I am a blogger. I write.
I also model.
Yesterday a boy from the high school I went to posted a link about the dangers of being too skinny in reaction to a photo spread and interview I was featured in.
He was blatantly referencing my body.
I could make this article in defense of my healthy BMI, fast metabolism, or thin parents, but I believe that has all been said before, by a thousand different women in a thousand different articles, all trying desperately simply to justify their bodies.
A justification that should be grossly unnecessary.
I chose to reply to both him and the boys who ‘liked’ his comment on messenger. I answered all those questions in the message to the boys without thinking, as I was shaking with anger. But now I am calmer, and I have thought more about this issue. Let’s just take the words “skinny” and “fat” out of the prefix for shaming, and replace them with just simply “body.” Because that is what someone is quantifying, measuring, appraising for value.
Sadly, most of the girls and women I know have suffered, are suffering, or will suffer from an eating disorder of some kind. It is a tragedy so common that I believe we unknowingly begin to transpose our own baggage, insecurity, and issues surrounding body image on to our friends and family under the false pretense of concern. But I have found that many of these comments come from a place where the ego is in control over the empath.
Before you tell your skinny friend to “eat more,” ask yourself if she will benefit from this comment. Does she really need to eat more? Does she actually have a problem? And if she does, is she really benefiting from this comment? Will she suddenly have the epiphany that her diet is truly harmful, and grab that hamburger, and feel great about finally being able to eat it, just because you said this? Or, do you just want her to eat it because you are eating it?
When you ask a heavier friend if “she’s really going to eat the fries on her diet”, are you motivating her to continue to succeed, or are you pushing your Greek salad in her face as a mockery of her “lack of discipline”? In order to feel better about the cookie you ate for lunch?
We need to be more mindful in making seemingly innocent comments that have darker connotations. We need to make sure these comments are not made from the place of needing to feel that we have superiority in our diets or that we have the “healthier outlook.”
Many of these subtleties in conversation can be made in an unconscious way, but these are issues we need to approach with extreme sensitivity, and as women abused by the ridiculous standards of society, we need to examine our reactions and consider that they might be caused by trauma themselves.
One should not claim superiority because they eat clean, because they eat whatever they want, because they don’t eat gluten, because they wake up early to exercise. By doing so we are fueling the consumeristic and judgmental aspects of society that aim to create a divide in women when we should be united.
To end this, we should stop pointing fingers at the media, modeling industries, and obesity statistics, and start looking around at how we treat our friends and family. It is not the action, or the words said, but the thought behind the words that signifies the meaning.
By deluding ourselves with grandeurs of superiority to whatever our unique view of “unhealthy” is, we are perpetuating an extremely serious social issue. Have compassion. If your friend wants to talk, be there as an open ear. If she doesn’t, consider if forcing the conversation will actually help or hurt her.
If you feel the need to criticize her diet, pause. Think of your reasons.
By treating food issues that originate from inner criticism with additional outward criticism of lifestyle choice we are fueling the fire that contributes to body issues to begin with. We are adding to the list of flaws in that person’s head.
The only thing that can undo hatred is love. And if that person hates themselves, the only thing you can truly do to help them is to speak from a place of love. As artists paint a picture to allow others to glimpse life through their perspective, you must paint a picture of love so they can see themselves through your perspective. Sense their sadness, and when they feel down, tell them how their blue eyes sparkle beautifully when they catch the afternoon light. Compliment their curves in the new pair of jeans they bought. Tell them why you love their smile. If they can’t love themselves, love them for them, until they can love themselves too.
When you feel an impulse to make a food criticism or lifestyle judgement in the name of health concerns, simply become more mindful. Ask yourself why these words are on the tip of your tongue, and ask yourself the origin of their true meaning.
Ask yourself the words left unsaid.
Author: Iva deMartelly
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s Own