Friday, 11 April 2008

Body blow

So, guys, how often have you heard those plaintive words from the woman in your life? "God, I'm so fat!" "My bum is just huge!" "I really hate my nose!" And no amount of denial or reassurance make any difference.

Even if she's dazzlingly pretty and men - and women - say so all the time, still she's convinced there are a dozen things wrong with her perfect (or at least perfectly okay) body.

She'll scrutinise herself constantly in the mirror, checking out this bit and that bit and pronouncing them all inadequate. No matter how much you say she's just fine as she is, that she's being too hypercritical and comparing herself too much with all the airbrushed media images, she's not persuaded.

(By the way, I'm not necessarily referring to Jenny here. Most women I've known have had the same unsparing attitude to their bodies)

There's something seriously wrong with the way women are brought up, that they acquire such a negative view of themselves instead of accepting what they're blessed with. It doesn't help that so many mothers are themselves furiously dieting or botoxing.

I'm horrified by the continuing rise and rise of plastic surgery and the soaring demand from women for every variety of so-called enhancement and improvement, no matter what the cost.

Like many men, I've always been quite happy with my body, despite it being a long way from George Clooney or Johnny Depp, and I've never had even a fleeting desire to change any of it.

I'm sure anyone else giving it the once-over could find plenty of things wrong with it, but I couldn't care less. It's mine and I like it, so back off! It's sad that women aren't so self-accepting.


Grannymar said...

When you know you have a face like the back of a bus, it’s a waste of time worrying about it. :lol:

I remember one day being in the company of two ladies (older than me) and one of them while poking me in the ribs said ‘look how thin you are!' It sounded like it was a great big sin, neither of them showed any sign of the lack of food.

'I'm the way God made me' I answered, it was the first thing that came to me at the time.

I often wondered if I had said the opposite to her how she would have liked it.

I prefer to look inside and see the real person.

Nick said...

I've had that so many times, Grannymar - you're so thin, Nick, we'll have to fatten you up a bit. I point out that I'm the normal weight for my height but it has no effect. Yes, if we said "How fat you are" would we be in trouble!

Wisewebwoman said...

I remember my ex-partner saying to me one time the sexiest thing about a woman was the way she felt about herself.
If only we could all think positively! I've struggled with poor self-image all my life but stopped short of plastic surgery due to friends suffering really bad after-effects (one had a stroke, one had a nipple fall off,etc.)
My mother was never happy with her body, even though she was a gorgeous woman and quite slender. We pick up those kinds of messages growing up. Never quite good enough. Breasts too big, too small, hair straight, hair curly. And the inner is so much more important than the outer.....
Thanks for this, Nick.

Nick said...

www - "The sexiest thing about a woman is the way she feels about herself" - I so agree! A confident, self-loving, exuberant woman sticks out a mile. But as you say, even a gorgeous, slender woman can be unhappy with her body. Modesty has turned into abasement.

Mudflapgypsy said...

Inner attitude shines through indeed.
Advertising aims to make women feel bad about how they look and then offer them a way to make it all better. I think that this is insidious and evil. Models are all super skinny and influenced to stay that way or they won't get work. They are then seen on newspapers, magazines and tv. The images of the thin "perfect" woman is drilled into us. So how much money is being made by the dieting industry, the exercise industry and other entities who feed of this manufactured insecurity?

Makes me sick.

I see friends kids succumbing to it and it angers me. The influence is all pervasive, if you watch tv/movies and read print media.

Baino said...

Sad but true. I recently sent a wedding photo to a cyber friend who wanted to see what I looked like at 22. *long story* I hardly recognised myself. I hate my overweight body, I hate my hair ... I hate being my age and feeling 22 inside. I know it's wrong but just can't help it. I don't know how it happened, it just did. The reality is,no matter how wonderful the 'real' person is inside, outward appearance is how we're initially judged. I admire those less than beautiful things who can honestly say,"I'm comfortable with the way I am".

