On Monday early morning, I wrote a Facebook post detailing a comment that a new acquaintance made at a table in front of 6 girls and another guy:
“I tell people to only set me up with girls who I can lift.”
And I looked around the table and saw a few of us there who… well, I had trouble telling how much he could bench.
I say ‘us’ because I was included.
I’m not overweight on the scale of tiny to large. But I’m not a petite girl.
Even at my thinnest point, when the doctor told me that I should stop trying to loose weight, I was not a petite girl. Because, much to a Teenage Me’s despair, my body was never available in size, ‘petite’.
(And believe me, Teenage Me definitely did despair).
And I could have responded to this comment with humor, ‘well, I guess you should work out more because you never know who you’re going to meet!’
And I could have responded to this comment with indifference, ‘really? Good luck to you, man!’
And I could have responded to this comment in a million ways. But I chose the road less travelled. I took it personally. And I ate another piece of cake.
Because if I’m going to be a girl who can’t be lifted, I’m going to do it right.
(Because even though I now have a pretty healthy self-confidence, I guess a part of Adult Me also despairs).
And I asked him whether he really meant it. Because didn’t he know that looks fade? That bodies stretch? Didn’t he realize that personality might matter more? That maybe he should give us girls who he can’t carry over his threshold a chance?
And then, I wrote that Facebook post briefing people about the encounter and asking for people’s thoughts about how that comment, and the fact that it was said in front of a bunch of strangers, impacted them.
Because I know how it impacted me.
I know that it dragged up feelings from the catacombs of how I used to view myself.
It took me right back to that fear that no one could love me. That no one would ever find me attractive, no one could ever find me attractive. That if I’d ever find a guy, I would have to bait him with my personality, not my face.
It unearthed thoughts about how the media and pop culture make women feel about their bodies. About how men speak about women’s bodies. About how women speak about women’s bodies.
It reminded me of that time 6 years ago, when I absolutely hated my curves and used to describe people I thought were pretty as, ‘thin and beautiful’ – always as a pair.
As if ‘thin’ and ‘beautiful’ were attached at their perfect hips.
And one night, this textbook ‘thin and beautiful’ girl I met made a comment to me, “I’m jealous of your body.”
And she told me that she had been trying to gain weight for a while. But as hard as she tried, she just couldn’t. And that she was concerned that her body wouldn’t be able to nurture children.
“And you,” She said, “your body is beautiful. You look so healthy and fertile and comfortable. Like, the perfect type to be a mom.”
Fertile was definitely not the look I was going for when I got dressed in the morning.
But I remember that that was the beginning of a shift in my self-perception. In my confidence. In the way I related to this magical thing which stores my soul and nurtures and moves and lifts and comforts.
But it was only the beginning. It took a long long time until I was able to relate to my body in any way resembling a healthy manner.
And this guy’s comment took me right back to that.
In my Facebook post, I asked for people’s thoughts. Experiences. Anything having to do with body image, because I wanted to write my next Hevria post (due 36 hours later) about it.
The amount of comments and private messages that I received was staggering. I have never received that many messages about anything I’ve written. Ever.
I received messages about bodies and diets and starvation and binging and social media and photo editing and bulimia.
I received messages about how body image is also a thing for guys and how one girl had a friend who said she wanted to cut off her breasts because they made her look fat and how someone took over 20 ‘selfies’ for every photo she posts on Instagram. Ensuring that she looks perfect.
I received messages about how it’s not just about being underweight or overweight, it’s about having stringy hair and a large nose.
I received messages of support and messages saying that people are looking forward to this post.
And I spent all night last night trying to write the article. All. Night. But I couldn’t get it done in time for this morning’s post. It was too much. It was about something too important.
This issue is too important.
Because I somehow want to convey ‘EveryMan’s struggle with self-confidence and with self-concept’ without being cliche.
And to somehow share that ‘Weight matters, but not as much as 1,000 other things about you’ without sounding patronizing.
And to somehow convey that ‘Everybody is beautiful because Every Body is beautiful because you are a freaking miracle and all you have to do is own it’ without sounding cheesy.
And I decided to give myself a few more days to write it. To field all of these messages.
To get to place where I can look at the article and be semi-happy with it.
(Hey, I’m a writer. I’ll never be 100% happy with anything I’ve published)
Because, as was evidenced by the response to my Facebook post, it just matters too much to too many people.
And the piece is coming. Just not today.
P.S. (because I have a need to modify things that I write)
- Comments judging or mocking the ‘I want to be able to lift a girl’ guy on his character WILL be deleted. Instantly. Because I have nothing against this guy (indeed, I don’t know him) and do not in any way want any hurtful comments to be written. Because that’s not the point.
- I’m sure that some of you will be tempted to message me and tell me that my weight is fine and I’m beautiful and all of those wonderful things. Thank you so so much. But I’m good now. Really. I used to have an immense struggle with my confidence, but I’m good now. I promise. That’s the only reason why I can write this post in the first place. So don’t worry about me AT ALL.
Amazing Image by Laura Lewis