So there's been something on my mind a lot lately. It's kind of a sensitive issue - but hey, since when do I avoid those? Still, I wasn't sure I wanted ot talk about it here. Then, last night, I became so frustrated that I decided to blog about this.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
I live with two other girls. They're actresses. They're my height (about 5 feet tall), and they are both beautiful. But do you know what they say everyday?
"I'm so fat! Why can't I be skinny?"
I hate the word 'skinny.' I hear it every. single. day. Skinny, skinny, skinny - unless it's in the song song "Skinny Love" I never want to hear that word again. Because even though the girls are putting themselves down, they are putting me down, too.
I"m going to be honest here. I'm not a thin girl. I don't like to identify myself as "fat" because I'm not. I'm a bit chubby - I always have been - and you know, I'm usually okay with it. It took me a long time with lots of failed diets and lots of food shame and lots of self loathing, but eventually I moved on. I realized that food is never something to be ashamed of. I realized that being healthy was more important than being "thin." And I realized that there are lots of ways to be beautiful that don't involve having a flat stomach.
But I'm much bigger than my roommates, and despite all of my confidence, hearing them constantly putting themselves down has me starting to put myself down. I try to shake it off, to remind myself that I am healthy and that my relationship with food is more important than my vanity. But when I am constantly subjected to self-loathing, it's hard not to let it seep in.
So weight has been on my mind a lot lately - weight and how people perceive it. But last night I started watching the TV show AWKWARD, and while I love the show, there was something I found very troubling.
The villain is a girl named Sadie. She's not thin. I'd actually say she looks like a normal person - something I always love to see it on TV. Yay normal sized humans! But my happiness was short lived. Because Sadie is cruel, Sadie is judgmental, Sadie is sneaky - but what do people say most about Sadie?
That she's fat.
Even the protagonist stoops to this fat shaming. It left me startled and angry. If the "good guys" are calling someone fat (and frequently!) then what message does that send to the audience? That it's okay to insult people based on how they look? That those same "good guys" judge people based on appearance? How does that make the normal-looking members of the audience feel?
I was infuriated. Let me repeat that I like AWKWARD, but this choice of the writers really disappointed me. How can I support Jenna as a positive character if she thinks its okay to call people names? Doesn't that make her almost as bad as Sadie herself? And why is the villain the only normal-sized person? Why isn't one of Jenna's friends curvy?
I guess the point of this post is that people need to think more about what they put out there. Whether it's insulting yourself or insulting others, your words can leave serious marks. Especially in the media. Sadly, in our society, people's relationships with their bodies are fragile. A few words can ruin it. I wish it wasn't that way. I wish people could love themselves. I wish they could see past the superficial appearances. Maybe it's human that we can't, but we are in control of what we put into the universe.
It comes back down to almost everything I've ever written. Think about what you say. Whether it's calling someone fat or a slut or using a racial or homophobic slur - you may not know it, but that can be damaging. Judgment is bad. Even if - especially if - your harshly judging yourself.
UPDATE: A friend of mine just pointed out that my use of "normal" is unfair, because it isn't fair to lump naturally thin girls into the "not-normal" category. She's right, and I was wrong. Instead of "normal" I should have said "average." Because I think it's fair to say that the average woman in the U.S. is somewhere in the middle. I'm sorry for my insensitivity on that front. It was the wrong word use.