Thursday, November 17, 2011

Not Helping.

I know that all of the pictures of half-naked girls with glistening abs that keep popping up on Pinterest are meant to inspire me to work out, but instead they just make me feel ugly.

 This? Not helping.

I get that the new trend is toward "healthy, not skinny" and I appreciate that... but what I am seeing is just another ideal that I will never live up to.

 Also not helping.

I will never have a six-pack of abs. I will never look good in a pair of skimpy stretchy shorts. I don't have the time for an intense fitness regimen. I don't even have time to clean my house. I'm not a professional athlete. I don't have a personal trainer. I don't have a gym membership. I haven't gotten any further than taking the cellophane off of the lone Jillian Michaels DVD I bought. It's discouraging because I know I never look like that. Not unless I quit my job and my life and did nothing but work out all day every day. Because that's practical.

Still not helping.

And another thing. Those images? No one goes to the gym with luxurious curls and airbrush quality makeup. Ponytails and messy buns, elastic headbands, possibly even shirts. I don't know. But what we are seeing are these models, standing there with their sports bras and unnaturally round boobs and eight-packs and teeny shorts and some motivational slogan typeset over their bad-ass, piercing stare.

You're not even wearing shoes!

I don't see motivation. I see another impossible standard. I see me, once again not good enough, not pretty enough, not sexy enough. Simply not enough.

 Put some goddamn clothes on.

I just... I don't know. Again, I'm glad we're moving away from the waif-like look that was "hot" a few years ago. I'm just not sure this is any better for those of us who are living normal lives and will never see this when we look in a mirror.

I'm not trying to sound bitter, I'm just frustrated. I'm tired of being bombarded of images like this. I'm tired of being made to feel like shit because I don't look like this. It's just telling me that I am fat and unhealthy and unattractive and weak and not good enough, because clearly, if I cared at all about my body, I would devote it to working out 24/7 and be a slave to the fitness industry. I would have glistening abs and run around in a sports bra. My breasts would magically be cute and perky, to say nothing of my ass. You know what? Fuck you, media. I'm willing to bet maybe 1% of the female population looks like that. Once again, I'm firmly entrenched in the 99%. (Political joke. Ha ha.)

I've posted pictures of myself on here. You guys know what I look like. For all my ranting, I'm not fat. I'm extremely average with a little extra helping of curves. Yet compared to these models, I may as well be riding motorized scooters around Wal-Mart. It will be a cold day in hell before I run around in just a sports bra anywhere that's not alone in my apartment with all my blinds closed, and even then, I won't wear little shorts. I won't wear shorts even when there's nobody around to see what I believe to be the most unattractive legs ever. Nothing is quite so anxiety-inducing as the thought of someone, anyone, seeing me naked. Because then they'll see all of my flaws and how very not-perfect I am. They'll judge me because I don't look like I'm supposed to. 

I've been fighting this fight for 27 years and when I look back at pictures of myself from high school, I want to punch myself in the face for ever thinking I was fat. I was maybe tipping the scale at 120 pounds and in some pictures I would say I look almost downright gangly. Gross. Yet all I could hear was the echo of "must be thinner... must be prettier...." I was thin. I was pretty. But I never noticed it because I was too busy believing that I wasn't. That voice? It never gets quieter. It never goes away. Maybe when you're old and straight up don't give a shit anymore, but I don't want to have to fight with that inner monologue for another forty years. It's exhausting.

No wonder little girls think they're fat and try to go on diets when they're, like, five. From the day we're born, we're expected to be cute. We can't win. We can never win. Maybe we haven't come so far after all, if our sense of self-worth is still so closely tied to what we look like. Probably because the message that is whispered into our ears every waking moment is that you're nothing unless you're pretty and have a great body. You know what? That's bullshit. That's bullshit and I'm tired of it.

Go on, tell me. Tell me you don't feel like you have to look a certain way. Tell me that you don't feel like you need to be thin or ripped or pretty. Tell me you're not wary of a two-digit dress size. Tell me you never feel inadequate. You're a goddamn liar.

You know what else? I bet you each and every one of those models up there also feels inadequate. They know what they're supposed to look like. You think they aren't terrified of the day when they wake up and don't have as much definition as they used to? When things start to sag and there's no one there to airbrush their photos? When there's someone else that out-sexifies them? When they become - gasp - like the rest of us?

That's really the problem. There should be no "supposed to." I'm so goddamn sick of being told how I'm supposed to look. Who gets to say? What gives anyone the right to dictate what's acceptable and attractive? You know what, it doesn't even matter. Because for the rest of my life, I'm going to spend it trying to match that vision in my head of what is allegedly pretty and right. It's already there. There's no escaping it. It's the burden we have to bear. Not just women, either, though that's obviously the perspective that I am all too familiar with. Men have their own set of idealized standards, too. It's not fair but it is what it is. We're all fighting a fight we can't win.

It's ridiculous. Shouldn't we be off curing cancer or something? Can we stop focusing on what we look like? Please? I know, it's a worthless plea. It's too late, the damage is done, our perceptions are already skewed. But me and my less-than-perfect self would really, really appreciate it. I'm tired of hating myself, and you should be too.


Sarah said...

You are SO not alone in your thoughts! I am super-jealous of those bodies, but like you said-those bodies come from daily hours in the gym--and normal folks just don't have the time for it. I just try not to linger too long or dwell on pictures like that, but it's easier said than done. I wanted to cry when I saw Carrie Underwood's legs on the CMA's! I try to just be the best me that I can be...staying healthy and getting exercise. Those same girls in the pictures with those awesome bodies look happy, but I'm sure they have thier own shortcomings and weaknesses.

Tori said...


The whole country is on this huge "betterment" kick right now. You know what make my life better? Strangers not telling me how to live / what to do / what to eat / etc.

It took me a long time to get even CLOSE to comfortable with who I am (and I'm frankly not sure it even would have happened without Dan being in my life), and I'll be damned if I'm going to let Glamour or Self or Pinterest or any other bullshit medium that thinks everyone should look alike take that away from me.

chimes said...

I'm holding back my response on this one until I am a little less pissed off about this.

Kaci Johanna said...

Totes not helpful.

That's why I don't even both looking at shit like that... I just glance right over it onto the next delicious-looking recipe. :)

chimes said...

You know what's even worse ... pregnant fitness queens. OMG I'm SO big now:

Steph A said...

Check this one out. If this isn't proof that not everyone who posts these photos has health in mind, then it doesn't exist:

terra said...

I get frustrated by this stuff too and I'm pretty little to begin with. I always feel like I'm two steps away from looking the way I want too, but in reality, my body type will never look like the girls in those pictures and that's just something I'll have to come to terms with. But that's real, real hard and damn near impossible for some days.

And I wish I could smack the shit out of high school me. Weight-wise, there wasn't that much difference from where I am now but I felt so fat all the time and, looking back, I was a fucking stick. No hips, no thigh jiggle, just stick. And it was so, so silly how many tears I wasted wishing to be more stick-like