My grandmother had far fewer options as a woman than I do today. Yep, she had the right to vote, she was 8 years old when women were first allowed to vote, but she was only able to go to school until the 8th grade. My grandmother loved school so much that she repeated the 8th grade just to get more education. Her job options were few and the expectation of her was that to be a successful woman she must get married and have children. She raised 6 children and endured a life that much of my family does not speak about. My grandmother was one of the strongest women I have known. She was gracious, loving, prayerful, and quiet. She was known for never saying an ill word about another. I can’t remember ever hearing my grandmother say a negative thing about another person, she truly lived by “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That quality, the ability to keep your mouth shut, I have to say, was not passed down to me. I say pretty much what is on my mind. As such, I have something to say about the way I see women treating other women.
Too fat, too skinny, too muscular, too flabby, flat chested, implants, big butt, no butt, long legs, too short, thick, athletic, chubby, overweight, rotund, obese, fluffy, twiggy, voluptuous, curvy, pear, apple, boyish,– and the words go on and on. Seems there are a million ways to describe a woman’s body and as many values and judgments placed on women to correspond with the words that are spoken, slung, hurled, and jabbed in her direction.
When did it become socially acceptable to attack a woman’s figure for what you think it is or isn’t for that matter? I guess the better question is when will it no longer be acceptable? There are so many different body types, each matching an individual woman, thankfully we don’t all look the same. Our interests, strengths, thoughts, needs, and desires are as varied as our waist to hip ratio. Yet it is a single number that we are most judged for. When will the madness stop of judging women by their waist size? Men carry their fair share of responsibility in objectifying women, but I tell you this, it’s been a very long time since a man told me all the things that are wrong with my body, however, I can guarantee that just yesterday a woman was busting out of her skin to tell me (or someone else) what is wrong with my body.
Woman stand on their soap box and cry out for bullying to be stopped, for the girls of the next generation to be able to grow up with healthy self-esteem and body image. Magazines and the fashion industry are blamed for setting unrealistic expectations of our young women, teaching them that their worth is based on a particular clothing size. Men are blamed for perpetuating body image issues, after all, some men gawk and stare… Why, though, do women not see their role in this devaluation of other women. I have recently seen multiple comments in social media discussing women’s figures – “Bones are for dogs, real men like a woman with some meat” or some nonsense like that. First of all, really? I mean, REALLY? There are so many disturbing aspects to this kind of statement. Women are far more than an object of meat and personally I find it offensive to be compared to a meal, but maybe that’s just me. What does this statement say about men? They are either dogs or real men based on the women they are attracted to? And further, skinny women get dogs as opposed to real men? What is up with that?
A fitness magazine recently posted a picture of a woman online along with a promotional ad about weight loss. The comments on this picture broke my heart. Woman after woman was bashing the woman featured in the photo, literally attacking every aspect of her physique from her breasts to her proportions to her rear end. One woman even referred to her as “not a REAL woman”. What does that even mean? As if in order to be a REAL woman she must fit into a particular mold. Isn’t that the same ignorant view that the poster was trying to speak out against? Judging this woman for her body type is grossly simplifying the value that she brings to the world and is exactly what we should be raging against and not perpetuating. How can women, as a gender, stand up and ardently fight for our daughters to have healthy self-esteem, boycott Abercrombie and Fitch, and campaign against bullying only to turn right around and shred another woman for the way she looks. Women teaching girls to uplift one another instead of tearing each other down would go a lot further in instilling self-esteem and health body image. Tearing down another woman doesn’t make you appear smarter, happier, or more attractive, it does just the opposite. So perhaps it’s time to stop worrying about what another woman looks like and start encouraging her in her endeavors, lift her up in her sorrows, and reassure her that her worth is not determined by the size of her jeans. What a powerful force to be reckoned with – women supporting and encouraging other women. Once we begin to see ourselves and our sisters as more than objectifiable objects judged only on their physical appearance, then and only then will we truly recognize the power, influence, and possibility that we embody.