I have never been so self-conscious of my weight as I have been the past few years. And after reading all the comment threads and discussion a few weeks back regarding some contestant on The Biggest Loser, I am petrified people look at me the same way some of you were shredding that woman.
Bulimic...anorexic...gross...unhealthy...she has a problem...she obviously has an eating disorder...are some of the nicer comments left on every Facebook status, Twitter reply and article written about her. None of us know this woman. Maybe underneath the emotional baggage she carried around as weight was the truth- that she is a thin woman. Maybe she worked her ass off to rid herself of everything she has been carrying around and within minutes of revealing her hard work, a majority of people attacked her. Or maybe she went to the extremes and teetered dangerously close to crossing the line between healthy and unhealthy.
Like you, I don't know this woman or the reasons behind her dramatic weight loss. What I do know is I am (in a sense) her; and when you attacked her with those negative and nasty comments, you attacked me.
I am 5'4 and weight 105lbs. Her height, her weight. I am not bulimic. I am not anorexic. I am an almost 35-year old woman who is a mother and lover of all things food. I eat healthy food. I eat unhealthy food. I eat a balanced diet. I eat an unbalanced diet. I don't have any exercise routine but I do spend my day making sure my five kids are happy, taken care, of, at sports practice on time and go to bed every night feeling loved.
I have lost around 35lbs in recent years. I have seen doctors, had tests done and told nothing is wrong with me. I hate talking about my weight which has become a constant topic of discussion. I hate always thinking about my weight because I can never escape the constant presence of the topic. Family worries that I look too thin. Friends ask what's my secret for losing the weight. Women who don't know me stare. Constant battles over body image are an unavoidable presence on the internet.
This crazy thing happens to you when you lose weight without having done a thing to actually lose it. Having never altered my eating habits or exercise, I never changed my mindset of who I was- a woman who wore a size 8 and yeah, should probably be exercising every now and again. I now have to shop the children's and juniors sections if I want to find clothes that fit. Yet my mindset still struggles to see a woman who is thin. And that's not saying that I don't realize am I am small. I know this. Believe me. I can't escape this realization.
How a woman feels about herself is centered around her body image. One positive or negative comment she hears can alter how she lives her life. How a woman perceives herself when she looks in the mirror is based solely on her inner voice. Body image has become an inescapable black hole of do this, don't eat that, look this way, don't buy that product. Those who are overweight are chastised because of a number on a scale. Those who are thin are show-offs for posting pictures of themselves with abs and gym equipment behind them. We have become a mean-spirited, my opinion is better than yours society of mean-girls who, instead of supporting another's accomplishments, set out to destroy those who do not think or look like themselves.
One of the hardest things I deal with is accepting when I put on a few pounds. My weight is in constant fluctuation between 105 and 109lbs. I gain four pounds leading up to my period and like ANY WOMAN, hates that bloated, ugh feeling the added pounds cause. My stomach gets bloated thanks to ridiculous amount of crap I cannot stop shoving in my face when PMSing. I hate it. I feel gross. Yet I silently suffer instead of bitching about it to friends because OMG! Shut up. You're not allowed to be complaining about having a fat day. Right. I forgot. I'm skinny, which means anything I say regarding weight is not valid...even if this is my reality:
I realize I am thin and excuse me if I want to complain that I feel fat today. Excuse me for being thin and chiming in on a conversation regarding women's body image, one always assumed I've never had to deal with. The truth is, I deal with it every single day. I deal with the assumptions, the looks, the stares. And then I deal with the questions and compliments. It's a mind-fuck of emotion that I deal with Every. Single. Day. So yes, I do in fact know first hand what carefully balancing one's self-conscious feelings against one's body image feels like.
What people need to start realizing is the constant bombardment of thin, fat, and political correctness is not doing anything to change the body image discussion. Complaining that a company, movie, song or toy is ruining our young girls by marketing thinness is not the issue. The issue is us. We are the one's labeling our fellow female neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers as categories instead of highlighting individual achievements, accomplishments and positive traits. We are the one's judging other's without knowing them, their situations, or backgrounds. We are the one's who continually categorize females into two categories: thin or fat.
Like anything in this world, being thin or overweight has extremes and some individuals have crossed into the level where words like bulimic, anorexic or obese need to be brought into the discussion. But there is a very definite difference between thin and anorexic, overweight and obese. And us women- the one's being scrutinized- are also the one's throwing our bra wearing comrades under the bus.
You want to change the way society judges women and their bodies? Change starts with all of us. We need to stop the negative, claws fully extended assault toward other women. We need to stop labeling, categorizing and assuming. We must stop blaming others for the damage we are causing our fellow comrades.
We are the women our daughters see categorizing other women more than they notice a Barbie being a big-boobed doll. We are the person our daughters look up to, admire, watch and mimic. It is us women who must take the reigns and stop the shaming of another's body image because the number on a scale is too high or too low. We are the one's who must stop talking about a number and start highlighting happiness, acceptance, gratitude and love.
I am Dani...a woman who is more than a number on a scale...a woman who refuses to judge another because of their number on a scale...a woman who is sick of talking about weight...a woman who is over caring about what others think of her...a woman who is proud to look at herself in the mirror...a woman who still has girly days of self-doubt and bloating...a woman who is sick and tired of being categorized.