Nobody looks like that

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Body image is such a hot topic right now.  If you haven’t seen any of the videos floating around the Internet that show how absolutely insane photoshopping models has gotten, I highly recommend this one, which shows a photograph of a real model transformed into a “magazine-ready” photo:

And also this video, which is done on a music video of this woman singing and being adjusted in video software as she sings.

And one of my favorites, four average women made to look like “cover-ready” models:

In all of these, the final part of the video shows the normal human next to the fully edited version.  In nearly every single one, you look at the photoshopped version of the woman and she looks like an alien next to a normal human.  It looks so foreign, and so far from what the woman actually looks like.  Even though I don’t buy magazines, I do go to clothing stores.  I’m active on pinterest occasionally.  And I watch movies and TV.  In all of these situations, the women being portrayed are not what women really look like.  Even the models and actresses don’t really look that good in real life.  And even though their real-life, non-edited bodies still look phenomenal next to the average woman, we forget that looking toned and thin is their full time job.  That is literally their only income is to be beautiful, so they can spend their time and their money on excellent quality food, hours on end at the gym with trainers, and paid staff to make their hair, makeup and wardrobe look flawless.

I’ve been reflecting on this a great deal lately.  While I have been working exceptionally hard to eat excellent food and exercise as much as I can, I have been holding in my head a standard for what I want myself to look like that is unrealistic.   This last weekend I spent the day at a resort in Chelan, WA for a bachelorette party.  Because it was a resort with a pool next to a lake, pretty much everyone there was walking around in just a bathing suit.   I knew this would be the case, and I was panicked about it. I don’t wear bathing suits. Like ever. Especially when I’m north of 200lbs, I feel like I’m doing a detriment to society when I wear a bathing suit in public.  This particular picture was taken on our honeymoon in July of 2011 where I was just shy of 200lbs and even in a country where nobody knew me, it was a “take a deep breath, Sarah, it’s going to be okay” moment.  We took this picture, but I didn’t even post it to Facebook.  I had to dig through old photos on an external hard drive to find it.  I’m pretty sure I’ve worn a bathing suit once since this picture was taken.

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But this was the agenda for the weekend – go swimming, go boating, have fun!  And I wasn’t going to be the girl in jeans and a T-Shirt saying “I don’t wear bathing suits” and making everyone feel uncomfortable.  So I decided to don this very suit and, armed with a swimsuit cover-up scarf, I just went for it.  I wore a bathing suit for hours on end, in public, and it wasn’t a big deal.  Nobody said “OH MY GOD, put your clothes on!  You are SO fat!”  Nobody laughed at me.  Nobody probably even thought those things.  In fact, I got a few compliments on my suit cover-up.  People looked at me in that suit and thought “She looks cute!”  They did not think “Ew, gross.”  And even if they did, they kept it to themselves.  Here’s the kicker for me – I really don’t think very many women go around harshly judging every outfit and makeup and strand of fuzzy hair on every single woman they see.  Sure, sometimes we see someone in an outrageous outfit and think “Wow, I would never wear that!”  But who cares?  That person obviously is comfortable wearing it and that is their absolute right.

My other mind-blowing moment of the weekend was this – watching everyone else in their suits.  Sure, you could say this contradicts what  I just said about women not judging each other, but I don’t think so.  What I observed was – almost NO ONE had a truly flat stomach.  That always seemed like my very biggest flaw in life is that I have never had a flat stomach and that somehow I was supposed to.  But I looked around at these women in their 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and I had a revelation.  Even the girls who are at healthy weights, the girls who are in great shape – nearly all of them still have a little bit of a belly.  And it’s not a bad thing.  It is normal for women to carry a little bit of extra body fat on their torso.  It doesn’t make them fat.  It doesn’t make them ugly.  It makes them normal.  There were women at the resort who probably wear a size 14 who were in two piece bathing suits.  And nobody made fun of them.  They were comfortable in their own skin, they were confident, and it shone through.  They looked good!  This blew my mind.

10609675_10152638477640135_3566532787541288608_n It gave me the confidence to wear a tank dress without a shrug again.  I haven’t done that in years.  It’s not even that big of a deal – just this small piece of fabric that helps me feel more secure.  But it was SO HOT that night, and I realized, “I don’t want to wear this.  And I don’t need to wear this.”  So I didn’t.

This isn’t to say that I don’t need to weigh less.  I really believe I do.  And I will continue to work on that every minute of every day.  But it will not be because I think I look fat and it’s a detriment to society for people to have to look at fat people.  I’ll post later this week about my motivations for my own personal weight-loss (and how it’s going!) but you can guarantee that “to have a flat stomach so people don’t judge me” is not on my list.  And it shouldn’t be on yours either!  Be the best you that you can be, and don’t try to live up to the “industry standard” of beauty.  Because nobody looks like that.  Today, I will choose to be happy with how I look, and know that I am doing what I do best – being me!

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Comments
One Response to “Nobody looks like that”
  1. Shayna Bayna says:

    Empowering and encouraging! Thanks for taking time to always post about applicable, important topics! I find council in your words of wisdom. You rock!!

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