On Body Image

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Hello,

Long time no blog! I’m six  five (fuck) weeks from graduation, and approximately one more responsibility away from a nervous breakdown. Just kidding, I’ve discovered that being in fourth year means its basically impossible for me to get super stressed about school. It’ll all work out….riiiiiiight? However, there is a lot going on and the blog always falls by the wayside in those situations. But I’ve missed you!!

Today’s post has been brewing in my mind for awhile, and its a bit of a departure from my usual hilarious witty amazing food blog posts. But it’s something I really feel needs to be addressed more, particularly among women around my age (and if were being honest, around my school). So let’s jump right in:

The collective relationship young women have with their bodies and body image is pretty abysmal. The insecurity girls have regarding their size and weight is so palpable on campus I feel like I can hear the calories being counted when I’m in the crowd of people trying to what to buy from the campus grocery store bulk bin (#plantainschips4eva). While my thoughts surrounding eating disorders could be contained in an entirely separate blog, the thing that made me want to write this post specifically was a conversation I overheard recently at the gym:

Girl 1: I can’t wait to go out tonight, I’ve already planned my drunk food.

Girl 2: Yeah, and we already burned it off at the gym!

The fact that this conversation probably surprises no one infuriates me. Because my follow up question, had I actually been invited to this conversation and wasn’t eavesdropping like the lurk I am, would have been why do you have to burn it off at all? why can’t you just eat what you want? And I expect my answer would have been “Because we might get fat”.

angry animated GIF

(lol this hypothetical conversation is getting me so heated).

This is just many of the ways I’ve noticed young women create this breeding ground for eating disorders within their relationships. We are constantly tangling our feelings regarding food, body image, and fitness into one confusing web, and subconsciously project this on to others. Maybe poor Girl 1 just wanted to debate the pros and cons of pizza vs pounair for her drunk food of choice and then BAM Girl 2 is like hey dont forget, you needed to burn that drunk food off in order to deserve it. And this happens all the time! Just the other day I was at dinner and a friend said she was ordering fries because she went to the gym today, and everyone nodded and agreed with her. I get that these are usually jokes, but I think jokes like that just perpetuate this unhealthy culture in which we as women can’t just eat what we want and be happy about it. Can you imagine if someone said to your friend “Hey, I see you’re ordering fries, I’m guessing you went to the gym then? Better burn that off!” That would be blasphemy. A girl riot would ensue (at least among my friends). And yet, by saying that kind of shit about yourself out loud to your friends, those are the  standards you’re setting up for them.

Another way I’ve noticed women tend to propagate this culture of disordered eating is by associating personality traits with physical appearance. Examples of this:

“Oh I love Anna! She’s so pretty”

“I don’t know why he’d go for her over you, you’re way hotter”

“Ugh I don’t really like her, and she wears way too much makeup”

mean girls animated GIF

This one is tough because a lot of the time, women compliment each other to boost each other up and express that they like each other. Which I think is great! But by focusing on appearance, ultimately you’re just stressing that that’s what’s worth complimenting. And obviously the converse is when we’re all being gossipy bitches and someone says they don’t like so and so for blank reasons, one of which includes something about their physical appearance. I get it, gossip happens. It can be very therapeutic sometimes. But by saying to your friends that you think a valid reason for not liking someone includes the way they look, you’re really telling your friends that they have to look a certain way to be liked, by you and, implicitly, by others.

I know that a lot of these examples are really projections of internal insecurity, and aren’t meant maliciously. As human beings, we need a lot of social approval and contact, and I think its natural that we subconsciously reflect our thoughts onto others. And I will never fault someone for feeling insecure about their body, its a tough world out there as a young woman. But what I really want is for women (I guess specifically my friends since lets be real no one else reads this blog) to be more cognizant of what they say to other women regarding their own body image. One comment may not make the biggest difference, but one comment a few times a day from a few different people can really shape how you think about body image.

So give it a shot; don’t ask your friend if shes lost weight because she looks great lately, just ask her how shes doing. Don’t joke with your friends that were all going to get so fat after eating this bag of chips, just eat what you want and enjoy their company. Because you never know when someone is struggling, and it would really be a happier and healthier world if we, as young women, could stop hating on our bodies for a little bit.

This song is very yes right now

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4 responses »

  1. Well-said. I’ll try harder to do as you suggest since I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for calling attention to this.

  2. You and I think along waaaay too similar of a line! I creep your blog oodles of times, and was drooling over some recent recipes, when I stumbled upon this post! It reminded me of a similar post I wrote (http://beingrebecca.weebly.com/blog/my-instrument). SO GLAD to see this topic being addressed everywhere! WHY wasn’t this ever an Experiments Show Segment and WHY weren’t we ever partnered together?!

    • ahh I’ll have to check out that blog post! Glad you enjoyed, it’s a difficult subject to concisely put into words because I get so passionate about it. ahah yeah we never did experiments together! I’m still doing it, maybe I’ll make this a show in your honor 🙂

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