It’s hard to be a woman.
No, not just the constant threat of sexual violence against women or the fear that is ingrained into our DNA. It’s not just the catcalling and the uncomfortable and almost always unwarranted advances.
More often than not, it’s the consistent and debilitating pressure from our culture to look and behave a certain way. For so long, this mentality was easy enough to hide from. It’s not difficult to understand that the ads we see in magazines or on billboards are heavily photoshopped. When we’re old enough to understand self-love the women before us always teach us that the industries targeting us aren’t representing us.
What’s not easy to understand though is when this idealized reality trickles down into our own feeds.
Every day I scroll through my feeds on Instagram and Facebook, even Twitter, and I’m constantly bombarded with the newest weight loss technique. The latest “detox” or the quick fix shake. I see people that I know and love, and regard highly, reducing themselves to one thing: their external appearance.
For so long, I laughed it off. I joked with my friends about the ridiculous and scripted messages I get from people that I know trying to sell me a new product. But I’ve come to realize this is part of a much deeper cultural problem that has permeated through even the people we know personally, not just some corporation selling the “next best thing,” with airbrushed photographs.
“Get rid of that extra belly fat!” they say as if there’s your entire life should revolve around your appearance.
This summer has been difficult for me in terms of self-love. Not because I don’t love myself, but because I am constantly challenged by the things I see on my feeds. Every time I see a “before and after” picture from someone looking to make a quick buck, I start to wonder, am I doing something wrong? Am I “less than” because I’m not always posting pictures of my healthy meals and working out 30 minutes twice a day?
Being healthy is a two-part job. Physical health is important but if your mind isn’t in the right place–I would go so far as to say the physical health doesn’t even matter.
There’s a dangerous message being circulated, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, that when we’re “skinny” or “fit,” suddenly all of our problems will go away. That when we drink this shake and complete this fitness program to lose a little extra weight, suddenly everything else will fall into place. It’s promoting working out, not being truly healthy in all forms of the word.
It’s focusing so much on the problem that has plagued women for generations, our bodies. It’s perpetuating the cyclic violence we inflict upon OURSELVES by refusing to acknowledge that as real, human women, we are not made to be perfect. We come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors and that is perfect, no matter the context. Find your own healthy and your own beautiful, not someone else’s paid subscription to self-love.
And for the love of all things holy, stop trying to sell me your weight loss program.