So, for those of you who don't obsessively read the comments (it's ok, although you're missing out!), a little update: a comment by the illustrious Miss CripChick on my BADD post has been leading to a sub-discussion of, among other things, body love.
to have women and girls take that brave step to share their stories, break the hold these perceptions have and ultimately reveal to those who share and to those who view this site - you are not alone.
And a lot of the stories that people are sharing are incredibly painful. I'm picking excerpts here that I think are illustrative but least likely to be triggering; still, if you are likely to be distressed by depictions of ED, don't read the excerpts ***preceded by asterisks.
***Next came the diet doctor. I remember my mother bringing me and the doctor taking my "before" picture. Every week I went, got pills, weighed and had a little question and answer session with the doc. One of the answers I can recall was, "if you eat from a pig, you'll look like a pig." His name was Dr. Repp in West Philadelphia. Needless to say, when I passed out one day my mother threw the pills down the toilet and I didn't go back to Dr. Repp. I think I weighed 150 lbs when I started with him; I recall losing 10 lbs in one week.
I have hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars worth of tattoos on my body. I am more proud of them than anything else, but just once I want somebody to say "Oh, she would be so pretty if it weren't for all of those tattoos" instead of complimenting them. I have them so people look at the tattoos instead of looking at me, I want somebody to really see me someday, and think that I'm beautiful. Maybe someday I'll stop putting beautiful things on my body and actually believe that my body is what's beautiful.
***I am standing in front of my boyfriend, naked. He is staring at me. I don't know what he is seeing. Appreciation? Awe? Disgust? He turns away. He hands me his tee shirt. So you don't get cold, he says. I turn away. Do you think I'm fat? I ask the carpet. No. I think you are too skinny. I can see your veins beneath your skin. He doesn't know what's important. He doesn't know what this means to me. He thinks girls should be big and curvy, and I think I should disappear.
Or simply, from "Age 24":
I'm a feminist, a confident woman, an advocate for body positivity - and it takes a man telling me I'm beautiful for me to believe it. I make myself sick.
Heavy stuff. But there's some hope there - some stories, not just about women with "perfect bodies" unquestioningly accepting that definition and bragging about it (though, hell, it would be nice to love one's body uncomplicatedly, wouldn't it?), but about women with variable types of human bodies and how they came to love them. And these, I think everyone should read:
That said, here is what I have deprogrammed. Mother said my lips were big; I know they aren't. In fact, I think I have a beautiful mouth. Mother said my legs were fat, like tree trunks; my legs aren't small, but they're not fat either. I have the same legs as my Dad, my brothers, and 2 of my 3 children. They are solid Italian legs, but not fat. My mother's people have skinny legs. I almost like my legs. Mother told me that my butt was big. I am very proportionate. Mother said my hair was too straight and she was always putting perms in it. I love my hair. I've put back the red (strawberry blond) I had as a child. I think my hair is very, very pretty. I love my eyes; they are strikingly attractive.
I think I started to be less ashamed of my body when I dropped my long hair and got my gigantic mohawk. Suddenly everyone around was complimenting me. They said things like, we love your hair, it looks like the sun. I felt powerful with my hair spiked out to look like it could kill someone. The mohawk is long gone but the feeling of confidence in being visible is still there.
And I love my body. I really do. I walk around in my apartment naked and whenever I see myself in the bathroom mirror I smile and look at how long my armpit hair is getting. Sometimes I feel like a five-year-old, sitting in the bathtub poking at my belly and thinking of how it's like a flotation device. I'll never drown.
Gravity and hot flashes have begun to take their toll, but I still love my body. It is strong and healthy, hasn't failed me yet and has given life and nourishment to three wonderful children. The miracles of the workings of the human body are often taken for granted and shouldn't be. Watch a woman wrestle with news that the pregnancy being carried won't have 10 fingers and 10 toes and one has a new respect for the miracle of conception and embryonic development. Watch that child grow and learn and beat the odds of her birth and prognosis and in the end we are each a miracle in our own right. A few pounds, curves, or lack of either do not form our soul, our heart or our unique contribution to this world we live in.
Now, I understand, objectively, why this particular site is geared toward women - so for those of you who either:
- identify as women
- have found your body image significantly influenced by being perceived as women (and thus held to women's body standards, rightly or wrongly)
... I encourage you to submit to the Body Image Project.
But we here at Quench have a little more flexibility in our gender policy (... and, um, in our genders, most of us) - so I'd like to encourage any of y'all, of any gender, to comment here as well. I'll ask the same question they ask there:
(... my own answer upcoming, when I'm not in class!)