I am the most beautiful woman in the world.
Since beauty is subjective, believe it or not, the above statement is true. It’s only true according to Ted, but that doesn’t make any it less accurate.
It’s also true that there are many people who find my figure repulsive and would sincerely beg not to have to see me in a swimsuit.
C’est la vie. As one of my favorite drummers once said: “I prefer not to count the people that think that I suck.”
Chances are that you, as a woman, have at some point in your life seen a fellow woman somewhere and quietly, in some part of your psyche, felt that you were either superior or inferior to her. You may have done this because she looked homely to you, or was older or younger than you are, or had a face you thought was pretty, or hair you found beautiful. It is very likely that your brain regurgitated the chemical set to make you feel this because she possessed either more or less body fat than you do.
You didn’t do this because you’re a bad person, you did this because you’ve been conditioned to weigh and measure yourself against the females of your species around you since the day you were born.
I have done this. I’m about a hundred pounds overweight but it’s still easy enough to find a woman who is bigger than me. On the flipside, I’ve also seen women bigger than me and marveled over how beautiful they were, but on occasion I have been guilty of thinking, before I could stop it: “whew… at least I’m not that big.”
Maybe they weren’t carrying it in a way I thought looked good or maybe they didn’t appeal to my particular beauty aesthetic. I can generally find something lovely about most women, but I admit it’s not universal.
I automatically, with no ability to stop it, believe in some part of my subconscious, that anyone thinner than me is also in a certain sense – better. There are multiple reasons for this; the first being that I’ve spent my life besieged by imagery of slender women as the ideal and epitome of beauty. I can’t get through a grocery store checkout without having to stare at ten different magazine covers trying to tell me how I can lose weight, lose weight, lose more weight! More personally, since I’ve been struggling to be thin since I was around fourteen, I see that thin women already have something I’ve been working to obtain for well over half my life. Since they have achieved what I could not, they must be better than I am. I suppose that to my brain it’s like the obvious fact that someone with a Doctorate is more educated than me, they know more. Similarly someone thin has (in my subconscious) done more work and conquered the gluttony that besieges me. They have willpower, they have control, they are strong where I am weak. They are able to not eat.
To be honest with you, right now as I write this I am feeling slight guilt for planning to have the audacity to not think upon myself as inferior to skinnier girls.
Human females have the exact reverse power dynamic to almost every other animal species on the planet – the littlest of us is considered to be the most powerful. I think this is largely due to the fact that we live in a world where we no longer need to defend ourselves physically in order to survive. A beauty aesthetic agreed upon by a collective, rather than actual bodily prowess, determines our pecking order.
The reverse can also be true. There is a counter movement that praises the curvier woman and demeans the slender. Although this tactic is temptingly comforting to us heavy types, it still simply reinforces the exact same belief that we’re superior or inferior to one another based on nothing but the mostly arbitrary fact of how we look.
I don’t think men are the primary source of this problem. We’re all responsible as a society of course, but in my experience it has rarely been men taking the reigns of this hate show. When I have had fat taunts chanted at me in grade school, when I have been ostracized from the rest of my group by clothing stores, when I have read something on the internet or watched a news report that spewed vitriol and ugliness about people like me, it has almost always come from women. I firmly believe that those women are regurgitating this filth (toward the slender and heavy alike) because inside they truly do hate themselves more than anyone else.
That isn’t something to get angry or outraged over, that is something to truly weep for.
As for men, despite my lifetime of being overweight, I have never gone lonely for male attention when I desired it. Men (at least the ones I choose to hang out with) seem to find my particularly lush figure as either erotic, adorable or simply as okay as any other female figure because GIRL = GOOD!
I admit I do hang out with particularly cool guys. The guys who thought otherwise in my presence have usually been kind enough to keep their opinions to themselves.
So why do women do this to each other? Not being a sociologist or a psychologist I can only guess that it’s related to the same animal instinct that causes mountain goats to butt heads and lions to try to eat one other – we have an evolutionary instinct to be on top. Humans though are much more than just our collection of blind instincts, we can fight this.
My challenge to you is this: pay attention to it. When you feel yourself doing it - stop, and gently reinforce the truth. No I am not better, no I am not worse – we are all merely different.
We have to teach ourselves to be so much more than a blind pecking order based on visual imagery. We have to fight every day against our gut instinct to weigh and measure ourselves on a value scale based entirely on a body that is only going to wither and rot.
What about you will remain? In some systems of belief, absolutely nothing - which leaves behind only how you lived and treated yourself and others while you did it. For me, what is inside is eternal, but this body will be so much dust in a mere eye blink of geological time. I have a responsibility to care for it while it lives, but in the end of things it will not matter. Certainly how it looked on a beauty scale decided by one small-minded and selfish culture will blow away like so much chaff. I believe that if you can stop finding yourself superior or inferior then you can also begin to stop hating yourself as well.
I am not better, I am not worse. I am simply here.