I don't know how I missed it.
Around me people were stressing out about their appearance, their weight, their skin, their hair, their general look. But I didn't stress.
People were hating themselves for the appearance of their face, legs, ass, weight...and I didn't hate myself. I don't hate myself.
Don't get me wrong, I've added weight (lots of it). I've added chins.
I'm not delighted with the lesser health associated with the weight and I am working out now, down a few pounds. But that's not what I want to talk about, the pounds.
It's the self loathing.
How many people do you know, perhaps you yourself, who seriously and tragically loathe their own bodies. Are disgusted. Hate the skin that they live in. Can't look in the mirror.
I'm interestingly aware of my own thoughts and words right now as I write this blog post because parts of me want to assure you that I am quite cognizant of my weight and girth. It's no secret. I would like to lose some pounds and I'm working on it. Similarly I'm aware of the loss of my true attractiveness. I used to be quite cute. Losing that was shockingly and embarrassingly difficult. It took me about a decade to come to terms with no longer being cute. I had to seriously consider the value of beauty and youth in American culture and how fleeting, even how false, that genuinely is. Still I mourned my loss of it.
But during that entire decade I never hated myself.
Self-loathing doesn't happen organically. It grows within a family, a community, a culture. It comes from celebrations of bodies that are absolutely perfect, or Photo-shopped to look that way. Both men and women are exposed to thousands of images day after day of human bodies that are so digitally-edited and manipulated that there is no reality left in the image. Yet we see those images and feel inadequate beside them.
Additionally the culture reveres, weirdly worships, youth and slimness.
This is not news to you. We all know this and have known this for decades. The first time I ever knew of it was sometime in the 1980s when TV Guide took Oprah Winfrey's head and put in onto Ann Margaret's body. Ann Freaking Margaret. I'm certain such deception wasn't new even then. Now the ability to bend and change and misrepresent images is so pervasive I doubt we ever see a pic that isn't somehow revis....er, butchered.
Yet even knowing this so many of us, mature men and women, and the next generations of our children are wandering around feeling inadequate, unworthy, and full of self-loathing.
How this passed me by is completely beyond me. Not only was the female image actually taped to the wall (pictures of naked women...yes, you read that right; pictures of naked women were a part of my childhood), not only did our father jokingly call his adolescent daughters Thunder Thighs and Truck Butt, not only was there no strong female lead in our home, not only was my appearance one of the major roles that I played in the family identity, and not only were we a strong TV- and movie-viewing family, but the culture of the time was strongly slanted toward extremely thin, sickly looking young men and women in all of the teen magazines and popular womens' mags. How did I miss the body image distortions, because important people around me caught it?
One person very close to me can't believe I can be happy with myself when I have lost that beauty that I was once noted for. Yet I am. I am happy with myself and I think I've figured out some of the reasons why the self-loathing skipped me.
- I am aware that my value does not lie in my appearance. I am deeply loved for the person that I am and I deeply love myself for how strenuously I fight to be honest and authentic.
Because the quality of character means everything to the world around us, THAT is what we owe the world.
- Self-loathing and a distortion of the reality of body creates an inability to see one's self clearly. Once you are into the hatred of your own body, no reality of self actually gets through. Many, many men and women who struggle with this are entirely unaware of their own beauty, inside and outside.
In fact, I know that you are saying to yourself that there are things that I don't know about you and that is why this one does not apply to you.
- And, weird as this may sound, having been pretty, I know that having it does not make me a better person. I know that having that thing that so many people long for is a total fools trap because having beauty doesn't bring happiness, joy, or fulfillment at all.
Being happy, joyful, and doing fulfilling things does.
I can't offer solutions or secrets on how to turn Self-Hatred into Self-Worth, though it is possible. But I can contribute this small thought exercise to the discussion. If you struggle with the distortions of body image, please reread the three points I made above.
Our society as a whole, not the American culture, the Global Popular Culture worships thin.
Beyond healthy thin.
Be the change you need to see in the world. Recognize the bullshit TRAP you have bought into and are being controlled by. And do everything you can do to change the way you talk to yourself...because the world needs people who are kind and who know how to love themselves.