She’s Not “Fat,” She’s Your Sister
Courtesy of the Well Read Hostess
I did an insane thing this morning. I got up at 4:15, which is ludicrous all by itself, especially if you know me and my, uh, affection for sleep. I had to eat something by 4:30 so I could get to my morning “bootcamp” workout at 5. Five. 1, 2, 3, 4…5. In the morning.
It hurt. But that’s not the point. The point is that I was all aflutter ahead of time worrying about how I’d measure up to the other people in this bootcamp. Literally. How would my measurements compare to theirs. But also figuratively, how would my ability and stamina measure up to theirs. You see, I’ve rather perfected the art of being self-conscious.
I’m there in this room, with these people – some of whom were visibly fit and lithe and muscley and some of whom were less visibly fit and not so lithe but quite muscley and some of whom appeared sorta fit and were terrifically lithe but not even remotely muscley, and any other variation of fitness, litheness, and muscley-ness you can contrive, and I catch myself nodding my head – it’s early so people don’t pay attention to the newbie talking to herself and nodding her head in the corner – and going “Yep. Right. This is how it is.”
I always forget that women’s bodies are all so different. If you look at magazines or watch TV or go to movies, you could easily forget that point. When we’re all covered up in our clothes, it’s also harder to tell, especially if we’ve squeezed, manipulated, or mashed our bodies into garments that either don’t fit or are designed to squeeze, manipulate, or mash. But at the gym, ain’t no hiding nothing.
Recently, I saw that someone on one of the vast and varied social networking sites out there on the Internet posted a picture of a stranger in a bathing suit, the photo presumably taken on vacation. A caption commenting on how unattractive the woman looked – not exactly in those terms, but the point was clear – because of her size accompanied the photo. I don’t know either of these people, the photographer or the photographee, so who knows what was going through anybody’s head on this particular day, except for mine. What was going through my head was, “How miserable must a person be with her own life that she has to tear down the physical appearance of a perfect stranger.” And it bugged me all day, that photo and why it was up there on that site.
Aren’t we, women, hard enough on ourselves about the way we look? Aren’t we, women, supposed to be “in this together,” trying to raise ourselves and our daughters to believe that what we look like isn’t the basis upon which we should be judged? Aren’t we, women, so terrifically self-conscious about our own physical flaws that we should be making sure other women know that their own don’t mean anything except that we are all different? Aren’t we, women, all doing our best with the hand that life and genetics has dealt us and couldn’t we use support and encouragement and understanding and acceptance?
I’m as guilty as the next person of being critical, sometimes I feel justified and civil and sometimes not. I’m not proud of that, and I’m going to try harder. Out of the ten people I shared the gym with this morning, only one of them looks like she’d be smokin’ hot in a bikini (hint: not me), but I left there feeling great (actually, I left there feeling like I might puke and probably needed one of those Hoverounds to get through the rest of the day) about myself and what my body and mind can do, even at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. You might see me at the pool one day and think, “Yikes. Not so great in that there bathing suit,” but that’s your problem, not mine.