Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Body image

One of the things I found surprisingly refreshing about The Hunger Games movie was that the heroine (played by Jennifer Lawrence) was not rail-thin. I felt like she looked a little more like me than most female stars. (Notice I said "a little"; I haven't deluded myself into thinking I'm that fit!)

So, it angered me, although it didn't really surprise me, to hear that many reviewers had criticized her as being too big to play Katniss. Oh, sure, they justified it by saying that Katniss is supposed to be starving for most of the novel. But, the same thing applies to the male actors, who aren't scrawny, and no one's criticizing them. The scrutiny women receive about their weight is completely ridiculous. And the range of acceptable weight between "too thin" and "full-figured" (which, let's be honest, is not usually used in a positive way) seems to be minuscule.

I like to think I'm not affected by this pressure to be extremely thin. But, I don't think that's true. I've gotten back on the eating healthy/exercise bandwagon, and I'm creeping closer to the lowest weight I've been in the past 6 years, at least. I plan to stop at that point. I feel good about the progress I've made, and I know I'm healthier. But still, still I find myself pinching fat in the mirror, thinking that my thighs are a little too big, wishing I had a flatter chest so I could look smaller. I know it's crazy, but I still do it. (I realize this sounds a little bit like I'm developing an eating disorder, but I'm definitely not close to that.) I'm just always thinking (and I think many women think the same way): I'll be completely happy with my body when I lose 5 pounds, or completely eliminate my love handles, or get rid of all of my arm flab. But, it's not true. Even if I did accomplish all those things, I'd still find something to criticize.

And I think that disparaging comments about beautiful, healthy women do contribute to this constant identifying of flaws in my own body.

As I get closer to (hopefully) having children, I think a lot about the example I want to be for them. And, if I have a little girl, I definitely don't want her to be critical of her appearance. So, if I don't want it for her, why would I want it for myself?

So, I'm resolving right now to try to reduce the amount of time I spend thinking about what I need to "fix." I still think it's important for me to maintain my weight, because this is my natural weight when I eat healthily and exercise regularly, which I should be doing all the time. But, I don't want to spend time identifying flaws or bemoaning things about my body that are never going to change. There are so many better things I could be thinking about. Like knitting! :)

1 comment:

Mica said...

Oh man, I definitely could have written this post (except I'm not seeing "The Hunger Games" until tomorrow, finally!).

I am really working hard on accepting my body the way it is AND on my relationship with food. (I hate saying that--it makes me feel disordered.) We can talk this out during knitting club, fo' sho'.

I don't want kiddos anytime soon, but I know exactly how you feel! One of my main motivations for getting my habits down is so that I won't model anything negative to a daughter (or any other little girl/boy).