I received an email this week from my friend, Yves Sturdevant. To me, Yves is a strikingly beautiful person. In my mind, she looks like a model walking around in a “Let’s Put the Fun Back into Funerals” t-shirt. I have been guilty of being one of those people who thought “she’s thin, she’s pretty, what could she possibly know about body image issues?” Well, unfortunately, it turns out she knows plenty. I never realized when you are thin, people question if you are sick, or assume you are anorexic.
If you too have been guilty about thinking skinny girls have it made, check out the post below. It is a personal email, not a painstakingly written essay, but she made such good points, I felt I had to post it.
And if you should ever happen to get the chance, check out her belly dancing troupe, The Luddites. They are spectacular and gorgeous and a perfect example of beauty coming in all kinds of packages.
I think the lines in terms of health get blurred with women and body size. It is assumed if you are thin you are healthy. Eating right is about treating yourself with care and self love, and has nothing to do with how one looks in their clothing.
I have always felt insecure about being too skinny. No amount of working out or eating right is ever going to give me boobs, or a butt. If anything it just makes me more stick like. Not only am I not shapely, but I also have cellulite, stretch marks and lots of flab. It’s just how I am made. We see super skinny models in the media, but those women are like 7 ft tall and have these perfect dimensions that like 2 percent of women on earth are born with. The rest of us are compared against that standard, and it’s not fair to any to have to go up against that. And those women are really only media worthy for about 5 years, once they hit their late 20’s their bodies don’t fit the mold anymore.
If you are built like me, with no real hour glass figure, who has to wear bras just to give the impression of breasts, who hears things like “real women have curves,” you can experience that as hurtful. In many ways you can’t feel comfortable expressing it to anyone because all you will be met with is “you’re skinny. What is your problem?” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from men in my relationships the mention of “I dont mean this in a bad way…” or “I wasnt going to say anything, but…” in regard to my breast size. In regard to my flabby flat butt. In regard to not having a waist. My ex-boyfriend used to tell me I was weird because I was fat but skinny. Because I am thin, but what meat I have is very flabby. He would watch porn with large breasted women because he felt like that was where he could get that need met.
One time, in a belly dance class, we watched a movie called American Belly Dancer. In the film, a well known internationally renowned belly dance instructor said, “no one wants to look at a skinny belly dancer.” In a lot of ways she is right. A curvy belly dancer, a curvy woman, is way more sexy and beautiful and easier to look at. I love seeing bellydancers with something to jiggle. It is beautiful and amazing and perfect. I’ve always known that in my head no one likes a bony bellydancer, but to hear it said out loud was kind of solidifying and painful. To hear the other women in class say, “thats right! real women have curves!” was hurtful too. I didn’t feel I had the right to protest, as I would be met with the “shut up! You are skinny! What are you complaining about” defense, negating any feelings I may have.
I don’t expect anyone to feel sorry for me when it comes to my body issues. They are all mostly self imposed. I know if it’s not weight I’m dealing with that my issues then come across as stupid, petty, or meaningless. But I have to fight the battle that all women in our culture do too, it is just different.
I’ve heard some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known, the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen, complain about their bodies. All I can do is wonder, what happened in our society, that these amazingly beautiful and magnificent woman can’t feel good about what they have? If you have curves, you are told to watch your weight, if you don’t have a curves you are told you aren’t a real woman. If you are skinny people think you are a bitch if you express insecurities. There is some kind of twisted concept that eating bacon mayonnaise sandwiches and rallying your heart and vascular system is totally fine as long as you maintain a certain dress size. But if you don’t, oooh you better watch what you eat. There seems to be some kind of automatic focus on how one looks and not how healthy one is.
I read a study recently on peer groups in elementary life. 400 elementary aged children were being interviewed, each of them were asked what was the best thing about being a boy, what the best thing about being a girl. They were also asked if they liked being a boy or a girl, and if they would rather be the other gender. There was an overwhelmingly positive response from the little boys, just short of 100 percent of the boys loved being boys and would not want to be a girl. The reasons listed as why they loved being boys were being good at athletics, being strong, being fast. The reasons the boys listed for not wanting to be girls were because of periods, and having to clean houses, not being strong, and fear of being attacked by men when they grew up. What broke my heart was only little over half of the girls said they were happy with being girls. Almost all of the girls listed appearance, (when asked what the best part of being a girl was), as the best thing about being a girl. Being able to wear pretty dresses, being able to fix their hair, one day wear make up. It broke my heart to read that. We start right out of the gate focusing on how we look.
Oh man, there is this picture floating around Facebook- a split screen, one half has some obviously anorexic, possibly cracked-out starlet in a bikini, and the other half a glowing image of Marylin Monroe. There is a big yellow arrow pointing at the obviously anorexic starlet saying “society says we are supposed to like this,” and something like “what happened to the time when women were supposed to look like this” with an arrow pointing to Marylin Monroe’s image. This infuriates me beyond words. Obviously the starlet has some kind of psychosis related eating disorder, no doubt caused by long term exposure to media images- such as the one she is now featured in with a giant arrow pointing to her head illustrating her as an example of unattractiveness. Not to mention being compared to one of the most beautiful women in history- who not only falls into that category of looking like what only one percent of all humanity will ever look like, but also was riddled with her own insecurities, addictions and severe depression. Just the thought that women are “supposed” to look like anyone pisses me off.