One of the common threads I have been reading on many blogs, books and other places is the connection of body acceptance or should I say the lack of it and people who suffer from trauma, especially sexual abuse. There also seems to be a link in weight gain and eating disorders.
Because it is my frame of reference and I am not familiar with other countries, I say that the American society is very brain washed with the wrong concept when it comes to acceptable body image. We all know that the media shoves tons of images at us of skinny misshaped women. Their bodies are unnatural and Photoshopped. Yet it has become the desirable way to look and it is unobtainable.
I have been enjoying the many new You Tube videos which are trying to open the channels of acceptance for a more human view point of the shape of a human. I also have been enjoying the switch of males for females in sexually explicit commercials. While we find a guy covered in chips in bed hilarious, it is perfectly accepted and broadcast on TV when it was a woman. And we buy these products that say that these products will enhance our sexual appeal. Balderdash!
My point is two-fold on this topic. The media has to stop making females out to be nothing but sexual objects. It is unfair and extremely misleading for the youth of our country to grow up with the misconception that the thing that makes or breaks a female is her body. And it also creates a belief that men can mistreat women because they are an object.
When I was growing up, my father’s attitude towards women definitely influenced not only my brothers who are very chauvinistic, but my sister and me. I think my sister was too promiscuous because she sought acceptance through sex. It affected me with an opposite reaction.
It also influenced our body acceptance. My sister was petite like my mother, she was dark eyed and had dark brown hair like my father’s side of the family. I came into the world big, red-haired, with very light green eyes. The joke used to be, since I did not look like my siblings, that I was left under a cabbage leaf or some other terrible story. All this did was made me feel more ostracized. I was a chubby toddler and I was also taller than any of the other women in my family. By the age of twelve, I was fully blossomed into a shapely female. This was not accepted as a good thing by my family and I was painfully reminded and degraded that I was different. This also caused things to happen in my life which also impacted my feelings about my body.
By the time I was in high school, I had a pretty bad outlook on my appearance. I looked back at the few pictures of me from then and I realize now I was actually quite attractive. I covered myself in my junior and senior year in coveralls and baggie clothes. Later in my life, I had moments of self-acceptance, but then ended up in a marriage that systematically dismantled any self-esteem I had.
I feel very strongly against the propaganda used in so many venues that display women with figures like Barbie. You see it in comics, video games and any place where women are depicted as warrior types. They all have huge chests, no waists and legs ten feel long. Little boys grow up thinking that this is what a strong woman should look like.
In ancient times, Goddesses were not depicted that way at all. They were very full breasted, had full hips and often in this century’s viewpoint, obese. It really scorches me when I see modern drawings of Goddesses drawn in the today’s tradition of unreal body shapes. There are very few if any women out there who really look like that. We set up young girls for failure when we cram these unnatural images of people that they might want to aspire to.
There are many physical reactions that will impact a survivor of sexual abuse and one is often manifested in her body. It is very common for women to put on weight to use as body protection. Having a large body puts space between others and it also thought that it might be a deterrent to more sexual abuse. It also happens when the person becomes disassociated with their body. If you do not feel your body, you do not see your body…… it does not exist and therefore it gets out of shape or maybe is not the best of shape. I know this to be true for myself. It only adds to the concept of self-hatred and loathing and because people of size are not accepted, it continues the ostracization that already occurs being a victim. It deflects people from the real issue. It also feeds the self-deprivation mode that survivors often live in. “I am not worthy. Look I am fat and society deems that ugly, so I must be all that.” (Did not mean to make a rhyme)
I know there are people out there who feel all fat people are disgusting. They think we are lazy and slobs and must spend all our time eating. Our society feeds that mentality. I was on a website where a zaftig young woman was flaunting her curves in some very cute two piece bathing suits. I thought she was stunning. The site had a series of posts from viewers who trashed her. They were repeatedly commenting on the fact that she was not a size 14 like she said in the video but more a 22 or more. They totally were criticizing her on the audacity to wear a two piece with a large tummy. I think someone made a comment about how she must be Photoshopped because she did not have stretch marks. There were some very cruel comments and mostly from women. They missed the point totally. She was standing up for all women to accept their body.
I really want to encourage anyone who is reading this to think twice about their own comments and feelings when they see people of size. I have read where people will do just about anything to not be fat. One woman I read about would rather not take antidepressants because they will make her put weight on. She was prescribed the medicine because she was suicidal. So she would rather be dead than fat. Young girls bully others because they are not bone thin. It is a tradition for women when they get together to eat to first deny that they are hungry. Then they pick and feign desires for the luscious delights that are offered to them, let’s say at a party. I personally like to cook and I have no patience for anyone who comes to my house and does not eat. That’s just rude.
It used to be acceptable to ostracize people with different pigmented skin. They were labeled inappropriately and demeaned them on their physical presentation and not on the person. It is totally unacceptable. We need to really think about this with body image. It is still okay to make fun of people who are small in stature. It is totally acceptable to ridicule someone who is rounder and fuller. It is not ok to stare at someone who has a birth defect (bad word in my terms) but you can stare down and verbally make slanderous remarks to people of size. This actually happened to my husband when we were out. We had parked the car normally in the space allotted. When we went to leave, someone park so close he could not get in the car. It would only open a few inches. It was ridiculous. We went inside and had the owner paged. He came out and when my husband asked him to move his car over, he started throwing all sorts of insults at him, calling him fat and stupid. He took it, but I was pissed. I want to haul off and break his tail light….. but then, that’s my rage issue….Unfortunately he parked elsewhere or his car door would have slipped when I opened it for him…. Ooopps. Don’t mess with a large feminist…. Not good!