Here’s the thing about body image – It’s very subjective. Recently there was an ad campaign by Dove on Real Beauty Sketches which was all about challenging self perceptions. What about perception of the society we live in? Sure thing, Dove talked about these strangers who had a positive point of view but what about people who are around you on a day-to-day basis? Can they look at the positives too? Are they also trying to pull you up and not push you down? Are these also the people who are not critical of you every time they meet you?
I can always work on how I perceive myself not with respect to anybody but just me. Sure, I am not perfect. Sure, I have made mistakes and sure, I have personality traits not everyone would like. You are welcome to criticize me for what I am doing wrong but I don’t understand the need to boil it all down to Body Image and Beauty.
Since forever and for as long as I can remember I have been called Skinny. Now, there are people who might take that as a compliment but I don’t. Here’s why I don’t. I have since my teenage years tried to gain weight. I have tried most things but I am still skinny. That’s because, even I know too skinny isn’t very healthy.
However, eventually I realized, it is easier for me to take the remarks people made in stride, rather than try to fight my body’s metabolism and my genes. I am genetically inclined to be skinny. So can I please not be judged on my appearance all the time? I have been labeled as too thin, too skinny and even anorexic. Even while I was pregnant, I have had people tell me – You haven’t gained enough weight, you are not eating enough, etc. etc. Until I gave birth to a 8 lbs 6 oz baby girl without any issues. My baby girl is thriving and from what we know of her so far, she is fond of food and is going to be a big foodie.
Do I want her to be judged by her appearance, later in life? Do I want her to be labeled as too chubby, too skinny, too dark, too fair, too tall, too short? Well, no. The thing is, everyone is battling with some issues and probably struggling with things they don’t like about themselves. Why amplify that issue by constantly letting them know they are less than perfect?
I have seen teenage girls post their pictures on the internet, labeling themselves as ugly or not that pretty and asking strangers, “What can I do to look better?” I have heard comments like, “You have a big nose,” “You have crooked teeth,” “You have unruly hair,” “You have big feet,” and the list goes on. I wouldn’t really have paid attention to any of that on my own, so thank you for bringing it to my notice.
The thing is, I am 30 years old and I don’t give a shit anymore. After the birth of my daughter, my hair started graying, my skin wasn’t the same, I had stretch marks on my skin when I started losing weight. For the first four months of her life and since she was a colic high needs baby, there have been days I did not have time to shower, forget looking in a mirror. There have been days I went without combing my hair because I would be sitting in one position all day while my baby nursed and wouldn’t let go of me. All I cared about was the smiles I could get out of her amidst all the tears (hers and mine).
In hindsight, I don’t even know why I bothered listening to all those people. As they say, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world and there is still going to be somebody who doesn’t like peaches.” Why did I label myself based on their perceptions and why did I confine myself to what their definition of beauty was? Beauty is all about how you deal with your imperfections and accept others with theirs. You will never be perfect, but then you are not supposed to be. If we were all perfect, we would be the same. We wouldn’t be individuals.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
So maybe next time you meet someone, look past what you can see and concentrate instead on what you can’t!