I don’t know why, but I’ve been noticing a lot more than usual how negative women are about their bodies. I don’t think this is because I’ve started hanging around particularly negative people lately, I think it’s more to do with the fact that for whatever reason I have begun to notice it, where before I must have ignored it. After all, it’s endemic. If you stop and pay attention for that specifically you’ll start to hear women in the coffee shop, the elevator, the bathroom (especially the bathroom), etc. talk about how much they HATE some part of their body. Women hate their curly hair, their straight hair, their big noses, their small teeth, their fat ankles, their thick thighs, their non-existent butts, the wrinkles on their forehead, mouth, eyes, hands etc., etc., etc. I truly believe that if you listen long enough to enough women you will hear that there is at least one woman out there that hates every single part of the female body. I honestly don’t think there is a body part that will escape scrutiny, and that makes me sad.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely complained about my own body. For example, my ears don’t match. Seriously, they look completely different, like they’re from two totally different people. How does that even happen? As far as I know, ears are supposed to be a matched set, emphasis on matched! (Also, side note, do you have any idea how hard it is to take pictures of your own ears?)
I also have insanely long and skinny toes. They’ve been called everything from prehensile to gross, thank you to my sister for that one. Not to mention my feet are so narrow it’s impossible to find shoes that fit, so I always have redness or some sort of blister on my pinky toes that is impossible to hide when wearing sandals and always draws notice.
That being said, I don’t hate those things about myself. They are part of what make-up the quirky package that is Kat Michels, so how can I hate a part without eventually hating the whole? Let me say that again. How can you hate a part of yourself, without it eventually creeping in and causing a hatred of your whole self? Hate is an insidious thing, and if you give it purchase anywhere, it will eventually have purchase everywhere. So every time I hear a woman say that she hates some aspect of her appearance, it breaks my heart a little bit, because each utterance and each thought is a hammer blow on the chisel lodged in that woman’s self-worth. We as women determine our own self-worth, it comes from inside us. So every time we disparage ourselves, it gets chipped away a little bit.
I know that a lot of people will argue that they don’t actually ‘hate’ whatever body part it was that they mentioned. To them I ask, why do you say you do then? What do you actually mean if you don’t ‘hate’ it? Do you not like it, or do you wish it was different? How is that better? Why do we spend so much time fixating on the things that we don’t like? Especially things about our physical body that can’t be changed! How can you hate the wrinkles on your forehead? They are proof that you have gotten to spend time out in the sun – some of it hopefully in leisure – they are often times proof that you have smiled, sometimes they are proof that you were gravely ill, but were able to pull through, and they are irrevocable proof that you have lived long enough to get wrinkles. That is a privilege that is denied to so many, that I can’t understand where the hate comes from.
A similar argument can be made for any other body part that women hate, but better yet, let’s stop justifying things based on other people’s misfortunes. Let’s turn the focus on ourselves. Each and every body part, each aspect of our appearance makes up part of who we are. Yes, the total is greater than the sum of its parts, but the parts matter too. Not only do they matter, but how we talk about them to ourselves and to others matters. I truly believe that we need to learn to not only be nicer, but be more positive to ourselves. Instead of fixating on what we hate, we should be fixating on what we love, no matter how small. I’m not saying that you have to love each and every part of your body. That is asking way too much. But I have a feeling that if you shift your focus to the parts of you that you love, you’ll soon discover that those other parts of you all of a sudden don’t matter so much anymore. Because like hate, if you give love a place to roost, it will take over the whole damn place. And to me, that doesn’t sound too bad.
**It was brought to my attention that I should mention that I have not always felt this way or had this kind of confidence when it comes to my body. I spent all of middle and high school wishing that I could walk around with a paper bag over my head because my acne made me feel like I was hideous and gross. Even when I got to college and the acne was gone, I still didn’t have anything nice or complimentary to say about myself or my appearance. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties, with the guidance of a therapist and several years of persistent work to change my inner monologue, that I made it to where I am today.