Could we do better?


A woman's weight has long been an issue of public debate. I stepped on the scale the other day, which is something I rarely do as I don't even own a scale, and was horrified to discover I am the heaviest I've ever been, except for that time I was growing another human being inside my body. In fact, I am now only ten pounds less than I was on the day my daughter was born, nearly 13 years ago. And that, somehow, makes me feel like less of a woman because I failed to return to the unhealthy look I rocked before I was pregnant. I am raising a strong and independent daughter, yet in the same breath that I tell her there is much beauty in strength I self-deprecate over a little bit of stomach fat I have accumulated over the years. Could we do better?

Over the past several days I feel like I have been repeatedly let down by society. My brain has been begging me to write something, to take a stand against the tragic ways in which women are treated, by others and by each other, and though I've been trying to stifle it, my thoughts are in no mood to be silenced. 

When thinking about what I want to write, my first instinct was to apologize if this comes across as feminist. Then I reminded myself that is partly to blame for what's happening in our world. Am I sorry I'm taking a stand against the way women are wrongfully treated? No. I most certainly am not. Please, feel free to call me a feminist and I will wear the label proudly. It'd be kind of cool if I were wearing a t-shirt that says FEMINIST across the chest right now, but I digress.

Cool t-shirt aside, feminism isn't the point. Or is it? How society is treating women, especially in the public, is what's upsetting. And I'm tired of fighting when it seems to go nowhere.

I’m tired of the men who make women feel threatened. I’m tired of the people who feel they have a right to make public negative comments about someone. I’m tired of the women who tear each other down, breaking each other apart piece by piece, until...what?

For more than three decades I have lived in a society that tells me thin is the best option. That's the mold you have to fit into if you want to be pretty. And young. Don't forget young. Women must always look young or they are called old hags. Or people say, "She hasn't aged well," like she's a bad batch of wine that no one wants to drink. Should we accept this? 

I am guilty of falling into the beauty trap. I talk with my girlfriends for hours about diets and workouts and wanting to get into shape for bikini season (because we must prove we still have a right to wear a bikini, even though our bodies no longer look like they did at 16). We discuss the possibility of Botox and boob jobs and anything else that will rid our looks of the things we don't think are desirable. I don't see my sister often but when I do I stress over what to wear that won't make me look like a giant beside her rail-like figure. I try on three different outfits before going out with friends to make sure no one thinks my ass has gotten huge. Otherwise I have to work into conversation how I've been doing squats and lunges to prove it's just the jeans that make my ass look like that. Come on. These people are my friends and I'm worried they are judging me by the size of my ass? 

Could we do better?

Some of you may have heard about or read the powerful words Pink tweeted regarding the many critical comments she received for looking fat in a dress she wore to a benefit the other night. Pink has been an icon for many years and I have always admired her amazing strength and admittedly watched many of her videos in awe of her body. Somehow, because she is a public figure, she is subjected to outrageously rude and public comments over her looks. Being famous doesn't mean a person deserves to have his or her weight analyzed by strangers. Pink also stated that her daughter asked her why she was so squishy and her response was because she's happy. Can we all get a dose of Pink wisdom, please?

This past weekend a friend of mine was sent a photo of herself with ejaculation fluid covering her face. This was not the first time she'd received this photo, but this time it was posted to her Facebook page for any of the thousands of people who follow her to see. Fortunately, she noticed it and immediately took down the picture, but when we both reported it to Facebook we were told they investigated the situation and decided this act wasn't a threat. I'm guessing whoever did the investigating has never had a photo of his or her face violated in any kind of unwelcome sexual manner and put in a public forum for all to view.

I think it's easy to look at these actions as harmless. To say Pink should suck it up because she's famous and should expect to deal with harsh criticisms by the public. It's easy to chalk up the photo of my friend to a teenager having a little fun in his bedroom.  But it's none of those things. It's harassment. And, in the case of the photo, it's sexual in nature. It's scary for a woman to receive this type of unwanted attention, especially when we have no idea what we're dealing with on the other end. We don't know if he's harmless and meant it as a joke, all we know is that we aren't laughing and now we have to be extra cautious about who can 'like' a public page on Facebook. Why is that the solution?  Why is being a public figure an invitation to receive negative comments or be harassed?

I want my daughter to grow up in a world where she is healthy, strong, confident, and happy. I want for no one to ever steal her thunder or make her feel uncomfortable with negative or suggestive comments about her looks. I want to live in a world where women compliment each other more than they speak negatively about each other. I want us to do better than we've been doing.

I may be the heaviest I've ever been in my life, but I am also the strongest. I have gained muscle in places I didn't know I could gain muscle, and even though I am also softer in areas I wasn't soft before, it doesn't make me less of a woman. I want the world to understand we are all individuals wrapped in different packages. Wonderfully beautiful, whacky, funny, and full of sass. 

But until we as women demand to not be threatened or harassed or spoken about negatively, nothing can change. We can do better.

Can't we?