I was catching up on the latest episode of the Michelle Obama podcast, and she asked a very thought-provoking question.
The question was:
Do you know any woman who is perfectly happy with the way they look?
On the surface this appears to be a pretty simple, straightforward question. But I will give you a minute to think about it. Can you think of any woman off the top of your head? not trying to lose weight or gain weight, or wishing she had a bigger bum, bigger boobs, straighter nose, clearer skin, flatter stomach, thicker thighs… Just perfectly satisfied with her looks.
I couldn’t think of any.
Neither could Michelle.
Nor her guest.
And that reality is just saddening.
From the corset-wearing days (and corsets seriously look like the most painful garments ever), to this social media age, women have had to live up to certain specific, and sometimes unrealistic beauty standards. And the saddest part is that women continually struggle, often going through extreme and life-threatening measures in order to fit in. Don’t believe me? Check out any weight loss, or plastic surgery page on Instagram and see who the majority of their clients are.
It is just such an exhausting way for a gender to live!
This menace is so normalised that sometimes you meet the most perfectly looking woman (If there is any such thing), and you hear her voice out so many insecurities about her body and look.
Yes, I know self esteem is an individual thing, and people have varying degrees of self confidence in their bodies. Yet, as women, we really need to learn to be kinder and easier on ourselves and our bodies. There is so much a woman’s body goes through in a lifetime. From fluctuating hormones, to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause…etc. I think it is only fair then to be kind to ourselves. We shouldn’t always believe what the media tells us is beautiful. We have to realise that beauty comes in all shapes and forms. And there just might be more to the snapback, IG model body, than we are shown or told.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with self improvement or taking steps to make yourself look or feel better. You are pretty much stuck with your body for life, so it is important to treat it well. It is important to eat healthy, exercise, practice wellness activities etc.
But as a society, we have to also understand that thin is not necessarily healthy, and vice versa. We have to understand that health and wellness is a continuum. That we are all at different points in this continuum. And that what wellness means for one person may not be the same for the other person. And even more importantly, as individuals and as women, we need to understand this.
This post is for you as much as it is for me. Trying to change yourself just to fit in with the society’s definition of beauty can really be exhausting. I am pretty certain you agree with me.
So just DO YOU.
If at all you want to do anything to change your looks, do it for you.
Because like I said earlier, your body is yours, and yours to live with for the rest of your life.
Let me leave you with this quote by Oprah Winfrey that I think is a great way to sum this all up:
“The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the storyline that says you’re too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step towards transforming your experience of the world.”