*Today at lunch at Cafe Rani with the roommate (don’t torture your wallet and taste buds unless you’re a masochist and into that kind of stuff, mediocre food and terrible service). Roommate= an international student from Shanghai pursing her masters in finance*
Faye: Have you ever thought about losing weight? You will be more beautiful.
(LET ME JUST STOP RIGHT HERE TO TELL YOU THAT THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME SHE HAS SAID THIS TO ME. Also, I gave her really short, watered-down answers because I was peeved and also so she could better understand, her English still isn’t very strong)
Me: I’m actually rather content with my body right now, it gets done what it needs to get done. I eat well and I try to exercise regularly but with the intention of health, not weight loss.
Faye: But you can buy better clothes if you are thinner.
Me: …I don’t really have a problem finding clothes. I’m not that big of a shopper anyway (I actually hate shopping and have looked homeless for about 75% of my existence, #hobo chic). I’d rather spend my money on food and entertainment than on clothes (food and entertainment=alcohol).
(A normal person would stop here. She obviously is not normal)
Faye: But you will be more popular if you are thinner.
Me: Having a lot of friends or having people like me isn’t a goal of mine, it doesn’t define my happiness. Even though I don’t have a lot of friends, I have a small group of tight-knit friends and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Faye: But you will have more boys chase you. Don’t you want a boyfriend and marriage?
Me: I would rather have boys (ahem, men) be attracted to me for my character, personality, and confidence rather than my appearance. Just like I wouldn’t date a guy solely because he is good looking. There are more components to romantic attraction than just physical lust.
(Um, and your draconian rule of having no guys over past 9:00 pm because it’s not appropriate in “traditional China” kind of dampened the whole dating experience this semester. Yet you’re always boasting Shanghai’s modernity and advancements while belittling America’s inadequacies).
Pardon my rolls! I am by no means ‘beautiful’ by society’s standards: I am a 5’4, 140.4 pounds (weighed myself nekkid this morning, boom), size ten, curvy (I prefer fertile-looking), woman who has no problems in the department of clothes, happiness, and men. I thank the cosmos that I’m not the self-conscious girl that I was in high school because I would have busted into tears at that restaurant today.
Harboring these kinds of thoughts is truly dangerous, the “if I were skinny, I’d be happy, have a boyfriend, a better life, etc..” kind of thoughts. They’re truly debilitating in the sense that they make you seem not worthy of the simple pleasures in life (like love, self-worth, a sense of belonging, etc.) that EVERYONE is entitled to. “I don’t deserve a boyfriend. I’m fat and disgusting, who would love me?” They can dictate your daily existence— at what time of the day you leave your house, where you can go, what you can and cannot wear, what you can eat in public. “If I order a cheeseburger people are going to think I’m a fatass but if I get a salad people are going to think that I’m on a diet.”
I wish I could say that I’m at the stage in life when I truly don’t give a fuck about my body image because I’m not. There are times when I feel self-conscious and criticize my appearance. However I snap out of it, realize that I am adequate just they way I am, accept that I, just as everyone else is different, and different is beautiful, flaws and all.
I’m not mad at her for asking those questions because this is a component of American culture that has transcended borders and manifested itself into many other societies. Sadly, our society perpetuates and profits off of men and women’s insecurities (but far more off of women’s) by establishing unrealistic and unattainable standards, and in turn we get stuck and obsessed in this web of attaining perfection. Although it’s already fairly prominent in our youth, I wouldn’t wish this self-destructive thinking of inadequacy upon anyone.
(If you haven’t already, please check out the proana (pro-anorexia) tag that I included on this post to get a glimpse of extreme self-hate and the deadly habits that go along with it. I was deeply disturbed, concerned, and saddened upon scrolling through the posts from young girls (and a few boys) documenting their triumphs and shortcomings of ten-day fasts, 300 calories days, excessive exercise, purging, skeletal pictures and so forth)
In conclusion, yes, I have an ass. Yes, my stomach folds over when I sit down. Yes, I have child-rearing hips. Yes, my breasts nearly slap me unconscious when I jog. But I’m happy. Don’t try to fix what’s not broken.