It seems to me that when some things start they never stop.
For instance, an obsession with food. When I was younger I became enamored of the idea of anorexia, bulimia, bones jutting out, a perfect figure. Now, I know that I am far from having a problem comparable to the poor girls that suffer from horrendous eating disorders, but I do believe that my mind works in a similar way as many other girls, and this should not be standard.
When you are not super skinny in a natural, don’t-even-have-to-try way, food is a constant struggle while living in this society. I am 5’2″ and fluctuate between 120lbs (my skinny weight) to 130lbs (my fat weight). My dream would be to be between 100-115lbs. Unfortunately, I don’t have the will power to attain that goal, and even on the rare occasion I do, it’s never for more than day.
Now, I’ve always been fairly confident and I don’t overly obsess over what people think I look like, but it is something that creeps into my mind at least once a day, especially since I’ve been at college. With all these new people and faces around me, pretty girls with flat stomachs, I have never felt so ugly and inadequate as I did those first few weeks. And maybe every freshman girl feels that way.
But, either way, it’s not a good feeling, and it’s certainly not one that anyone deserves. Many people blame this superficial culture we have on the advent of social media and intense advertising. But women have always thought often about their looks. Look at Audrey Hepburn’s waist, Marilyn Monroe’s curves, Ingrid Bergman’s face. The need for the ideal look has always been around.
But what if you don’t fit this look? What if you don’t look like any other girls you see, any other celebrities, anyone?
And what if you go to college and change? I’ve gained weight since being here. I typically don’t really eat much and don’t snack, but with less structure and more food available in college, I can’t help but eat more. I go to the gym more often than either of my roommates, but they’re still the perfectly skinny ones while I’m too curvy for my own good. My skin’s gotten bad, my bras don’t fit well, my pants won’t go on as easily. Every second of the day is an argument within myself of whether to eat or not to eat. And it doesn’t help that going to the cafeteria is a highly social experience – how can I make friends if I never spend that time with people? And I’m paying for that food too – if I don’t take advantage of it, I’m basically throwing away money.
It’s hard for me to grasp who I am anymore. I used to be so proud of my well proportioned curves, my ability to eat like a bird in the summer, how I could wear a bikini, how boys found me attractive. I was the one that looked good in whatever I tried on, that had no problem finding a prom dress that fit, and that could flirt with abandon because I knew I didn’t gross anyone out. I was pretty, boys had called me beautiful even, some said I was the most beautiful girl they had ever seen (and these are platonic friends, not even sex hungry boyfriends).
But now I don’t even know if I’m good enough for the guys that I would normally never lower my standards for. I don’t know if I’m pretty, I don’t know if I have sex appeal, I don’t if my outfits are cute or if my flirting’s attractive. I don’t know who I am. And it’s sad that something like appearance could throw off my sense of self and self-worth so harshly.
Why? Why do girls literally kill themselves so that they can see hipbones popping through? Why do girls spend more time at the gym than studying so that when they go out maybe, just maybe their crush will notice them? How did this cultural shift come about from the days when softer, fuller women were the ones men painted and wanted?
Maybe it doesn’t matter how or why. Maybe all that matters is what we do to change it now. Because I’m tired of feeling like shit every time I look in the mirror, tired of my friends calling themselves “duffs” (designated ugly fat friends) because boys don’t give them a lot of attention, and tired of spending hours and hundreds of dollars on “correcting” the way I look.
So next time I go out, I’m going to do my makeup the way I like to do it. I’m going to wear whatever the hell I want. I’m not going to focus on sex appeal – I’m going to focus on making myself happy. And if a boy likes it, he does; if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. I’ll go out to have a good time with friends, and I’ll forget about that opposite sex that, in this stage of their lives, does not give one fuck about me. I dare all of you to do this the next time you go out or go to school or do whatever. Just focus on yourself, because it’s your life, not theirs, not society’s. You do you and let them do whatever, and let’s see if we can finally be happy.