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Well, Nature in her wisdom gives us the great blessing of failing eyesight about the time we start not to look quite so good anymore.

It's just as bad to be adored for ones appearance as it is to be rejected for it, as neither is the real, inner person, just the wrapping.

If everyone looked exactly alike with interchangeable parts, it would be a very dull world indeed.

Nick said...

Muddy - It's a bit like worshipping the gods in ancient times, except that now people don't just worship, they want to be the gods themselves. Indeed, the money made out of creating these insecurities and then supposedly satisfying them is colossal.

Baino - Sorry to hear you feel like that, it's not healthy! As you say, the problem is our obsession with judging people by appearance, which is something we have very little control over.

Heart - I like the idea that failing eyesight eventually solves the problem! That's true, being adored is just as dangerous, because then you're devastated when your beauty begins to fade.

K8 the Gr8 said...

Beth Ditto is the current answer to fashion's anorexia problem.

Here she is in all her glory:

Is there no middle-ground? What on earth is wrong with the media?!

mary said...

Candle-light becomes me!

Nick said...

K8 - Ah yes, Beth Ditto, what a woman eh? There's someone who doesn't give a toss about body image. Plus she's a lesbian campaigning for gay rights. Excellent. What's wrong with the media? Their first priority is increased readership, so sensationalism and stick-thin celebs are the order of the day.

Mary - Dim lighting is always flattering. There's nothing so mortifying as bright lights that show up every flaw and blemish!

Queen Vixen said...

Its an epidemic. I blame the media, the fashion industry - the way us women buy into all that crap... and we do. Myself included. Women that dont tend to have had unconditional positive regard from their fathers. I have observed this time and time again. I wonder whether other people have noticed this. As a woman who mostly is ok with being a Goddess ie not a skinny clothes horse the negative, self destructive voice is always just a whisper away.

Thriftcriminal said...

Should read Affluenza, it has a fair bit to say about this and other western obsessions. Apparently Danish and Russian women have far healthier attitudes.

Nick said...

Vixen - The media and the fashion industry, absolutely. But it's not just negative attitudes from fathers. Judge Constance Briscoe was told repeatedly by her mother that she was ugly, and has had a lot of plastic surgery as an adult to restore her self-confidence. See her books Ugly and Beyond Ugly.

Thrifty - Haven't read it, but I gather it's about keeping up with the Joneses and wanting what you haven't got. Yes, if only we could accept what we're born with and not hanker after something else!

Medbh said...

It's easy to explain. We live in patriarchy where the division of the sexes into extreme polar opposites with compulsory femininity for women. Every inch of our bodies has to be scrutinized and maintained. Femininity boils down to just one big problem for women. We're told since birth that being pretty is the most important thing and if we're not, we're invisible.

Nick said...

You're right, Medbh, that's how it works. Women are expected to be feminine at all times, even if their real personality is totally at odds with this artificial concept. And yes, if you're not pretty you either become non-existent or a target for pitying whispers or open teasing.

Nicole said...

Great post Nick. Unfortunately, the cosmetics/beauty industry is a billion dollar money maker, so this all isn't likely to change soon. Even the new Dove campaigns, which promote a broader image of beauty, are still trying to sell you something that will make you "better". We women are bombarded with these images from birth and as we get older, we tend to be very hard on ourselves and each other. Something tells me that marriage and procreation would not cease if we ladies stopped dieting, waxing, coloring, lifting, tucking, etc.

Nick said...

Nicole, that's true, even the more enlightened Dove ads are still touting self-improvement. And good point that marriage and procreation wouldn't suddenly stop if women stopped beautifying. It would take more than that to keep men and women away from each other!

Los Angelista said...

Everything in moderation. I'm not stick-thin but so what? As long as I can run around after my kids, I'm happy! But most folks don't feel that way and it's sad because they don't enjoy their lives. They're too busy wishing they looked like someone else.

Nick said...

Indeed, Liz, as long as you're fit enough to run around and enjoy life, what's the problem? Better a happy heart than a perfect body.