women from the invisible corsets into which we’ve been tied? To whom should we write the checks to free us from our own self-hatred?

We cannot ask others to respect our bodies until we respect them ourselves. And this is something we can do.

I believe in the power of women. I believe in the power of our bodies. I believe in the power of change.

So, what are you going to do to change it?

Me? I’ve thrown away my scale (with a few minor setbacks), stopped looking at my body as something to be controlled, and begun to appreciate my body for what it can do, not what it looks like.

It’s a process – one I’m still working on, and sometimes struggling with – but I’m getting there, or at least getting closer.

I hope you are too.


[1] Thone, “Fat: A Fate Worse Than Death?; Women, Weight and Appearance,” 141 – 142.
[2] Dove, “‘Beyond Stereotypes: Rebuilding the Foundation of Beauty Beliefs’: Findings of the 2005 Dove Global Study,” 6.
Photography credit here.

6 Comments

  1. Danielle Sonnenberg Reply

    thank you for this post. well said!! I will think about this when I look in the mirror and get annoyed at the grey hair!

  2. Thank you so much for posting this Alexis, you rock! I, like many women, tend to fall into that “you’re not good enough” mentality and pick apart my body piece by piece, judging too critically, and comparing myself to women I find more attractive. And I always end up feeling inferior and insecure! I have practiced yoga for almost 15 years and have gradually, through tons of practice and meditation, begun to really grasp the concept of acceptance and forgiveness towards myself. I’m skinny as a rail and only step on a scale when I’m forced to at the doctor, but the mirror (and my own mind) is my nemesis. I can always find something that I wish was different or better and that’s the mentality I’ve had to train myself out of. My trick is, when I look in a mirror, I try not study what I see there so intently or critically and if any negative feeling arise, I just say, “so hum” (I am that) – I am what I am, and I’m perfect just like this. I also meditate on ahimsa, the principle of nonviolence toward all living things; myself being the living thing that I am most violent toward through negative, toxic thoughts and feeling. Sometimes we all need a little attitude adjustment and these tricks help me tremendously!

  3. Thank you for this post Alexis.
    This is a great message, that needs to be more widespread. Accepting ourselves the way we are.

    I have for a long time felt sad at how many women feel bad about themselves, due to mostly themselves and our society. I keep wondering how to help more women realize how amazing they are and that they deserve happiness, success and all things they want, yet often don’t achieve due to their own minds tricking them.

    I also keep wondering how more people (all humans now, not just one gender) don’t realize all the fakery that is going on. All the post production on pictures, movies and other images that then go on to being “inspiration” for the normal humans. The famous people don’t even look like their own images, yet they often go to unhealthy extremes to come close to such a fake ideal.

    This is a hard battle for us humans, more so for women, with many different levels of pressure.
    I do however want to cling to the hope that we are smart enough to see past the smoke and mirrors, and start to know the difference between real and fake.

    Being in shape, for health reasons, and feeling good knowing what our bodies CAN do. Not concentrate on not being this or that way, or constantly thinking what others think of us. There is no one perfect mold that everyone should fit into. There are no magic measurements that are perfect.
    I have been injured twice and am still dealing with so much physical pain (over half my life), but I am always thrilled when I can do a workout and not get more physical pain afterwards, part of my future goals are to be able to walk normally up and down stairs and hills! I dream of being able to jump rope again. I have gained weight after my accidents, but I am not striving to be like some unrealistic ideal. I just want to be a normal healthy weight again so my body can handle the chronic pain better.
    I understand the wanting to fix problem areas, but having a functioning body is so much more important than fitting into a mold. Losing my health at an early age helped me to appreciate the smaller things that most take for granted. I want to wear belts, or necklaces without getting muscle spasms, I also want to wear more pants or skirts with out getting excruciating pain from it.
    We all need to learn to love what we are capable of, and compete with ourselves to reach our goals, not with fake images and unrealistic ideals.

    I am extremely greatful to my parents for my upbringing. I have strong ethical morals, I know fake from reality. I have always been content with myself, treated myself kindly and know that I am a decent human being. I respect others and deserve respect myself. Its about who I am not what I look like or what size I fit into.

  4. Danielle, Beth & Katla – Thank you so much for your replies!

    BETH – You ARE Good Enough! Try giving yourself a compliment every time you look in the mirror, before you have a chance to think or say something negative. It will help set the tone for a more positive relationship with your reflection, which you deserve :)

    KATLA – I do believe we’re smart enough to see past the smoke and mirrors – when we know that we’re looking at smoke and mirrors! Too often, we don’t realize that the images we’re looking at are pieces of “art” not what “real women” look like. I hope that I – and The Beauty Bean – can help to shine a light on that and provide women with a place that celebrated health and wellness above size and REAL BEAUTY. I am inspired by your story and sending you love!

  5. Danielle Sonnenberg Reply

    Wow, Katla, thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Your story really touched me and makes me realize how much I have and to appreciate that. Sending you lots of love and light!!!!! You can do it!!!

  6. Thank you so much for the love and thoughts Alexis and Danielle,

    I have been busy (forgot to check back here).

    I chose a career in possibly the most superficial job ever. I am a make up artist, was working on a short film.

    I help make the art of images. I love the work that goes into one single beautiful picture, I also enjoy the old way of working on images, using actual smoke and mirrors. With technology so much of the real work has been lost, good make up, great lighting, great styling and a super talented image maker (either photo or film). Its all come down to post processing now, and with so much technology we keep getting farther and farther from reality.

    I DO still believe humans are smart enough, but so often I run into ignorance and disbelief at how much of what we see all around us if fake. That is the part that scares me. We need to stay awake and see the fakery and enjoy the visuals, but realize its not reality.

    Technology can be great for so many things like finding new information, keeping in touch with people but so many feel that virtual world is more important/real than outside in the real world.

    I am thrilled to have found The Beauty Bean, and enjoy the more wholesome realistic approach. You are doing a good job helping to keep it real.

    The less superficial part of me, is a personal fitness trainer, since I had always been in shape, and loved working out. My problem has always been taking the baby steps needed, not rushing into hardcore workouts.
    I trust myself better to help myself get back to where I want to be, and its happening, slowly but surely. Since I am the one that knows my body, and what its capable of. I listen to when I need rest and when I can push myself, nobody else can do that for us. Its great to get support from friends and family but we have to do the grunt work.

    I am glad if I can help anyone realize that they already have so much and can do more. Being able to to “normal” things is a great thing.

    Keep up the good work here at The Beauty Bean, I will keep reading and enjoying.

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