How many times a day do you walk around campus and think to yourself, “I wish I looked like that girl,” or “why don’t my legs look like that?” I’m willing to bet that you do it at least once a day. I know that I’m guilty of it.
The pressure of today’s body standards can be crushing. Young girls and women are bombarded by the standard of being just the right amount of skinny. If you’re too skinny, you’re immediately assigned as the girl with an eating disorder. If you’re not skinny enough, you’re fat and in need of a treadmill, ASAP.
Succumbing to body standards can cause many unhealthy habits, one of them being an obsession with calorie counting. Your daily calorie limit becomes a number that you live by. You start avoiding certain foods that you love like pizza, ice cream, and cookies, because going over that number feels so shameful. You might even skip dinner if you’ve met your calorie goal for the day, or you’ll wait to eat all day if you know you’re going out to eat for dinner.
The calorie counting obsession leads to splurge guilt. If you do decide to eat those two delicious pieces of pizza, or those three amazing cookies, you feel so incredibly ashamed of giving in. It’s like you’ve lost some kind of competition, and you immediately think that the perfectly skinny girl wouldn’t have let the cookies get the best of her. You begin going to the gym to compensate for “overeating,” thinking that you’re being healthy while you’re actually just feeding another obsession. If you skip a day, you feel that same shame and guilt caused by indulging.
Soon enough, you’re constantly comparing yourself to every single girl you see. You’re plagued with the “why doesn’t my ___ look like her ___” thoughts, along with the hopelessness of ever looking good enough. Along with ruthlessly comparing yourself to other girls, you’re constantly wondering if you look attractive enough to others, or if your clothes make you look fat, or if you should have skipped the Starbucks drink –even though you ordered it skinny.
Comparing yourself to other girls can make you so, so bitter. So bitter, in fact, that you begin to judge those “perfect” girls – you begin to “skinny shame.” You think to yourself that she must look like that because she doesn’t eat, or because she spends way too much time at the gym. You totally discount the fact that she might naturally look that way because that just doesn’t seem fair.
This is the effect that body standards have on girls every single day. You’re probably exhausted just from reading about it; think about actually living it. I can personally say that it is incredibly tiring. Like so many girls, I’ve struggled with looking “perfect” for years. I’m tired of that, though. There needs to be a change.
We need to realize that health and happiness are what matter, not conforming to a social norm just because you’re told you should. If you want to lose weight, do it for you and no one else. Do it the healthy way; do it because it makes you happy. If you love how you look and it’s different than a body standard, then throw up your middle fingers at society and keep living your life, girl.
Love yourself, but also support your fellow ladies. A simple compliment can go such a long way, even if its just, “those jeans look super cute on you!” Don’t ever feel alone under the weight of body standards; we’re all holding it up together.