I’ve spent a lot of time blaming society for the way it portrays and objectifies women; the magazines with their unrealistic images; and the culture of weight loss fad diets that seem to run rampant. However, I have recently come to a point at which I have been forced to reconsider my views. The truth is, I am a 31 year old well educated, happily married mother of two, and I know better. I know better than to believe that anyone in real life looks as good as the girl on the cover of that magazine. I know better than to believe that there is a magic cure to make me lose that troublesome 10lbs that doesn’t involve moving more and eating less. I know better than to believe that my worth is based upon how many times I am told that I am beautiful.
The trouble is, knowing better does not change anything. Herein lies my forced view change: yes all of these societal factors contribute to the problem, but it is about time I stand up and take some responsibility. The truth is that I perpetuate the issue. Recently I sat down and wrote out as many of the negative messages I routinely tell myself on a piece of paper that I recall. Messages about how I look, how I am and what I cannot do, and none of which were difficult to think of. The resulting page was filled with things I would never say out loud; things too mean to ever say about another person; things so familiar I barely know where to start to teach myself to un-think them.
But even if tomorrow every glossy magazine stops photoshopping their models, and every fad diet stops promising happiness, perfection and love as a result of a magic cure, I’ll still have a problem. I still won’t think I could ever “get away” with wearing a bikini, or that I am worth any more. And that tragic reality, which I don’t think is unique to me, is entirely my fault. It is my choice to believe these things and it is my choice to daily perpetuate them. It is my choice to base my worth on my interpretation of how I am perceived by others and it is my choice to allow myself to be limited by that. Most dauntingly, it is my choice how I teach my young children what they will believe about themselves.
That’s a lot of power and a lot of responsibility. I would love to see the portrayal and objectification of women come to an end; magazines to stop promoting unrealistic body types and images; and the end to diets that wheel and deal in unhealthy endeavours. But more so I would love to see a revolution of men and women choosing to both love and respect themselves. That’s when the tides will turn, because who is society if its not made up of the people living in it?