Dear Girls and Women Everywhere,
If you ever hear anyone say the words in this post title to you, or anything with a comparable meaning, I ask you to PLEASE know that a perfectly acceptable response is,
“That is complete and utter bullshit; please do not project your skewed views of what is important onto me, as I am perfectly wonderful just the way I am.”
“What an extremely shallow world view you have. I pity you.”
“Interesting. I would have thought that bigotry, violence, war, or pestilence would be more of a humankind-destroyer than fat. But that’s just me.”
“Clearly your self-esteem and body image issues have done a number on you. I hope you can overcome that. However, please allow me to live a life free of self-consciousness and self-hate; don’t hand down those issues to me and kindly keep those soul-killing opinions to yourself.”
Mothers, fathers, older siblings, mentors, grandparents? Please teach your girls to respond to the weight stuff by calling bullshit.
Most of what fuels the fire in me has to do with injustice, unkindness, and making sure that those who have no voice (children, animals, those who are still–in this day and age–discriminated against because of skin hue, gender, Socio-Economic status, religion, gender identity, etc.) are seen and heard and accepted.
But. The idea that I COULD have grown up liking myself? That I could have known that at 5’9″ and 128 pounds I was THIN? That I could have felt better about the National Dean’s List than about finally getting into a size 10 work uniform? That there was an actual world outside that didn’t care about my physical weight, but about the weight of my contributions to making the world better? That I wouldn’t have wasted time, at NINE MONTHS PREGNANT, sobbing to my (then-and very patient-) husband about my “obesity?”
Yeah, that burns me up.
So listen, girls. I know that magazines and TV shows and family members may be giving you a skewed view of what is attractive or acceptable. I am begging you to discount that. I’m not feeding you the trite anonymous “You are beautiful!” line. I’m saying that what you do is more important than a number on the scale. Who you help is more important than a number on a scale. What you read and learn are more important than a number on a scale. PLEASE believe this.
Because I don’t.
Well I take that back. I believe it about you, but not me. I will most likely spend all of my days trying to dial back the notion that women must be validated first by their size and then by any other attributes they possess.
I know that some of you of my gender/generation will be nodding in agreement right now. I want to do whatever I can to make sure that those who come after our generation do not get stuck in the same muck. Maybe we can catch some of them before the grooves get too deeply carved into their spirits.
If you recognize yourself in my musings, will you help some girl to grow up without the unhealthy burden of basing her validity and self-esteem on her weight?
You can start when they’re very young (click below):
Be strong. Be kind. Be adventurous. Be compassionate. That’s real beauty.
And if you need to drop some poundage for health reasons, like I do? Of course, go for it. But make it about your own health, mobility, and strength–NOT about your validity or worthiness as a person.
Support the insightful artist who has graciously allowed me to share his work here: The Art of Barry Deutsch