We Are Hurting Our Womenfolk, And Ourselves

28 May

Another week, another status on facebook. A joke at the expense of some severely overweight person who ‘should just stop eating all the pies’, or something similar. There is such hatred, judgement and contempt aimed at people with weight issues.

A clarification, for the purposes of this post. When i refer to overweight people here, i am talking about severely overweight people, people who are suffering serious health problems because of their weight. I am not talking about slightly overweight people or people who could use loosing a few pounds.

These days, when people starve themselves to death, we understand it is an emotional condition, a mental illness, a sickness. We call it Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa. We don’t fully understand it yet, because the research is still in its infancy, but we do recognise it is a mental health problem and we try to help these people.

When people eat themselves to death, we point and laugh at them. We stare at them in the street and judge them. We make facebook status’ to share the laugh with our friends. As a society, we have very little compassion for these people.

It is a completely outdated and unhelpful attitude. Eating yourself to death is disordered eating behaviour, just as starving yourself to death is. I’ve never heard someone say about an anorexic ‘she should just eat something!’. If anyone did, they would be viewed as ignorant, at best. Anyone who has suffered any kind of mental health problem will tell you, it is precisely this attitude and stigma that can sometimes prevent real advances in the treatment and prevention of it.

There is hope. 30 years ago, we didn’t fully recognise Anorexia or Bulima as mental health issues. Hopefully, 30 years from now, we’ll better understand people suffering from the other extreme, so that we can help them too.

I feel i am able to talk with some degree of understanding on these issues because i myself have always suffered with disorder eating behaviours. I have been dangerously thin (around eight stone, which is bad considering I’m quite tall for a woman at 5’7) and dangerously fat (at my heaviest I’m not sure exactly what i weighed, cos i wouldn’t weigh myself, but i was definitely in excess of 17 stone).

Now, i’m a bit heavier than what i’d like to be and should be, but i’m not overly concerned about it. I watch what i eat cos i don’t wanna put more weight on, and i have some vague ideas about going on a proper diet, but iΒ  am trying to find a healthy balance; I must accept my curves and the things that make me a woman, i must not become a complacent unshapely blob, i must not become an obsessive skeleton woman.Β  Last time i weighed myself, i was about 11 stone. Not huge, but could do with a few cycle rides πŸ˜‰

It’s difficult, considering the constant bombardment from the media, from everywhere, telling me that what i am is wrong, telling me i should be leaner, more toned, less curvy, my legs should be longer, more tanned, my bum firmer, my tits more pert, my skin more radiant, my feet smaller, my eyelashes longer, my eyebrows thinner, my cheekbones more defined, my hands more effeminate, my posture more confident, my movements more graceful…on and on forever.

It seems every advert, film, book, newspaper, shop, train, website, TV channel is overflowing with images of airbrushed fantasy beauty. It is all the time, everywhere and has been for so long that we now believe this is how women should look. Even us women believe it.

Look around you in the REAL world, at the shops, in the office, at school, on the bus, and count how many people look like the woman the media thrusts upon us, in reality? If you find one, please send me a picture.

It is indoctrinated from such a young age. For example, if Barbie was a real woman, she’d be so out of proportion with herself , that she’d be unable to support her own body weight. In short, she’d be crippled because her waist is too small, her tits too big, her legs too long and thin and she wouldn’t have enough space for herΒ  skeleton and organs to develop and function correctly. She is the ultimate example of how a woman should not look, yet we give her to our daughters to idolize at a very vulnerable developmental stage.

The message is: if you do not fulfil or match up (to a completely unrealistic and unobtainable ideal, if i haven’t been clear!) then you are less than inadequate, you are worthless, invalid, you are not a female. You are a ridiculous parody of what you are trying to be. You are unsexy and unworthy of attention from anyone.

Work hard, kill yourself working in a soulless job you despise, so that you can afford to buy the right makeup, the right clothes, the right hairstyle, fake tan, shoes, lacy underwear, botox, false eyelashes, boob implants, liposuction, teeth veneers, moisturizer, anti-aging cream, colonic fucking irrigation. Then you’ll be beautiful, valid, worthwhile.

No, wait. You won’t because it’s NOT REAL. You’ll feel like a tranny, a man masquerading as a woman.Β  Better get back to work, earn some more monies, buy some more shit…

We are damaging our daughters with this crap from before they are old enough to walk. There is no escaping it; it is insiduous to society.

Everywhere you look you can see these broken women, scrambbling for love, attention, for something to cling onto, because they believed the lies, they believed that they were worthless, they believed that if they brought the right bullshit, then they would be worthwhile. They believed that the solution to their feelings of worthlessness were avaliable somewhere outside of themselves, for a price. But with every new anti-aging cream, every new life threatening operation to make their tits bigger or their skin smoother, they lost some of themselves, some of their strength, a little bit more of their shattered self-esteem. Cos it didn’t work…they still aren’t good enough. Women like Jordan or that cat woman lady from America. Train-wreck women.

