By India Taina
A few years ago, I was at Victoria’s Secret when I overheard an associate talking to a customer. She was trying to sell her these crazy panties that had lines and strings going all over the fucking place, and it was pretty amusing to watch. But then the customer said, “Oh honey, I’m way too fat for that. Those panties aren’t made for me. I can’t be sexy, I’ve had a baby! I’m honestly way too fat.” The response shocked me, and I was probably 17 at the time and could not think of a possible refute to that. There’s no way she’s going to be able to fish herself out of this one, I thought, referring to the associate. I watched as the salesperson gathered her thoughts. There was a palpable feeling of stun between these two women, as if the one who said it, could not believe she had said it, and the one who heard, could not believe she had heard. And then the most shocking part of all, the associate, quietly, and so filled with empathy, said “Be nice to yourself. You don’t deserve that talk. Be nice to yourself.”
Now, you might be thinking, what is so stunning about this display? What is this supposed to teach us? Why is this even interesting? To which my reply would be, how often do you remind yourself to be nice to YOU? How many times do people stop you in the middle of a torrential downpour of “Fuck me I’m a dumb bitch”, and let you know that you deserve more? And even more of a rarity, how often does a complete stranger do that? But I think the real shock of this, the real plot twist here, is that a woman could totally degrade herself in this way in front of a complete stranger, and people reading this will think it is not appalling. That is it not disquieting or distressing, because we have come to a place in time where women desecrating their whole selves is okay. It’s normal. It’s what-the-fuck-ever. And we’ve got to change this ladies. This is everything but okay shaw-dae.
I’m going to share one more experience here to highlight the crazyness of this whole fucking epidemic that we’ve got going here. So my girl Trish* is a recent mother of one. She’s not much older than me, and is really fucking pretty. Like, really really fucking pretty. The best comparison I can make of her is to one of those vampire crushes you had in Twilight back in 2013. Yeah. Back in 2013 they were the baddest motherfuckers on the planet so there you have it. Envision it. So one day, Trish and I are talking, and somehow we get into the topic of bodies. I talk about how I felt as if there had been some talk about my weight amongst family friends, and she says she also has felt a keen sense that people were talking about her weight too. And then she adds “Well, if Michael* (her partner) doesn’t like my stomach anymore, then he can just put me on the table”. The table? Tf does that mean, so he can eat you out, or…? “No girl, to cut me. To do surgery and take all the gross parts he doesn’t want to see out. I don’t mind. But he’s paying.” So remember that palpable feeling of shock I was talking about earlier? That’s exactly what I could feel, right in my throat. To think that this mother, who had birthed life, was willing to cut herself up like a steak dressed up in A1 sauce because she felt that her body (which was designed to stretch and to mark and to hang loose from time to time), was displeasing. That it was offensive to the eyes of others, and so needed to be changed. It infuriated me. It made me so fucking enraged. And then she went on to detail how she augmented her breasts for the same reason, and then named five other women who we knew that also had multiple surgeries.
And then I felt really… betrayed? Because for a very long time, I had been comparing myself to those very women, and felt so inadequate, and beneath them because I believed them to be naturally so beautiful, with thin size 2 frames and double DD breasts. And then I realized that I was part of the problem as well. Comparing and contrasting should only be used in essay prompts. Not in real life. Not when it comes to your body, your mental health, your career. It just isn’t it sis. This is a real PROBLEM. Millions of women struggle with body issues and maintaining their levels of self worth. And it’s not just about feeling bad and sad all the time because you have a wrinkle here and a roll there. Not being positive about yourself leads to some serious issues like depression, low self-esteem, low confidence, and eating disorders. And you have to understand, this affects those around you too. If you are a parent or an older sibling, you are setting the stage for how your kids or younger siblings talk about themselves. And men, you are a huge fucking part of this. Stop with this nonsense of needing curves, a big ass, flat stomach, pretty face, cute feet, etc. This is not Build-A-Bitch Workshop.
But India, what about the men’s side? Don’t we get a say? Yes, of course you do. I know it’s hard out there, with the expectations of abs and dressing fresh and spitting game. Really, I know it can be tough and guys get a lot of shit too. And the kind of shit you get can just as easily lead to eating disorders and obsessive behaviors in the gym and low self esteem. So this is why Body Positivity is for humans. Not male or female. Not any one category or race. It’s made to fight a construct, and beauty is a construct (so are race and class but that’s for another post that’s not so mini). So, let’s all trust that strangers aren’t just being nice when they say you are beautiful. Your partner isn’t lying when he/she says that you are worthy. And you need to change that inner voice that is telling you you’re all wrong, you don’t got nothing of value, and you are no good. Because that is a lie sis/bro. You are in the right place, in the right space, the right mind. Where you are right now is where you are meant to be and it is beautiful. You are beautiful. So, go ahead. Be nice to yourself.
*Trish and Michael are fictitious names, however the scenario is entirely real and untouched. I never use real names in my posts to protect the identities of my friends while still maintaining the integrity of their stories. Please read respectfully.
P.S. If you would like to learn more about the Body Positivity Movement, which has been around way longer than I thought, read this article on Wiki to give you a good intro: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_positivity