Lay it all out there: Body Image

Welcome to the latest "series" on my blog - Lay it all out there. Anyone that knows me knows I've got a whole lot to say about a whole lot of things... and what better place to get it all off my chest than on my blog? This post lacks fun pictures and has some swearing. Consider yourself warned.

If you're on Facebook, chances are you've already seen the latest Dove Real Beauty campaign, which popped up in my newsfeed a solid 2 dozen times yesterday alone as women around the globe shared it with their networks. The "Real Beauty Sketches" social experiment takes normal women and has them describe themselves to a trained sketch artist, who draws them based on their own details of their hair, their nose, their chin. Later, someone else describes the same woman to the same artist, and he draws them again based on a total stranger's detailed account. Essentially, the women are able to see with side by side sketches that others see them as much more beautiful than they see themselves.

In other words - we're too damn hard on ourselves as women.

Just a little while after I watched the Dove campaign, I stumbled on a blog that I cannot believe I hadn't heard of sooner - Brittany, Herself. People - this chick is HYSTERICAL. Seriously. I could not stop giggling at, um, pretty much everything she says. She's witty and sarcastic and crude, and she swears like a sailor. Major girl crush alert over here.

What's important about me finding Brittany's site though, is that the post I saw was about body image, confidence and feeling good about yourself as a woman in general. From what I've read so far, it sounds like Brittany has struggled a bit with her weight and being 30-something... but as she's getting older she's starting to realize (like me and I assume lots of other women our age) that IT DOESN'T (fucking) MATTER. The things that I've been self-conscious about for as long as I can remember do NOT make me who I am. My acne and my ridiculously small boobs and my glasses and my big front teeth and my lack of curves in general do NOT define me. The asswipe that called me "board chest" straight through my freshman year of high school does NOT deserve to impact the way I feel about myself. The built-like-a-linebacker girl that picked on me because I was pint-sized and scrawny is NOT worth the fear I still feel when I see her out at a restaurant.

But why have these things been such an issue for so long with women? Brittany puts it perfectly:

"...I don't give a fuck what you think about my body. Keep it to yourself, or don't, if that's what you need. If in your mind you need me to feel about myself the way you feel about yourself, because that makes it hurt less, so be it.... it's girls and women who are better crafted for emotional terrorism. Slicing away at the achilles until our victims are left feeling completely devoid of value and unfit for love, friendship, or in extreme cases, air. And them something catastrophic occurs and we all sit around shaking our heads wondering, how did this happen? How did we get here? This is how. Knock it the fuck off."

In other words - we as women, as a species, WE are the reason we are all so damn self-conscious about every. little. part. of our bodies. We spend so much time criticizing ourselves and every other person around us that everything turns into a competition, a game, a way to knock someone else down so we feel better ourselves. And that, my friends, is so incredibly not worth it.

There's a popular Tina Fey quote that goes like this:

"Every girl is expected to have caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish lets, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old-boy, the arms of Michelle Obama and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes. Everyone else is struggling."

Well then. It's been ingrained in all of our heads for so long that there is this standard of beauty that we have to live up to, and really, it's freaking impossible so let's just get over it, shall we?

I'll be the first to admit I have a long way to go in this battle both with the way I see myself and the way I see others. I roll my eyes and disagree 9 times out of 10 when the hubs says something sweet about how I look, and I've got a mean bitchy streak that is chock full of snarky comments about other women that I don't like that often revolve around saying something mean about their body thanks to all of the people I grew up with that gave me hell about my body image. But that's not what it's about, is it? A woman's weight or hair or clothes aren't why I don't like them. It's their attitudes and actions. And chances are that at least some of the time, the attitudes or actions of the women I don't like are a result of them being insulted by some other woman at some other point in their life so they got all defensive and developed their own bitchy streak... and it is a ridiculous and disgusting vicious cycle that we have GOT to break.

Obviously, it's up to us as individual women to make a pledge to ourselves to pull a Brittany and decide that we don't care what others think about our bodies anymore and make an effort to stop slamming other women in the meantime. So, consider this my public declaration that I'm over it, and I'm working on making a change. It'll take time and major effort, but I think with women like Brittany and Tina Fey and companies like Dove guiding us and reminding us that there is a better way... it's possible.