Don’t listen to it. Don’t pass it on to your babies.

They don’t want you to wake up, to realise the truth, to stop buying their bollocks. Don’t let them win. Don’t let them get you believing you’re anything less than a beautiful enchantress, who contains within her all the questions and all the answers to life and love and the universe. Because you do, and you are.

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22 Responses to “We Are Hurting Our Womenfolk, And Ourselves”

  1. roughseasinthemed May 28, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    A subject dear to my heart. Not just from a feminist perspective (that just explains the rationale), but also from a philosophical perspective about judging anyone on their appearance – and – feeling compelled to look at our own self-image through someone else’s eyes.

    I was 5’9″ and eight and a half stone for ages, with the occasional increase to nine. I’m around nine now but with an oddly different shape. Middle-aged and finally got a few curves πŸ˜€

    I cut my own hair when the fringe gets too long and I notice split ends. I can’t be bothered with make-up. I think it makes me look worse πŸ˜€ My clothes are simple and cheap (they used not to be!). But I do think I’m writing with hindsight.

    That is a good photo to use as an example. It looks terrible. We are obsessionally fattist. But as well as mental health issues I think there are a lot of sociological issues involved. Advertising, life-style, lack of time, the list is endless.

    Your parallel is right, people who are fat to extreme aka obese and with health problems are just the other end of the spectrum to excessively thin people. They deserve compassion not insults and abuse.

    • fringewalk May 28, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

      Are you ust naturally very thin, or do you think you had an eating disorder?
      Sounds like you are in a much healthier place, i hope most of us will join you one day πŸ™‚
      I think you’re right in saying that there is a plathora of psycho-social reasons for these problems, this post only covers a drop in the ocean.

      • roughseasinthemed May 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

        Naturally thin, my father’s side of the family all were. Ate loads as a kid, my mother was a great home cook (as was her mother before her). I think I probably have a pretty fast metabolism too. I don’t think a few pounds, or whatever matter, so long as people feel healthy within themselves.

        One of the issues that I was suggesting is a big issue is diet though. That’s why I mentioned time. People not having time to prepare and cook fresh food. Or even having knowledge?

        Although I’m now vegetarian, even when I wasn’t I ate the same way, no oven ready meals, fresh veg and/or salad and a carb. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so no dessert, biscuits, chocolate, soft drink – you get the idea. I do think food is so important for our bodies – how else does it keep going? So to me, it needs some thought, and not just ‘grab a bite’.

        But yes, that is also a drop in the ocean. There are so many other aspects. You could make a series of blog posts on this topic and still couldn’t cover it all!

      • fringewalk May 28, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

        I do think there is a lack of real education re: proper nutrtion/diet, and that attributes to the problem; people don’t realise how far removed their diets are now (convienience/junk food etc) from what we might naturally consume before the mcdonald-ization of society. I reckon this is being adressed, but slowly and sometimes in a condesending mannor, which doesn’t help.
        While i was at uni they were piloting something called ‘The Food Dude Programe’ aimed at educating very young children on the importants of fresh fruit n veg, through cartoons and aspirational charactors that the kids were seen to model their behaviour on. A step in the right direction.
        I remember on the Jamie Oliver series where he tried to make school dinners more healthy, and was met by furious opposition from some parents, there was a scene where they were interviewing one of the mothers who was very against the changes.
        She had a very young baby in her arms and the narrator need not say a thing, as the camera panned in to to bottle of coca-cola she was feeding her child.

  2. Kyle May 28, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    this is fantastic and so needs saying

    • fringewalk May 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      Wow! Thanks πŸ™‚ Most pleasing comment i’ve had πŸ™‚ x

  3. halfwaybetweenthegutter May 28, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    This is amazing! It’s like you’ve reached into my brain and said all the words I want to about the messed-up way women (and men) are made to feel inferior.

    I like to think I’m at least of average intelligence. I read a lot, got amazing exam results, can hold my own in a debate… but I can’t stop myself comparing my body to supermodels and film stars. The rational part of me knows it’s entirely fruitless – body image doesn’t count half as much as I think, and I’m never going to be a supermodel because I’m not built for it – but then an irrational voice sneaks in and suggests I could perhaps lose some weight. You know, because I’ll look better.

    I have a boyfriend who loves me and compliments me regularly on both my looks and my brain. He’s perfect in every way. Still, I question my body when he sees me naked. I think about my wobbly thighs and big bum; parts of me he adores, but I hate.

    Why should it matter? Surely if a guy is willing to watch me walk around naked and give me a wolf-whistle, my own insecurities shouldn’t even feature? Still, they do.

    As a woman, I’m constantly being told I should use face cream and mascara. I should tone up. I should lose weight. I should buy a push-up bra. I should have highlights. Jimmy Choo shoes. A year-round tan. Lip implants. I should wax. Have liposuction. Breast implants. Lip gloss. A handbag…

    I’m not that sort of woman, and wouldn’t want to be. I wear make-up because I like how it brings out my features… so why should I listen to articles telling me how to make other women jealous wiith my amazing new eyeshadow?

