Last week I went out for Chinese with a couple friends, and over lots of laughs and copious amounts of crab Rangoon, we somehow got into talking about what we and our siblings looked like as babies. After one of my friends showed me a picture of her roly poly, Michelin-Man like new baby nephew, I said that he reminded me of my sister. My sister, I said, was the same: A chunky, happy rolls on rolls baby who eventually grew up to be this beautiful, athletic and skinny as heck blonde. Me, on the other hand I told her, I was so skinny as a kid that the doctor once told my Mom I needed more fat in my diet. But now? I joked to my friend, “But now look at me haha I’m obviously having no problems with that.”
And then my friend stopped me and gave me a look like I was crazy. “Wait, Cailin, what do you mean, you’re still skinny.”
And I didn’t know what to say back because no, I don’t look in the mirror and see skinny. Or fat, actually, I just see whatever the heck I am.
I’d be willing to bet that most women my age, if not beyond, have a tendency to lookin the mirror and at least find one thing about themselves they don’t like. I mean, it’s why we look in mirrors in the first place right? To look for flaws, to make ourselves look ‘better’, see if we’ve missed a stray hair or a random effing pimple popped up.(UGH)
But let me throw some stats at you:
Firstly, the average U.S. woman is 5’4” and weighs 140 pounds whereas the average U.S. model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds.
Now 5’4” and 140 pounds is a healthy weight, ladies and gents (standard BMI is 24.0 and a healthy weight rests between 18.5-24.9). But that average model? She is severely underweight at a BMI of 16.3. A normal adult for that height should be between 130 and 179 pounds!! I don’t know about you but I’m with Jennifer Lawrence on that whole thing of there’s a lot of things that taste better than skinny feels. I don’t want to be a tall and starving artist, thank you. I like my ice-cream, my bacon, and my closer center of gravity to the ground.
But here’s the real kicker: 44% of women who are average or underweight think they are overweight. (Rowland, H. (n.d.). Obsessed with thin: has the media gone too far?. Hilary Fashion, Retrieved from http://www.hilary.com/fashion/bikini.html)
What the beepity beep beep, right? That means nearly half of the women in this study looked in a mirror and saw themselves tubbier even though they were fine. How can that be, that nearly half of us, including myself, see something completely different than what is real? Has this always been or is it something that’s developed through advertising? Or is advertising just playing into our own wants and needs?
In any case, those two stats alone were enough to make me stop criticizing myself for a moment and think, Wow, I’m doing okay then. I feel healthy, I still get my crab Rangoon, and I don’t have to feel bad about it???? What a positively freeing feeling!
Too often, I know I forget that old adage: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To a supermodel, I’d probably look like this frumpster from the sticks. To a woman struggling with obesity, I might look like a goal. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter what other people think when they see us, it matters what we think when we see ourselves. So now I have a card taped to my bathroom mirror to remind me that it doesn’t matter if one day I feel fat, another skinny, another frumpy. It’s there to remind me that it’s not enough to believe others when they tell me I’m worth something, I have to keep believing it on my own.
“I have a brilliant heart and a beautiful mind. I am ME, a perfectly flawed, beautyFULL work in progress. Every time I look in the mirror, I’ll remind myself that I’m not alone, that I’m beautiful, that my voice matters, and that I am enough.-I Am That Girl
Feel free to come up with your own encouraging words of wisdom 🙂 Keep it classy.