We live in this choke-hold by the media that splashes manipulated images of what looks "pretty" or "beautiful" everywhere. Models are sickeningly thin, far from the average weight of a young woman. They have breast implants, lips plumped, fat sucked, fake tans, insanely white teeth, etc. If they haven't physically altered their bodies, once the photos have been taken, the editors Photoshop the image until it appears that way.
In reality, we then have young girls that look in the mirror and feel ugly, because their reflection is not the same as what is produced by the media. We have heavy set girls that want nothing more than lose some weight and are bullied. There are skinny girls that are lacking curves and are stuffing their bras, or wish they could have implants. Average sized girls that have eating disorders because they feel that they aren't "thin enough". All of these girls, thin or heavy, are lacking confidence and have low self esteem.
You don't NEED it to make you beautiful. You don't NEED it in order to walk out of your house. You don't NEED it run a quick errand. YOU DO NOT NEED IT! You shouldn't hide behind it. Your face without it will not frighten others away. Make-up should be used to enhance your natural beauty because you ENJOY it. Generations ago, it was frowned upon to go out and about without "putting your face on". Now, it it completely acceptable, and nothing should stop you. Bare your face for the world to see. I love that multiple t.v. personalities have recently done an entire broadcast without make-up and celebrities posting make-up free photos in social media. It shows that they are just like everyone else under all of that make-up.
There are men that also have body image issues. The look portrayed towards men is hairless chest, tall and muscular with a chiseled jaw line. The Abercrombie and Fitch model, or men's cologne ad in a magazine. These images are edited and unrealistic just like the female models images are. The only difference is they are often not an unhealthy weight compared to female models.
Guys can feel the same way as girls/women, it's just talked about in a different tone. There are anorexic and bulimic males out there. There are also guys at the gym that are trying so hard to look like that male model or some star athlete that they harm their body by taking supplements and drink these wacky concoctions to get "bigger" or "bulk up". They are so desperate to achieve this, they don't consider the health consequences from these unnatural substances. I recall watching a true life or something along those lines on MTV once where a guy wanted bigger calves, and had implants put into the back of his lower legs.
For women and men:
Beyond weight, there is all of our features that make us each look like our own individual self. Features that we have because of our genes and what our parents and grandparents look like. The size of our nose, thick or thin lips, large or small forehead, widows peak, attached or detached earlobes, round butt or flat butt, thick arms or thin arms, etc. All of these things are what make each and everyone of us our unique self. Most of it, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change it (well, surgery of course, but that's what we are trying to eliminate here).
Another group of people that should stand up and be proud of what their bodies look like are mothers. No matter who you are, if you have been blessed with a pregnancy, your body is forever changed. It is changed whether you have carried to term or delivered prematurely, vaginal or cesarean, breastfed or formula fed. No matter the circumstances, your body is beautiful now in a different way. Whether your body looks pretty much the same as it did before, or completely shifted around and baring obvious remnants of pregnancy and motherhood, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! I know each and everyone of you would go through it again for those precious babies and you wouldn't trade them for your previous body. Your body is beautiful, and an everlasting reminder that you brought a beautiful life into the world, and you should embrace it. Stretch marks, pudge, extra weight, scars and all.
As mothers we also need to watch what we say about our bodies in front of our children. When they observe you complaining about things you don't like about yourself, they are listening. They will someday likely have the same flaws, because they are part of you. They shouldn't be preconditioned to dislike themselves because of something that is part of their family design.
My own story:
I feel that thin or skinny people like me are always treated like we are just perfect and don't have body issues. Some may even say that I have no business writing all of this when I am as thin as I am. Honestly, you have to have thick skin as a skinny gal because anyone heavier than you feels entitled, without hesitation, to say anything they feel about your weight because, well, they just do. The famous line I hear repeatedly is, "there are so many people that hate people like you". I know it's a figure of speech, but seriously, do I deserve to hear that. Does anyone, not matter their weight deserve to have snarky comments made towards them.
I love the way this person said it, "Skinny is this thing you’re supposed to strive for, and then complain about once you achieve it. The skinny girls think they aren’t real women if they don’t have sexy curves, while the bigger girls feel like they have to hide their fat and cellulite. If you’re skinny, you’re not allowed to complain about your body; any complaint is met with a “Shut up, you’re so skinny!” as if your weight invalidates your ability to be self-conscious."
Just the other day in the grocery store, a woman in a mad dash observed me wearing Gavin in a baby carrier and pushing Landen and Nolan in the "car" grocery cart (which I also like to refer to as the grocery store semi) and as she zipped by me, she barked in a snarky tone, "Well that's why you are so skinny!". Again, was I deserving of this comment. Her tone was completely uncalled for. All I wanted to do was buy groceries, and it's chaos if I don't contain these beasts in some way. Sheesh!
I would say, that since my mid twenties, I am finally in love with the skin I am in. Becoming a mother has changed my perspective on a lot of things, and I am confident that it has changed how I feel about myself, how I want my children to see how I feel about myself, and how I want my children to view themselves and others.
I am happy to put myself out there and tell you all that makes me, me and things that even I, the skinny one, have disliked about myself. I am 5'7, weigh 125. I didn't get to that weight because I work out, it just happened. I would prefer to weigh 10 lbs more, but I have always had a superb metabolism and I am currently still nursing my 17 month old. I eat like a horse and gain nothing. I don't say that to make heavy people irritated, it's me expressing my personal challenge with trying to gain weight. I have long piano fingers, but don't play the piano. I have a c-section scar from my oldest little man. I have a widows peak and attached ear lobes. Two things that no one should ever be made fun of because it's just part of your genetic makeup. I have a large forehead, or so I am told. I wear size 10 or 11 shoes. As a teenager, that was one of my most hated features of myself. Shoes just aren't cute anymore at that size. I actually cried in a shoe store once when size 11 wasn't going to fit me and the sales person had to go back and see if they had a 12. I was mortified and left the mall crying. My second toe is long and crooked. My boobs are so saggy and just blah after three pregnancies and nursing all three of them, but I don't care, it's Victoria's Secret's problem and they have a multitude of solutions. I have such a flat butt that I struggle to keep my underwear and pants up, even with a belt. It's annoying, but I deal with it. I have dark circles under my eyes mostly due to lack of sleep (a mom issue) and I have always been slightly anemic. I have blotchy skin from pregnancy masking and sun damage. A day doesn't go by that I don't have at least a small hormonal breakout and I am an Esthetician. I have premature spider veins behind my knees, much like my grandmothers. I also have a handful of granny grey hairs on my head! I am not even 30 yet, and I have crows feet, though, I feel that if you don't have crows feet, you must lead an unhappy life. As an Esthetician, when people would come in complaining about them, my response would be that they must smile a lot, and it's a sign of a happy person! At some time or other, I hated all of these things about myself. Now, I am OK with every single one of my flaws and imperfections. They are what make me, me!
Please. Everyone. Love the skin you are in. Observe your good qualities, and accept the flaws. Forget diets and just eat healthy. Work out not to lose weight or bulk up, but to be physically fit. If you can't do it for yourself, do it for our children. They learn by example, not by what they are told.