    I’m currently overweight. Why? Because I’ve been happy in my relationship, and been made to feel secure in myself. Yet society seems to think it’s a terrible thing. I’m dieting to lose the weight I’ve put on – for health reasons. No more. I have arthritis and I know it’ll help.

    If I tell someone I’m on a diet, they always tell me I don’t need to lose weight.

    Nothing about self-image and the way we treat others makes sense.

    • fringewalk May 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      YES! Its so confusing. The things that really disturbs me about it is, 90% of the time, its women judging other women, putting each other down, perpetuating the myth that we should be a certain way. Even though i know this and i hate it, i am sometimes guilty of it myself. Madness.
      I’m the same- i had a bf who really did fancy me,24/7, but i still did not believe him, it still wasn’t enough, i still wasn’t good enough in my own head.
      When thinking, conscious women like us can’t stop it, i fear it is unstoppable.
      Good luck with the diet and feeling healthier – i salute you! πŸ˜‰ x

      • halfwaybetweenthegutter May 28, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

        My boyfriend and I were talking about this issue a couple of days ago; and we came to the conclusion that it’s nearly always women making other women feel inferior. As my boyfriend put it, “men just want an easy life, we don’t care if you have stretchmarks”.

        I just don’t get why we’ve become a culture of knocking others down for their looks. I suppose looks have always been important to humans in some way, but I honestly can’t see a way of escaping it. I avoid magazines and television which I know will push the ideal image at me. I avoid people who preach about how important beauty regimes are. Still… I walk past a bus stop and have to see a Photoshopped model, all angles and shiny skin and long legs, staring at me. Telling me I’m not good enough.

        I’ve suffered from eating disorders for most of my life. The media isn’t to blame for that; I created it myself. But it certainly hasn’t helped my recovery; it’s hard to do the right thing health-wise when everything seems to focus on size-zero.

        Thanks πŸ™‚ It’s a bit up and down, but I’ve lost half a stone. x

      • fringewalk May 28, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

        That’s brilliant! Well done you! πŸ˜€ x

  4. Rescuing Little L May 29, 2012 at 12:48 am #

    Amen sister! We do need to pass this on to our babies, sisters, mothers and all women who get up in the morning and start the hate fest on their bodies….How desperately we want to be accepted just as we are and not judged on our physical attributes only. I just concentrate on being the healthiest person I can, emotionally, spiritually and physically….Good stuff!!!

    • fringewalk May 29, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      That is the best way to be πŸ™‚ x

  5. Kyle May 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Reblogged this on kylemew.com and commented:
    if you are not following this blog… why?

  6. paulaacton May 29, 2012 at 1:36 pm #

    I have always battled with my weight but was always of the mind set I would always enjoy my food and work it off until my back went. then the pounds ppiled on through comfort eating, medication and being unable to exercise. afew weeks ago I started seeing a dieticain after being referred through my gp and have realised a lot of my problems were not actually what I ate but the amount. By that I do not mean I sat eating piles of sweets and loaves of bread at a time I just mean the actual amount of normal food at each meal. I dont know if you have noticed but these days if you go to buy new dinner plates they are much larger than they used to be, our brains automatically make us fill the plate as we serve up and lets face it most of us were brought up to ‘finish everything on your plate’. just by eating smaller meals and ensuring I have the right balance of food groups my weight is on the move now again but I think it is a trap that lots fall into in this now ‘supersized’ world.

    • paulaacton May 29, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      I just nominated you for an award at http://paulaacton.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/the-inspiring-blogger-award/ mainly I admit for this blog but i did get chance to take a quick peek at a couple of others I think you have a knack of drawing attention to serious issues and addressing them in a way which is engaging and informative

      • fringewalk May 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

        :O thank you very much! Im very touched. REALLY appreciate your very kind words, this blog lark is so much more fulfilling when people express resonance with something you wrote. Many thanks :))

    • fringewalk May 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm #

      Totally agree. These days everything seems to be ‘king size’, ‘big eat’ or ‘super sized’. The hormonal cues that signal from our stomachs to our brains and let us know we’re full are really sensitive to routine, and stop working if we consistently overeat, meaning we can eat even more!
      Im really happy that you’ve been wise and brave enough to do address your problem and wish you all the very best in continuing, and especially in feeling better. Lots of Love x

  7. Boomie Bol May 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Just so well written and contains profound truth…thanks for sharing this.

    • fringewalk May 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

      What a lovely thing to say – thankyou very much! πŸ™‚

  8. Karmic Diva May 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    This is a great post. There is so much truth to it. Thanks for sharing. Not everyone is meant to be a perfect 10 or a barbie doll.

  9. averystrangeplace June 4, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    Actually, Barbie is even worse than that. Her proportions are such that it would shatter every bone in her body.
    The lesson here: Never trust a toy based off of a German porn star.

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