The Perfect Body? Cut the Facade, Not the Pounds.

My yoga buddy, a sixty-something-year-old engineer from an affluent family, told me this week that I have a perfect body. He meant it as a compliment because I’m thin with socially privileged body measurements, but his statement left me wondering about its deeper implications. The perfect body… what does that mean?

People tell me that I have an easy time loving my body because I’m slender and have therefore “achieved” thinness, and in doing so, they completely disregard the meaning of my message, which is frustrating. However, if I was overweight, I feel I’d be disregarded in the same fashion — “Well, you’re just saying that because you can’t be skinny. Everyone wants to be thinner.”

I’ve been slender my whole life. I didn’t “achieve” anything; I was born into it. And yet, people regularly assume I’m in perfect health without knowing anything about the internal composition of my body or my mental health. How would they know if I had an eating disorder or was self-harming, or if I had a debilitating congenital disease, or if I had cancer, or if I was depressed?

Those same people tend to also assume that overweight people are unhealthy, which is equally as ridiculous. My yoga buddy proudly professes that all fat people are lazy, including his small sample of overweight friends. My boyfriend has been overweight for most of his life, and people regularly give him “helpful” (i.e., unsolicited) advice about how he should be eating and exercising. Little do they know that he eats better food and exercises much more often and intensely than I do.

Meanwhile, people don’t volunteer any of that criticism to me because, as a slender person, it’s assumed I know what I’m doing. They do, however, touch me at their leisure, with or without my consent. Perfect example: the family friend who came up to me at a neighborhood holiday party, grabbed me around the hips, and started guessing my pants size. Thanks, but no thanks, Olga.

We all regularly witness fat-bashing, and more recently, skinny-bashing, too. In this society, skinny is privileged because it’s harder to achieve than fat, but both are toxic. When people say they want to lose weight for their health, unless they are severely overweight and it’s stressing their heart and other vital organs, I assume they are either lying or ignorant of the underlying social mechanisms at play.

Some psychological studies suggest that cosmetic changes which bring our bodies more in line with society’s standards increase our overall happiness and feelings of well-being, but at what cost? You’re “fixing” bodies which were never broken, which treats the symptom but does nothing to target the disease.

I mean, really… Who cares about the extra squish on your belly? Bellies were built to be soft to protect our organs! And that cellulite on your thighs, or the extra skin under your neck, or the curvature of your chest? So what?

Let’s put our perfect bodies together and take a stand against this stigma! Happy beach season, everyone. We all look great.

8 comments

  1. Love this! I think everyone is sick of unrealistic body images that vomit all over us, thanks to the media. Yet so many people still strive to look like those ridiculously skinny models! When ARE KINDNESS AND INTELLECT going to be the most enviable traits? It’s too bad we haven’t invented surgery for that! Thank you for sharing such a thought-provoking piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! It’s interesting how we are fully aware that we’re surrounded by unachievable appearances, yet we still dedicate millions of hours and dollars toward their pursuit.

      Like

  2. The very tall and very short also find their physical aspect deemed appropriate for “good-natured” social banter and speculation. It’s kind of a herd instinct — treating anything different as notable. “But, hey, we’re just kidding, ya know?!”

    So if you meet someone who is seven feet tall and has the body of a Greek God(ess), it’s probably best to just talk about movies or sports. XD

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, peace of mind! That explains a lot. The grocer looked at me funny when I asked about peas of mind. Said he didn’t know where they were, either, and he seemed quite upset about it.

        (As long as I’ve sunk to vaudeville levels, do you know what the real problem is with sex on TV? With today’s skinny flat screens, it’s really, really hard to keep your balance.)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this. I, too, have been skinny my whole life and am so tired people pointing that out as if it’s the most important part of my being. The first thing certain people comment on when I see them after a certain amount of time is whether or not I’ve gained or lost weight, etc. (in fear that I have become too skinny, of course).

    I try my best to refrain from commenting on people’s physical size. It has become so ingrained in me to see a larger person and judge them for their size and I hate that. There is so much more to a person that what they weigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly – thank you for your feedback! It’s both wonderful and terrible that you know exactly how skinny shaming feels. My weight is more often than not the first point of conversation amongst friends, coworkers, and total strangers. Even my boyfriend’s father felt it was appropriate to discuss my body at their family dinner.

      I try to refrain from paying attention to others’ physical sizes, as well, but like you said, that’s sometimes difficult because our social programming is on cruise control. I wish more people realized they had a choice to not see the world through such a narrow view.

      Like

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