Friday, April 25, 2014

Skinny Girls Have Insecurities Too

I've noticed a disturbing trend lately and I'm sure I'm not the only one. In response to a culture that glorifies unnatural thinness in women there has been an angry backlash across social media and the internet. I've read women using phrases like:

"Real women have curves"

"Who even thinks being a twig like skeleton is pretty?"

"I have baby bearing hips and I'm proud of it."

"No one actually looks like that. It's disgusting."

"Eating disorders aren't attractive."

Is it? Why can't we all be beautiful regardless of our size and shape? Yes, maybe many of those women models are struggling with eating disorders and unnatural photo shop techniques. But is lambasting them in the public square as fake, disgusting, unnatural, twigs, skeletal, unable to bear children, really going to change anything? No, all this talk does is make everyone feel more insecure.

Putting someone down will never make you feel better about yourself. It never will. So please stop.

And in our haste to champion "real women with curves" we shuffle girls who are skinny and insecure about their own bodies to the side. We reassure and brush them off with the dismissive label: "but look how skinny you are, at least you're thin, you could be a model." As a girl who's always been naturally thin I would like to say: thin girls are often just as insecure in their own skin as anyone else. For most of my teenage years I lamented and agonized over not having curves. And now that pregnancy and breastfeeding have given me those envied curves I secretly worry about not staying skinny. Because for a long time I thought skinniness was my only claim to beauty - it was usually the thing people complimented. And that's not fair.

So, aside from how we insult others to make ourselves feel better, we also need to be aware of what and how we're "complimenting." Two of the best compliments I ever received are these:

1. A woman I didn't know in church came up to me and very sincerely told me I was absolutely beautiful. She didn't say why exactly, but she described how I had a dignified, regal air and she just thought my facial features were beautiful. Other than my parents, no one had ever complimented me that way. Not ever. No one had ever just looked me in the eye and said you're beautiful because you're you.

2. My then boyfriend and now husband telling me he loved my beautiful eyes and that he couldn't resist me anything when I look at him. When he said this it further confirmed that he was the one. I was always looking for a guy that would sincerely compliment my eyes, because it meant he was studying and looking at them instead of just my body.

When we compliment or focus on surface features like skinniness or curves we miss the vast person hiding underneath, often secretly insecure and desperate for love and acceptance, whether they be a size 2 or size 16. Beauty is not a contest and the world's definition is constantly in flux. We are more than our bodies. And everyone needs to know that, even skinny girls.

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