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Constant Weight and Body Image Scrutiny

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Our Bodies and Their Inescapable Scrutiny?

I'm happy with my body, but sometimes this happiness is deterred by criticism from others. I look in the mirror and I like what I see. I've long realized I can't expect myself to be perfect, and I’ve accepted and even embraced how I look—flaws and all. 

My body positivity has been disrupted however in the past when people have said, "You should eat more," or, "You're so skinny" in a disparaging tone. And that's when my mind started to race, and new thoughts occurred: Maybe I'm not good enough. Maybe despite what I thought when I looked in the mirror this morning, I don’t actually look good. And self-doubt creeps in, threatening to take control over what had previously been confidence. 


Self-doubt is one of the most crippling, dangerous, and unnecessary feelings in life. Self-doubt can lead to many other harmful thoughts and actions. Self-doubt is also a lie. It's a socially constructed lie that once manifested, is hard to get rid of. It's a lie, but in our minds it seems to be what the whole world thinks, even if only a handful of people contributed to its inception.

Some people might think: So if you're skinny, why are you complaining? I do recognize that there is an ongoing obsession in certain pockets of our society with being skinny. These certain pockets, such as the fashion industry or Hollywood, are unfortunately prominent and hard to escape. But they’re not necessarily representative of the real world where beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For the most part, everyone has different ideals of beauty, and everyone is attracted to different things. One person might think you're too skinny or not skinny enough, but someone else out there might think you're perfect. Since there are too many possibilities of what one might find attractive or not, it’s simply not possible to please them all.
This isn't a commentary on how skinny girls have it worse, or how plus-size girls have it worse. The reality is that we ALL become targets of criticism for our weight or our appearance at one point or another. It's not an exclusive event to only one body size. Considering that I, as someone with a petite figure, (which is the supposed “ideal size”) has been victim of criticism, it clearly doesn’t matter what you look like. Nobody can escape the scrutiny. We're all either too skinny or too fat in different people's eyes. No matter how hard you try to please everyone, judgment is inevitable. Instead of worrying about what others think of you, do what makes you feel good and healthy. Healthy and happy is the goal, not somebody else’s narrow perception of beauty.


Although we might not all agree on what's beautiful or not (which is actually a really amazing thing), I think we can all agree that anorexia and obesity are unhealthy lifestyles. But it's really not up to the general public to go around diagnosing other people and making assumptions about their body. It's up to a professional such as a doctor, or nutritionist. Or perhaps even a close friend or family member that has firsthand knowledge of that person’s eating habits. Otherwise, it's not in our place to make rash comments. Both these extremes can be consequences of such unwarranted criticism. For some individuals, bullying can drive them to overeat or purge in harmful ways, prompting even more bullying and unhappiness. It's a vicious and unfair cycle, but not impossible to break out of, or avoid getting warped into.

When living in an often objectifying and over-sexualizing society, it’s hard for women to not be hyper-aware of their bodies and how attractive others may deem it to be. But women, and men, are more than just bodies to look at. We are capable of so much more. From the way a runner’s feet can hit the pavement one after the other while running a marathon, their muscles propelling them forward. To the way dancers gracefully execute a pirouette. Or the impressive force swimmers exert to slice their bodies through water, and how skateboarders almost defy gravity as they land 360 flip tricks. To even the seemingly simple things our bodies can do like warming a loved one with our embrace. Keep in mind that our bodies are capable, intricate and sophisticated works of art, no matter what they may look like.

“A tiger doesn’t lose sleep over the opinion of a sheep” – Unknown

Karen Morales
Emerson College
Follow me a Twitter @karencecixoxo

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