I keep seeing these DUMB things in the news about Japanese social media trends where girls are taking pictures to show that their waist is skinnier than a piece of paper or that their legs are thinner than an iPhone screen.
And today in the news, The Japan Society of Eating Disorders reports that treatment for eating disorders in Japan is “inadequate” and that the pressure to be thin has “gone too far.” Well DUH guys.
As someone who has navigated the ins and outs of disordered eating, I like to keep up with this stuff. I am passionate about it. But it’s not something people like to talk about. Like any mental illness, it’s an uncomfortable topic that often goes unnoticed until it’s almost too late.
I suppose I could share articles and rant about my thoughts on my own social media, but would that really do any good? For today, I just need to get some thoughts out, so here is where I’ll put them.
It is our every day thoughts and actions that cause things like this to happen. It’s a side comment from a family member, teacher or coach, who maybe meant no harm at all, maybe not even directed at you, that spirals into thoughts of “I need to be better” and “Why do I look like this?”
Of course we already know it’s about being constantly bombarded with images of seemingly perfect-looking people and ads for weight loss nonsense, but it’s a lot deeper than that. It’s the way people talk about body image. I’m all for body positivity, but why does it have to be such a big deal? Why do we make such a big deal about putting “plus size” women in Sports Illustrated? I mean, that’s great. But talking about how it “makes history” and how she’s a role model for plus size women everywhere is just more labeling and objectifying.
Constantly hearing things like, “she must have gained weight” or “she’s so skinny” or “I shouldn’t have eaten that” or “you’re wasting away over there” or ANYTHING relating to body image is what causes this to happen. People often think they’re giving a compliment, but they don’t realize the damage it can do.
I recently got fitted for a bridesmaid dress and the woman that was measuring me would not stop making comments about my body. “You’re so tall! I can’t believe how tall you are! How tall are you? You’re like a good tall though, not like a bulky, football player tall.” Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but come on, what does that even mean? It made me so uncomfortable. So much so that I’m still thinking about it weeks later.
If it were up to me, no one would talk about it at all. In my opinion, in order for this to get better, the focus on body image needs to end.
I definitely don’t think I’m going to change the world or anything, but I sometimes wish I had the courage to call people out when this happens. I’ve at least tried to explain it to those that I am close to, but I’m still not sure that people get it.
In my perfect world, it would all go away. There would be no Meghan Trainor songs about skinny bitches, no stupid articles about “how to shop for jeans based on your figure,” no entire magazine issues geared towards plus-sized women and no ad campaigns claiming to only use “real, un-retouched models.” My examples mostly have to do with women (because I am one so that’s what I pay attention to), but this definitely affects all genders.
I know what it’s like to put immense pressure on yourself to be perfect, whatever your definition of perfect may be. I’ve done it my entire life. But I’ve finally realized that what you look like on the outside doesn’t matter. It’s how you feel on the inside. If your brain and your body are healthy, you can put two feet on the ground every morning, then who the F cares? Be whoever you want to be.
I guess the point of this is: be mindful of what you say. You never know who could be listening and take it to heart. Also I am scared to post this, but I will anyway.