Great Expectations : The Body Issue

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I was going through Freshly Pressed when I came across a blog about fashion for fat women. Or rather, the lack of it. I’ll admit I’m no size zero. I never want to be either. But I cannot begin to explain the number of times I’ve heard someone say to me, “Lose the weight. It’s unhealthy;  you’ll look pretty if you do.”

recently sat down with someone who has been cajoling me to lose weight for years and I explained to her, “I understand you have a problem with my body and even though it makes no sense, I accept that you’re not very happy with it. But here’s the thing – I’m ok being me. I do NOT feel the need to lose weight. This is who I am, I can accept it and maybe it’s time for you to do so too.”

She didn’t understand what the heck I was saying. Because – How can someone be ok with being fat?! With not being a size 0-5? I mean, that’s just unhealthy and awkward and not nice to look at.

Now, I can agree that being FAT is unhealthy. I emphasize that word because it is not a disgrace to use it. But being skinny isn’t exactly a celebration. Size zero used to be what is now a size 4. Or maybe even a 6. The concept of thin is no longer thin but just bones. There was a time when the model walking the ramp looked absolutely stunning. Now they all look sick. So why is the world not looking at it the other way around? Instead of pointing at heavier women and asking them to lose weight, why not tell the skinny models to gain a few pounds? Ask them to stop giving young girls an unrealistic vision of beauty? Why does the cover girl have a photoshopped thigh gap? Why do we still pay to read about her?

I want you to imagine the first day of high school as a fat kid. Someone who’s used to being who she is. Someone who loves herself. Walks into the world where other girls her age start dating and wearing make-up. She walks into the exact same store her classmates shop from, but she can’t find anything in her size that doesn’t look like something her mother would wear. So she has to wear a baggy sweater and weird looking pants and hang her head when her best friend ditches her out of embarrassment. She gets bullied, pushed into lockers, mocked behind her back – I assure you these are the kids that end up with eating disorders or mental issues that make them want to hurt themselves. The confident girl that held her head high, at the end of four years, walks with her shoulders slouched, hiding her face in shame. A shame we as a society allowed to be thrust upon her. Because someone somewhere did not realize that a size ten girl would love to be just as fashionable as a size 1 girl.

The little things matter no matter what size we are. A therapist once asked me, “If there is a job interview with two eligible finalists, do you think they would pick the fat one or the skinny one? You have to lose weight, sweetheart.” That ‘sweetheart’ made no sense because I’d just lost all hope of a bright future.

There are ways to handle situations. Calling someone fat does not make them want to become thin. It makes them want to vanish. You’re worried about their health? Talk to them about eating healthy – not losing weight. Never make someone feel ugly – always remember everyone’s concept of beauty is different. For all you know, that person might just be the nicest one you’ll ever meet.

This is not a social issue or a health topic. This is about someone’s emotions. During 4th grade, my friend and I bought similar outfits. We wore it to school on the same day. A kid I didn’t even know walked up to me and said, “It looks better on her. She’s thin. You should wear something that doesn’t make you look so ugly.” I will never forget that moment in my life. I felt hurt, upset and disappointed with myself. Today, I love and accept who I am. I know that the rude comment the kid passed didn’t speak of my flaws. It spoke of his and how he was raised to be mannerless and disrespectful. But that little girl who wore her favorite blue dress to school will never forget the day a stranger called her ugly.

From fancy clothes to seats on buses and the world of dating, a fat person is always an outcast. Mocking them, bringing them down and telling them they’re ugly is not the way to show you care. Do we even have to talk about the number of people that turn to medication and have complications because of social and peer pressure?! Talk to them, learn how they feel. If they honestly feel comfortable with who they are, let them be.

And to the person on the receiving end,

Never let someone bully you for who you are or how you look. While I will advise you to eat healthy, I will also assure you, that size zero girl on the cover of a fashion magazine? That’s half sick and half photoshop. It’s a camouflage created by an industry that is filled with hypocrites and head weighted arrogant designers that do not believe a size 15 can pull of a halter – low dip – neckline just as well as the skinny one, if not better. Never give into someone else’s great expectation. Love yourself.

