As I stumble across news of Kim Kardashian’s spectacular, inspirational 17- pound weight loss just 10 days after giving birth to her second child, I feel 1 part envy and 2 parts disappointment. This comes on the heels of the Star Wars VII release, where Carrie Fisher appears 3 decades after the first films in the series, but only after losing 35 pounds to obtain the latest role. I can’t help but have these conflicting emotions. They are authentic, but frustrating none-the-less.
I mentioned that those feelings were 1 part envy and 2 parts disappointment – let me explain. Of course I am programmed by society to envy someone who achieved something I would have liked to, but was unable. Each time I look down at the more pronounced, soft belly that has been with me since the birth of my child, I long for the days of my former, fit self. I was not perfect, but I certainly felt healthy and could wear most anything I wanted. All of that changed when I was blessed with my son. Believe me, this is a positive situation where I feel like I came out a winner.
But still… 17 pounds in the blink of an eye – it momentarily makes me wish I had a personal trainer, dietician, nanny, and the motivation of constant public scrutiny. But, no, deep down I don’t really wish for that. There’s a substantial toll that rapid weight loss takes on your body, such as the potential for gallstones, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, malnutrition, headaches, constipation, liver issues, loss of lean muscle, and loose skin. Another risk is that you become prone to more yo-yo dieting in the future. Is rapid weight loss really worth all of that? It also makes me pause and think of the time spent trying to achieve this sort of goal rather than devoting time to your new baby, friends, family, or to other worthwhile, healthy endeavors. So no, I can’t bear the thought of criticizing myself or wanting a life where I had to live up to public opinion. That’s where the disappointment comes into play – I should not envy this. I need to change my mindset.
That brings up the second part of my disappointment which involves something bigger than my own self-talk. Why is Kim Kardashian’s “accomplishment” splashed all over the news? Why wasn’t Carrie Fisher perfectly acceptable to earn the role as-is? It’s because, and this is nothing new, we are a society obsessed with women’s bodies. Unfortunately, we are not obsessed with them just the way they are. We are constantly being pressured to feel positive about one certain standard and to loathe another. It is a pervasive part of society that has become more of the fabric of our existence than ever. We can point to small victories over this assault on authentic women’s bodies; one positive change is that there is some acceptance of a larger backside – thanks to Kim and J-Lo. But why is it that we still don’t respect all body types?
It’s hard to change the direction of the media juggernaut, but if we, as women, can stir up the waters a bit,then perhaps there’s a way to veer it off course, at least a little. I believe it starts with giving positive feedback to people for something other than their appearance. It is moved forward with truly being able to appreciate our authentic selves. Unless we can engage in positive talk with each other and in our own heads about the way we look, the fixation on living up to a certain body standard will never go away and the body shaming will not stop.
I know I am not alone in this view. We don’t have to buy in to the message the media sends. After all, there are millions of women who aren’t obsessed with their looks. They feel positive about who they are. They lead successful, love-filled lives. They are happy and fulfilled.
Accepting yourself becomes easier with age, but let’s make it a habit with our daughters and our young friends and create a new working attitude. It’s good to see some young stars make an effort to change the public discussion. Last month Ariana Grande took to Twitter to put fat- shamers in their place with her tweet: “The things that make us different from one another make us BEAUTIFUL.” It’s not much, but I’d like to think it’s authentic and a step in the right direction.
With the social media obsession, 24 hour news cycle, and reality stars making headlines for appalling behavior, it’s no wonder we find it so hard to tune the negative messages out. I say we try to forgo what passes for news, stop believing what “they” try to tell us, and quit worrying about what’s on the outside. Embrace reality and focus on what makes us each beautiful – our hearts. That would be truly spectacular and inspirational.
Do you think it’s possible to alter the course? What can you do to feel positive about yourself and about others who may not fit the mold? Let’s turn the tide and learn a little self- love and respect for others. Hopefully it will spread and we can stop feeling judged, shamed, or that we are less than what we truly are – real women who are so much more than just our bodies.