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,” 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,” 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.