As many of you probably know, today is NOW’s fourteenth annual Love Your Body Day. I think it’s great that NOW has been raising awareness of body image issues for so long, and I hope that this campaign touches girls and boys all over the world.
I think everyone can attest to the fact that it’s a lot easier to say “love your body” than to actually love your own body. We all have our insecurities, and it’s extremely difficult to just leave them at the door. I can get on a soapbox and say how beauty is just a perception that men have created to oppress women and blah blah blah, but that’s not gonna solve anything or make women feel any better about themselves. Honestly, it irritates me when people say that kinda thing. It’s a fact that we all want to conform to societal standards and not be the weirdo, and part of that is the desire to be pretty. We all want to be accepted. God bless the minority of women who have gotten to the point where they could care less how they look, but most of us haven’t gotten to that level yet.
At the end of the day, I just think that we should all feel comfortable in our bodies, and not judge others for how they look. If Sarah is a size 24 and wants to lose weight, then she has my blessing; if Rebecca is a size 24 who loves how she looks, good for her too. Sarah and Rebecca shouldn’t criticize each other’s choices regarding weight, and it’s nobody else’s business, either.
I have a younger friend whose build will never allow her to look like a runway model, but she’s far from fat. There have been a number of occasions where people have said to her (in my hearing, no less) “Oh, you have such a pretty face,” or even flat-out “You’d be so pretty if you were thin.” I have another younger friend who is also not thin, and she's told me about some of the things that girls and boys have said to her to mock her weight. She tries really hard not to let it bother her, and I think she does succeed. It still really drives me crazy that people feel that they can say whatever they want to impressionable little girls like my two friends, and I really want to give it to them. Like, it’s none of your business what she looks like! Do you want her to feel like garbage because of how she looks? If she’s okay with it, then let her live. If she’s not okay with it, then she’ll diet or exercise on her own - she doesn’t need motivation from you.
I know that these catty people say things like that to my friends to make themselves feel better about their own insecurities. “Well, my [insert body part here] might be horrendous, but at least I’m not fat like her.” Sometimes it’s honestly well-intentioned, albeit completely tactless. It’s these nasty comments are the kinds of things we never forget, that plague us for the rest of our lives. We need to be vigilant against saying mean things about others’ bodies, especially by accident.
My mother has influenced me a lot in this sense. She’s lost more than 100 pounds, and maintained it over a period of several years. Because of her, I know how icky someone can feel because of their body weight. I just wish everyone had that sort of influence in their life.
We’re in the middle of Sukkot now, when Jews leave their homes to live in small huts (sukkahs) to commemorate how the Jews lived when they wandered in the wilderness for forty years. The sukkah is supposed to be fragile to show that it’s not the sukkah protecting us from the elements, it’s God. Similarly, it’s not really our bodies that protect our nishamot (souls); it’s God. Our bodies are just vessels for our nishamot to live in this world, and will be discarded when we die and head to Olam HaBa, the world to come. May we all learn how to come to terms with how our vessels look in this world.