thoughts on body image, girl bonding, and tearing ourselves down.

We’ve all been there. At lunch with a friend, in the school parking lot, at the mall. And then someone makes a comment about how fat she is. And we all rush to reassure her… by pointing out our own flaws. Look at my thighs. My hips. My stomach. Look at the pimples on my face, the scars on my legs, the flab on my arms. 

Well, I’m looking, and I have this to say: They’re beautiful. You’re beautiful. 

I always wonder why, when someone points out a so-called flaw, the immediate response, if you’re a woman, is to offer reassurance by pointing out your own instead of assuring the other person they’re fine the way they are. I’ve never seen a bunch of boys say, oh, look at me, my muscles aren’t big enough! (To be fair, boys have body image problems of their own, but since talking about those will lead us in another direction altogether I’m going to stick with us girls for now.) 

Sometimes I look in the mirror, and my reaction is, hey, she’s cute! And then, a voice inside my head tells me, shh, don’t talk like that, it’s arrogant, it’s vain, you’re nothing special with your dark skin and your non-model features and your excess pounds.

Well, you know something? Screw you, voice. I am beautiful. I am beautiful with my dark skin and my glasses and my hair that will never behave and my spare tires. And so is everyone else.

I wonder if it’s part of our socialization as women, to tear ourselves down rather than build ourselves up. To say, look at me, I am just like you, I have flaws too, I am not a threat. To find common ground in our weaknesses rather than in our strengths. To continue the vicious cycle that tells us we’re not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough, good enough.

Well, it stops now. The next time someone says ‘Oh my God, I’m so fat!’ I’m not going to talk about how I could stand to lose a few pounds too.

I’m going to tell them they’re perfect just the way they are.

Because it’s true.