From the ages of 10 to 20, nearly every woman I met would comment on my appearance, either praising me or hating me for having a slim figure. As the years went by, such comments were oftentimes followed by orders to eat more, or overt criticism of my “chicken legs.”
As the media became more inclusive, slogans like “REAL women have curves” and “men like something to grab onto” were all over my feed, planting the seeds of my body dysmorphia.
I by no means claim that curvy, busty girls have it easy, and skinny girls are the new victims. I am simply one of the hushed voices sharing my experience. I cannot tell you how many times I tried to share my own bodily insecurities, only to be shut down because “I was lucky enough to have been born with a fast metabolism.”
The thing is, I was never satisfied with my body. I never wanted a thigh-gap, nor for my ribcage to show. The negative comments affected me because I wasn’t at ease in my own skin. I looked up to women like Shakira, Beyonce, and Monica Bellucci; forever wishing for an hourglass figure like theirs. I didn’t like my elongated, skinny legs. I, too, fell for the real woman ideal.
So I did everything I could to try to bulk up, and for the past six years, I have tried every carb-loaded diet I could find to gain as many pounds it would take for me to look curvier. It took me six years to be able to look in the mirror, and be somewhat satisfied with the woman staring back.
Almost a month ago, yours truly spent an insane amount of money at a monetary sinkhole called WINNERS, as a sort of “retail therapy.” Among the many knick-knacks I purchased were two pairs of pants, both different sizes, and both fit me perfectly. One pair was a size 4, the other a size 6, and to add to my confusion, I was walking around in size 8 jeans. I understand a woman’s weight fluctuates between one day and the next, but this was just mind-boggling, and certainly didn’t appease my mind.
Such retail “mishaps,” if we wish to call them, are not uncommon. Every woman I have had the pleasure to converse in such topics with shared the same problem, and the majority of them suffer from severe body image problems.
I would also like to mention that I absolutely do not think such issues are limited to the female population, and acknowledge that men also deal with the same demons.
Earlier this year, 18-year-old Chloe Martin shared a picture of seven pairs of jeans on Twitter, all size 12, looking entirely different, with a caption that reads “Incase you’ve ever wondered why women get so frustrated with our clothing sizes – every pair of jeans pictured, is a size 12.
Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet, a website discussing retailing, business and consumer behavior, told today.com that Martin’s photo is “also indicative of the fashion industry’s pervasive and unhealthy attempts to tell women how their bodies should ideally be proportioned.”
I would like to think that one day, we will all overcome this constant obsession with our figures, and be able to live our lives without this crippling anxiety of fitting into one given size. Unfortunately, all I can do is hope.
Graphic/photo by @sundaeghost/Laurence B.D.