Recently I’ve been very aware of people’s reactions to someone expressing anything negative about themselves and I am honestly not terribly happy about it.
I’m mainly talking about appearance here. The focus on bodies and beauty is insane. We are all aware that the standards being set are unachievable and beauty is a massive factor in the current social structure. If you are pretty, you are successful. If you are skinny, you are successful. However, it’s not just pretty and skinny, it has to be in the right way, so even if you fall under the “correct” categories, chances are slim to none that you are actually what society would deem beautiful.
I have a few good friends I can talk to about how I feel about my appearance. These are the people I know wont be condescending or shame me, because that is the reaction most of the time, when you tell someone how you really feel about the way you look.
I think I look really weird from the waist down. My butt has a strange shape, I have the “saddle-bags” thighs, and because of surgery my knees look nothing alike. If I say this in public, I can predict responses, none of them useful in any way.
‘No, you are beautiful.’ – Your perception of your body is wrong.
‘Stop saying that, you’re being silly.’ – Your perception of your body is wrong and you are stupid.
‘But that’s so pretty!’ – Your perception on how the world views your body is wrong.
Sweet Mother Mary, kill me now. If I express something about my body that I’m uncomfortable with, and get shut down like that, chances are I’ll never say it out loud again. I’ll walk around with it inside my head, because if I say it or talk about it, I will be called silly and stupid.
Or the worst of them.
Holy fucking hell, that pisses me off so much! And we all think it! ‘They are just fishing for compliments’, so fucking what if they are? People might really need them. We want to be beautiful, we want to be comfortable in our own skin, we want to be accepted and desired by others, and getting compliments helps us get there. We are also completely invalidating any kind of self-perception they have, we are making them bad, selfish people, we are turning them into something very negative, and why? Because they think they look weird? Because they want to be complimented and feel better about them selves?
What the fuck is that. Could we not shame people for being ashamed or uncomfortable with their bodies?
You know what we can do instead? Listen. Listen and acknowledge. Instead of shutting people down, ask them how come they feel like this. Ask them if it’s something they want to talk about. Ask them if there is anything you can do to make them feel better. If you can relate, tell them that. Not in a “I live with this too, get over yourself”-way, but just let them know that you sometimes feel like shit about your body too, that’s all you have to say. If you can’t relate, don’t pretend so.
You’ll never be comfortable in your own skin if you don’t talk about. We have to be able to talk about it. Quit it, with the shaming.