Comfortable in your own skin.
Do you feel any of these things? Or like me, are you lacking in confidence and very self-critical?
I’m somebody who has never felt particularly happy or confident in how I look (even half satisfied would do). And I know I’m not alone in this. I’d go as far as to say that I currently feel worse about myself aesthetically than I ever have done. But more recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about exactly why this is. Is it something within me that makes me feel this way? Or am I influenced by the influx of supposed “perfect” imagery that we’re constantly ambushed with via social media and Photoshop?
I’ve carried out a bit of personal research recently and I’m going to make a bold statement now but, please bear with me:
Women are a huge part of the reason as to why other women feel crap about themselves.
Let that sink in and I’ll attempt to explain why I’ve made such a statement.
I have found that so many women seem intent on bashing other women and dragging them down. I’m unsure as to the reasons behind this, but it is most definitely omnipresent everywhere I’ve looked. And not even just on social media. I’ve also overheard conversations and been on the receiving end of language that I find, quite frankly, damaging. Even if it wasn’t intended to be.
I feel as if I have so much to write about on this subject and as I’m still fairly new to blogging, I really don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent. I’m going to try my best – although I do feel that I’ll probably still go off on a tangent, so apologies in advance!
There’s no denying that the media/fashion world has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years when it comes to the representation of the female form. There are way more plus-sized models currently working than there ever was. The term “plus-sized” is still somewhat of a sticking point for me though, as the general consensus seems to be that many plus-sized models are, well… very much “normal-sized”. Whatever NORMAL means?
For instance, I was holiday shopping a few months ago and found this on Boohoo:
How, on God’s green earth, can this woman be classed as plus-sized? It makes zero sense to me.
As mentioned, I do feel that some media outlets are trying their best to big women up. More recently, the presenters of Loose Women all posed for a photoshoot to demonstrate the vast variety of women’s body shapes. Every single one of them looked brilliant:
But I still feel that there’s a looooooong way to go. Remember the whole “Beach Body Ready” campaign from a few years ago? I was happy to see society fight back at this, I have to say:
I was sat with my Mum a few weeks ago and she was watching QVC (other shopping channels are available…) They were flogging a range of women’s clothing and had a couple of women out on a catwalk modelling some kind of tunic top. I wasn’t paying all that much attention until I heard the woman presenter say this:
“And you won’t find any size 8’s or 10’s here because this range is for REAL women!” This leads me onto my next rant, which is the use of damaging language – online, on TV and in the real world.
The term “real women” absolutely boils. my. blood! I just can’t abide it.
What exactly is a real woman anyway? Surely any woman, who is living and breathing, whether a size 4 or size 34 is a real woman? Or are we all imposters? Are we all actually robots or an alien species and nobody bothered to tell us?
Get the hell out with your “real women” bull! I feel as if this is some of the most damaging language out there.
Look at some of this crap for instance:
(Don’t even get me started on why these memes are about what men want either, as that’s a whole other post right there – but I think you’ll see what I’m getting at).
No two people on the planet are exactly the same (don’t come at me with any identical twin stuff please, nobody likes a smart-arse 😂). Our differences are what makes us all interesting and beautiful, in our OWN ways. There’s no blueprint. Each individual person is different from the next. But we’re all here, just trying to live our best lives. Who is anyone else to sit there and say that the next person isn’t “real”? Just because they don’t fit into THEIR narrow-minded ideal?
I can look at so many different women of all shapes and sizes and see beauty. But there is so much language out there that grinds my gears. And it’s usually always being used by other women. Why do we do this to ourselves?!
The “real women have curves” one has been bandied about for a long time now and probably resonates with me the most as I’ve never been a particularly “curvy” woman. So, according to this saying then, I’m not real. I am a figment of your imagination. Not sure who is currently typing this post, but it surely can’t be me! I’m not going to lie, this saying has made me feel like utter shit in the past. Is this why I’m single? Is this why nobody ever seems to fancy me? Would I be better off getting a boob job? And if I did, would I be doing that to please myself or to please other people?
But there’s a newer saying I’ve seen a lot of which has started to irritate me too. It’s usually found as a hashtag on Instagram fitness accounts: “Strong not skinny”.
Why can’t it just be “strong”? Whether that be physically or mentally. Why does it have to negate something else in the process of making a statement? It’s stating a positive, which I am all for, but at the expense of bringing something else down. It’s bloody rubbish as well as you can also get many a “skinny” girl who is actually rather physically strong. Looks can be deceiving!
Both “real women have curves” and “strong not skinny” go some way towards proving that there is also such a thing as skinny-shaming as well as fat-shaming out there.
(Sidenote, a person may be skinny but that does not mean that they are hungry/starving themselves!)
On a personal level, I’m a woman who has never majorly struggled with their weight. I’ve been heavier than I am at the moment but I have never worn a dress size any bigger than a 12. Within the last couple of years though I decided to make a bit of a change. I realised that I probably wasn’t eating the most nutritious diet, nor was I really partaking in any form of exercise.
Having a desk job, I was obviously sat on my backside for the majority of the day, then coming home and proceeding to sit on my backside for the remainder of the day. I decided it wasn’t such a good idea to be so stationery all the time, so I joined a gym and changed up my eating habits.
