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All the World Around
I know it's very "teenage girl" to write about body issues. That last sentence alone is grounds for you to roll your eyes and put this back, but I'm being serious here. Body issues were a huge problem for me in middle school. I know, right? Middle school. But, there you go. I have one exceptionally vivid memory of feeling terrible at play practice because I hadn't eaten anything for lunch that day, so I had to sit and try not to throw up while watching my understudy play my part. That definitely made me sour, so I decided to cut the crap.
After that, I made a conscious effort not to voice my opinions on myself, and I was doing fairly well. I did become more observant, and I realized something; People, especially girls, like to bond over what they think is wrong about themselves. Let's be honest; how many times have you been in a restroom, locker room, dressing room, etc. when someone said those fateful words, "I'm fat."? Suddenly, there's a huge crowd around the mirror.
"Oh my God, no you're not, I am!"
"Look at my love handles!"
"I look like I have a beer gut."
"My chest is totally flat."
"My nose is crooked."
"I can't believe how much weight I've gained!"
And it's not always body issues, either.
"My singing voice is horrible," (guilty).
"I'm so stupid," (guilty).
"I'm not good at anything," (guilty, guilty, guilty).
I quickly realized that no one really cared what the other person was saying.
I've been good about keeping my self conscious attitude to myself, for the most part. I do remember one incident several months ago. I was at Sean's house. Harrison and I were sitting on the couch watching Megan obliterate prostitutes with a hot rod in Grand Theft Auto. Out of nowhere, I pitifully looked down at my stomach and said "I'm fat." Immediately, my head snapped up and my eyes grew wide. "Crap! Oh my God! I can't believe I just said that!" Harrison turned to me, looking surprised. "Oh my God! I hate it when people do that! Ugh! I'm so sorry!" I looked back at him and Megan, genuinely apologizing.
"Well, you should be!" He said.
"I really am! I don't even think that! I'm hot! I am! I'm hot!"
Harrison looked like he was going to burst into laughter any second.
Needless to say, it was a little uncomfortable. But I realize now that the more I abstained from discussing the topic, the more incredibly annoying it became when other people did.
Everyone knows what will happen when they say those words. Other people will empathize and point out their own flaws. Subconsciously, we associate deprecating ourselves with receiving confirmation. A light goes on in our heads, one that makes us think "Maybe I'm not so alone."
It's all wrong. This may be harsh, but let's be honest--no one is interested in your self pity. When someone talks about his or her insecurities, it only makes others think about their own, perpetuating a cycle that should have never been started.
Everyone wants to lose weight. Everyone wants to be perfect. We all want to fix what we think is wrong with us. All the world around. But I wasn't raised on a Calvin Klein photo shoot, and I don't intend to act like it. I don't look like I materialized out of the glossy pages of a magazine. I look like I've been wandering around suburbia my whole life, exactly like I have been. And I like the way I am.
Essentially, for me it doesn't matter what size I wear. What matters is the fact that I physically can do everything I want to: march a parade without passing out, run down the hallway to give my friend a hug without gasping for breath at the end, have the mental capacity to complete my homework without damning myself for my humanity every time my stomach growls. And I can do all that.
So I'm a happy girl.
Cedar Springs, MI