“Because if you don’t, then who will, sweetie?”

– Marilyn Monroe


Your Advertisement Tells Me I’m Ugly

I always told myself, one day I’ll start a campaign against this. If not for me, for those who might watch these ads and convince themselves that they are ugly without it.

Have you ever seen the ads that say,

 “Use this to have long and luscious lashes.”

“Erase away the black spots and pimples that  make you not want to show your face.”

“Smell like a goddess, he’ll be all over you.”

“This lip color, it’ll make you look very very sexy.”

I read such things and I think to myself, ‘So you’re telling me that without all this, no man would want me? That when I get a zit, if I don’t erase it, I shouldn’t show my face out in the world even though it is something that is unbelievably natural and happens to almost every human being on the planet?’

Spending millions of dollars for these unrealistic versions of beauty created with a team of artists and designers that photoshop every part of the person’s face and airbrush it until it looks utterly flawless to convince me that unless I buy that product my face will look ugly with black spots, zits and freckles – I’ll be the first to say I’ve never seen a beauty product advertisement that works on boosting your self-esteem because if you feel pretty without it, they don’t have a market to sell to.

When I asked someone to define beauty advertisements, she gave me one word. “Deceptive.” Oh how I wish I could disagree.. not really.

I’ll be very honest here. I’ve been bitten. I use make-up almost on an everyday basis. But I still have those moments when I look in the mirror and think, ‘Is there a chance that I look better without it? More me? Then I go back to using it because I have bought into the fact that maybe my lashes are too short, my eyes are too deep set and my lips are not luscious. How will the man I love, love me back if I don’t look like the model he gazes at on the cover of the magazine in the newsstand on the road side store on his way to work every morning ?!

Her skin is smooth, her hair so shiny and her eyes so sparkly. I want to wear what she’s wearing so maybe I can look a bit like her and he will see in me what he sees in her. But do I ever stop long enough to notice that he sees in her a woman he wants for a night while I want to be the woman he holds for life? No, because the colored eye liner, the perfect eye palette and the spf180 lip balm have occupied every little part of my brain exactly the way the person who put that perfectly altered photograph of the woman on that cover wanted it to and I have lost control over feeling like I need to get rid of those dark circles that are there from working all night, feeling the need to never have a dry skin moment and oh, have I mentioned the setting spray that gave me a face allergy ?!

Don’t even get me started on the sales assistant who stops me at the shampoo aisle and says “Ma’am, some moisturizers? Dry skin cream?” and I start to feel incredibly self-conscious, wondering if my face looks too dry and she’s pointing it out. Then I get sucked in with three different products and a face wash that I do not use.

Then the “fairness” and “whitening” advertisements. Oh nobody cares, nobody looks at her, nobody gave her a job. Then she uses the product for a few weeks and OMG ! She’s so hot, she’s so pretty and everybody wants to give her the job ! Can we stop for a moment and re-think the stupidity of that ad? If you can only get your life going if your skin is white, President Obama would not have won. Twice.

I used to be that kid that hated the word make-up. Now, I have more products than anyone else in my family. So, give me the opportunity to be over dramatic and say, “It’s too late for me, but please. Go save yourself !”

Because that man that loves you, he’ll love you no matter what. He’ll find the freckles adorable and understand that pimples are a part of natural beauty. He’ll love you for how he feels with you and not what he sees on you. Honestly, try a first date without any make-up. If he’s The One, he’s going to see you like that more often than not.

That job you want so desperately, it’s yours if you have what it takes. And I do not mean two hundred shades of eye liner and the perfect mascara. If you land a job because the boss finds you attractive, know that sooner than later you’re going to be suing him for physical harassment and at that point, don’t tell me it was shocking. You and I both knew it was coming.

Advertising a product is very important. I’m a mass communication student, I can understand it. But making me feel so bad about myself so you can make more money to create more products for which you will make more ads that will make me feel even worse, now that should be a crime.

I have one last thing to say to you, the one who’s reading this. You are absolutely stunningly beautiful just the way you are. I promise. Keep your beautiful heart and you’ll never have an ugly day in your life.