I didn’t overdo it, I went to the gym 3 times a week for an hour a time. That was it. As I bloody hate the gym!! In terms of food, I just made more sensible choices and tried to cut back on stuff that I knew wasn’t that great for me. That’s not to say that I never have treats as I think I’d go bat-shit if I didn’t. It took some time, but eventually my body shape did begin to change a bit and I also lost a few pounds in the process. Nothing major though, I’m literally only 9 pounds lighter than I was before I started all of this.
But one major change I did notice was how people, sorry – WOMEN – responded to me. Friends, family members and co-workers all had something to say and I’m sad to report that the majority of it was negative.
“What do you want to do all that for? You’re already slim!”
“You’ve gone boring now. Won’t even bother asking if you want a crisp as you’re bound to say no”.
“Hope you put a matchstick in each ear for when you’re out walking – will save you from falling down a grid!”
“You looked better before”.
“You look gaunt now”.
It’s made me feel really down if I’m perfectly honest. It baffles me how taking regular exercise and eating fairly sensibly for the most part can be viewed as such a bad thing. I’ve honestly felt demonised at times.
My personal trainer at the time noticed that I seemed a bit off during a session once. So I told him about some of the comments above. He was not the least bit surprised by anything that I said. In fact, he told me that so many of his female clients tell him the same thing – that they’re being bashed constantly by other women. He said that this is something that he pretty much never encounters with his male clients. Why are we like this?!
This also transfers to social media but in my opinion, it’s a million times worse on there. There’s no real comeback is there? If somebody comments negatively on a post or a photo that you put out there, what can really be done?
I mean, you can tell that person that they’re out of order and block them. But I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t put them off doing the same thing to another person. Social media seems to give people some mad kind of bravado. I can guarantee that the majority of those lording it about on there would not have the audacity to repeat that same bile to somebody’s face.
And it seems that if you dare to complain about being spoken to badly, it’s somehow your fault because you posted it. You put it out there on a public forum. So you should therefore “expect” it. What a load of rubbish. I believe that there’s a massive difference between being honest versus being an arsehole. I give you this:
Susan: “Do you like my new dress for the weekend?” (parades around in it, gives a little twirl)
Janet: “It’s nice Susan but I feel as if it doesn’t show your fab figure off enough, have you got a belt to cinch it in a bit?”
Now isn’t that much better than:
Susan: “Do you like my new dress for the weekend?” (parades around in it, gives a little twirl)
Janet: “It’s making you look like a sack of spuds, Susan. Why on earth did you choose that?”
See the difference? It costs absolutely nothing to just be bloody nice! And if you don’t have anything nice to say, why upset someone’s day? Just keep it to yourself.
I no longer buy “women’s magazines” and I haven’t for some time now. But when I cast my mind back to when I read the likes of Heat, Closer, Star, New and so on, there’s one thing I always remember – the articles where women were being bashed. They were having what was viewed as their flaws, splashed across front pages or a double-page spread. Who remembers the “Circle of Shame” or the “Hoop of Horror”? Whereby a lady’s cellulite was zoomed into and boldly circled?
It didn’t have to be cellulite of course. If could also be a sweat patch, a bit of unruly tit tape, maybe even a bogey. There was also many an article on “stars without make up – what they REALLY look like!” With a goal of showing celebrity women at their absolute roughest.
I think it’s a given that most women look a lot different without make up. Let’s not even try to factor in any other reasons as to why they may not be presenting as they usually do. They could’ve been up all night ill and are just nipping to the shops when a pap pops up and snaps away. They could’ve received some of the worst news of their lives the day before and spent the entire night sobbing before facing the world again. But HA! Look at those dark circles/wrinkles/spots/blotchy patches. It’s just appalling.
But the worst thing about these articles for me, is that they come from magazines with female editors. So once again, it’s WOMEN approving these articles where women are being bashed for their looks and bodies. I can’t speak for how these magazines report now, as stated, I no longer buy them. A Google search tells me that apparently Heat magazine at least has done away with these articles. But the fact that they were even a thing in the first place unsettles me though.
I was watching The Graham Norton Show a few months ago and one of his guests was the actor Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who was wearing an outfit which was slashed to the navel:
I know I’m a bit weird, but I always like to check the Twitter hashtag for lots of programmes I’m watching. I think it’s my nosey side, as I like to see what everyone else is thinking whilst watching it too. Anyways, there were many a negative tweet discussing Phoebe’s choice of outfit. Rather unsurprisingly, they were nearly all from women. I’ve removed their names though as I’m not a total cow. But feast your eyes:
One tweet I did happen to see though, in support of her – hurrah! – was from a man:
Why exactly are women doing this to each other? The mind boggles. Does it stem from one’s own insecurities? Is there some kind of misplaced jealousy at play? Are we feeling threatened somehow? Or, are what appears to be a lot of women, just downright nasty?
Have you experienced negative or judgemental comments from other women? How have you dealt with these? Are you guilty of it yourself, sometimes without even realising? I’m not going to pretend I’m a saint – I think I probably have done it myself at times without realising.
We’re living in a time when, 100 years after women FINALLY won the right to vote, we are still swimming against the tide in so many aspects of life. We should be raising each other up, not doing all we can to bury each other. What the hell ladies?! We totally need to look after each other so much more than we currently are.
I love a good quote, so I’m going to wrap up this post with a few of my favourites: