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Body Image Mirror Selfs
27th, January
“You’re Too Skinny!” The Other Side of the Body Image Struggle

Body Image Apple Core MIrror

Living in Los Angeles has been an interesting experience. Stationary traffic and smog aside, it’s hard not to miss the heavy focus the LA culture has on health: protein shakes, gluten-free menus, sushi, yoga, juice cleanses, etc. It’s a city with “body image” as its core, and it’s one that can be quite overwhelming for newcomers.

Coming from Florida, you’d think I’d already have a grasp of societal pressures on body image; after all, Miami is all about the bikini body. Yet it wasn’t until I moved to the west coast that I really started to see how much looking your best was important… at least by LA standards, and how living here has affected me: I glance at storefront windows, looking past the merchandise to stare at my own reflection; I question everything I eat, even when it’s seemingly healthy; and I’m constantly wondering how others perceive me (my conclusion is usually negative).

Despite all this, I comfort myself in knowing that although I may be highly critical of myself, if I work hard I can be as happy as those women who are thin, healthy, beautiful, and thus comfortable with themselves. Right?

Right…?

I know quite a few gorgeous women, stunning really, who are extremely uncomfortable in their skin—and it frustrates me. How can someone look so good and still somehow be sad with their own reflection? How are there fit women out there who criticize themselves more than I do?! It’s possible, it’s happening, and it’s truly depressing.

There’s someone I’ll refer to as “Angie,” who’s tall and thin with curves in the right places, giving her a beautiful and unique frame. To say she has the body of a model is extremely accurate, because she is one. I envied her; she could wear a simple t-shirt and look amazing while I’m standing next to her looking frumpy and dull. And yet despite having a profession where she’s idolized for her looks, and reminded of how captivating she is every day, she still sees flaws. Flaws that are not actually there, but nevertheless traits she feels she needs to fix to be desirable.

Then we have “Danielle,” who despite having one of the smallest figures I’ve ever seen, still thinks she’s fat. In fact, she’s lost more weight since I last saw her. Yet with every compliment she receives, she negates it with a, “Oh no, I’m just sucking it in.” Although that’s humanly impossible, she tells herself this so she doesn’t accept her lovely body for how it is.

Finally, there’s my friend “Aisha” who is not only tiny, she’s extremely fashionable and always so well put together. Often I find myself dressing up a bit for our outings just to try to match up. Although she’s a gorgeous person, she too hates the way she looks. She doesn’t like being petite. One day she confessed she was trying to gain weight, just to stop her friends from commenting on her size, “I’m tired of my friends always pointing out how skinny I am. How it looks like I don’t eat, when I eat a lot. How everyone’s concerned with my looks.”

This threw for a loop. I can verify she does eat a lot, while still retaining her figure thanks to metabolism/genes/something I don’t have. But the key here is that she IS healthy; she’s not starving herself. But thanks to criticisms and even compliments about her size, she’s become extremely self-conscious about her own weight. She has a frame most women in Los Angeles would die for, but something she would do anything to change.

… I’m just stunned. It’s heartbreaking to see women I find stunning not comfortable with themselves either. That there’s another side to the body image struggle I rarely take into account. Those of us who feel we need to lose weight to achieve that model look aren’t the only ones in pain; the models themselves are struggling to find a happy balance with themselves.

I think it’s important to remember that we’re all under the same image pressures, and that it isn’t good for us. It’s time we feel comfortable for our own sake—health should be our goal, not what dress size we are. We have to stop caring what we think society perceives us to look like, and love how we are. Easier said than done, and it’s simpler to write the words than embody the message, but I’m so tired of it all. And I’m tired of being tired.

January 28th, 2014 at 00:29 by Albert

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People want acceptance and fear rejection. Humans are social creatures who need to be accepted by the group even if that acceptance isn’t real.

Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown Tokyo episode pointed out the strange cultural act of paying for non-sexual companionship by the Japanese. No sex is involved and both parties understand that their connection is based only on money. In essence, this relationship is illusory, like shadow puppets on a cave wall, but the paying participant is perfectly fine with this charade. The fear alone of rejection is enough for one person to pay and pretend that their being accepted so it makes sense that others would prune and preen their appearances just to fit a mold. So long as that mold is accepted, even if that mold isn’t realistic, it’s a road to social success.

It may sound like a fashion cliche, but if you want to be uncompromisingly happy, be fearless.

June 27th, 2014 at 04:04 by CW

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Thank you so much for this post! I have what they call the Ruler Shape. No curves. Spent time modeling in LA and my self image issues became so detrimental it was affecting my mental health and I started to become depressed because no one else had my body shape and I was so often teased (still to this day) about being too skinny or “shaped like a boy.” Still am struggling w self hatred and trying to learn to love me for me. Not for others opinion of me.

June 27th, 2014 at 19:06 by Esmeralda Portillo

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I’m so happy my post was able to help in some way :) I’m sorry you’ve gone through so much to now dislike the way you look, but we do have to strive to love ourselves first. Be confident even when there are mean people out there saying negative things. I know it sounds silly to say just thinking about yourself in a positive way helps, but it does, at least for me.

Recently I did an on-camera interview and several people in the comments were very critical of my looks. In the past it would hurt me immensely since those type of comments aren’t said about my friends who have also done on-camera work, but then I realized… WHO CARES. I know I’m good looking, and what some anonymous person says on the internet can’t affect me. I hope you’re able to tell yourself that too.