The category is...BAWDY. Are you loving who you see in the mirror?
It’s Women’s History Month! For the first time in my life, I’m seeing this month being celebrated by all women, and it’s such an incredible and empowering moment to be a woman. Megan Thee Stallion, Beyoncé, Tiffany Hadish, and even little Blue Ivy snatched all the Grammys. However, in the light of all this feminine representation, the box women are allowed to fit in feels like it’s closing in. The 2000s brought us the SKINNY, but the 2020s are bringing us Big. Body. BENZ. Waists as tiny as they could possibly be with hips and a butt triple the size. I was under the assumption that a lot of these Instagram models just had incredible trainers and chefs, but with Brazilian Butt Lift surgeries starting at $5,000, for some it’s a small investment for a lifetime of opportunities.
Last night, I watched Youtube/Instagram videos of women getting Brazilian Butt Lifts, and honestly prior to yesterday, I had absolutely no idea the process of the procedure. (Trigger warning) Well, for starters, it isn’t just a single procedure, but a very long and bloody few weeks of procedures and draining done with the knowledge that more surgeries and maintenance will need to be performed for years to come. You can't even sit down for 3 weeks, and have to get someone to squeeze out the puss/blood daily to prevent infection while it heals. Though I’ve lived in LA for the past 4 years, I had no idea that “regular” people were putting their bodies through such strenuous procedures to achieve an ideal body by the standards of social media.
I feel that everyone should be able to do what makes them happy and feel beautiful, but watching a lot of these surgeries and seeing...huge needles and rods thread in and out of girls my age for lipo, suction cups placed on butts and hips to make them stick out more, permanent bras to make boobs stand up higher and essentially create a “shelf” for implants to go in... I realized just how unfair I’ve been to myself, and how unrealistic body standards are for women on a larger scale.
This concept isn’t new, but the body dysmorphia that is being created alongside the rise of social media models altering their bodies and normalizing it in the mainstream is detrimental to the health and wellness of both men and women of all ages.
Body dysmorphia is defined as, “a mental health disorder in which you can't stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance — a flaw that appears minor or can't be seen by others. But you may feel so embarrassed, ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations.”
Some signs and symptoms of body dysmorphia can include:
feeling like there is a defect in your appearance which makes you ugly
needing others to always validate your appearance
going to extensive lengths to hide your perceived flaw with styling or makeup
avoiding social situations and frequently checking your appearance and focusing on your perceived flaw
In guys, body dysmorphia is mostly seen as muscle dysmorphia, believing that they are too small or not muscular enough.
Risk factors for body dysmorphia include:
Having a perfectionist personality trait
growing up in a social environment with clearly defined expectations of beauty
childhood trauma and abuse
parental self-loathing and image deprecation
As most Gen Z folks, I read the definition, immediately said “oh sh*t I have it” and took an online questionnaire by the Body Dysmorphia Disorder Foundation. Luckily, I didn’t score in the threshold for having BDD...but I was also 3 points away. It was time for some self reflection.
I have never been kind to my body. The only time I even care about my weight or measurements are when I have a trip or birthday coming up, and I'm trying to pop out for the gram. Yes, I'm a girl wanting to pursue a career in the field of global health and do not take the best care of my own health...moving on. I’m not sure if it was because most of my family is overweight and struggled with their body image that I just accepted being the thick girl. Maybe it had something to do with growing up as one of the few pear-shaped dancers at my studio, or in competitive dance for that matter, constantly looking at myself in the mirror with leotard and tights, believing that because I was a thick girl that dancing could never be more than just a hobby. I used to say that I loved dance, but wouldn’t let my kids dance because I didn’t want them to look at themselves in comparison to everyone else for all of their adolescence. I enjoyed proving people wrong as I hopped en pointe amidst doubts that someone my size could do it. I didn't look like a dancer, and rather than be turned away for not being able to look like everyone else, I just accepted staying in my little bubble.
Let me tell you, I look back at high school pictures in awe because I really believed that I was huge, so I did all that I could to blend in and hide my body, hoping boys wouldn’t make comments about my thighs, my hips, my butt. As a thick girl, you get used to having your body sexualized, to the point where being "thick Courtney" literally became my identifier in high school. I wanted to just be skinny like everyone else for once in my life!
Fast-forward to college, suddenly everybody and they mama's want to be thicc. But, the Instagram baddies still didn’t look like me. How can they be 5’5 and weigh 120 pounds but have hips and butt bigger than mine with no sign of fat in their arms, waists, or faces? Even when my body type became "the trend" within reach... I still wasn’t there. Even with all the mental and spiritual growth, I still wasn't happy with myself, and because it was always about a look and never about my health, diets and fitness routines were always short-lived.
I’ve been judging myself awfully, especially with the added pandemic pounds and loss of most of my physical activity outlets, but I think I have reached a breaking point. No one wants to be around the self-deprecating friend, so I saved all that loathing for those walks past the bathroom mirror. I stopped buying clothes, went out less, I was becoming a shell of myself, and something had to change.
Now, I’m reclaiming my body. I want to look at myself in the mirror and not pull my pants over my obliques to create an illusion of a smaller waistline. I’ve been talking about wanting to live a healthier lifestyle, but all I’ve been trying to do is fit in a mold of what currently is popular, and giving up when I don’t. I cannot elevate my mind and leave my body behind to rot with negative thoughts and temporary diet changes. Outer validation is not guaranteed, and at the end of the day, I need to do what I can to live the healthiest life. What that looks like on the outside just is what it is. I wish I had a perfect solution to say that works every single time for every single person, or an amazing story of me being completely body positive, but I’m on a journey.
So, let's do some unlearning. I took some time to browse other blogs and health journals to find out how to become more body positive. Here are 5 things that I want to incorporate into my life:
Focus on the things I like about myself and gas myself UP without obsessing over that feature and depending on it for validation.
Positive affirmations: I feel power in my words when I look in a mirror and say positive things to myself, appreciating every part of myself.
My recent one has been: “I am exactly where I need to be, and I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to." This is usually followed by me drawing a daily affirmation card from my Tori Kelly deck of daily affirmations. This week, I'm going to try to be more specific, reminding myself that my body is beautiful.
Thinking healthier not skinnier
This is going to be the hardest one for me. I hope to try to eat for fuel rather than the ‘intermittent fast and eat empty calories after’ routine that I have been on. This is mainly because I take care of everything before I take care of myself, so there are days when I only eat once, and it’s a packet of Ramen.
Tracking your food through apps is also a great way to be conscious of what food groups you've eaten that day
Compliment others frequently
Y'all...let’s lift each other. I do not want to compete with anyone but myself and truly live and believe that.
Keep my body active and intentionally try to do something good for my body every day.
I’m not going to lie to myself and say I’m going to work out every day...at least not now because I barely get 3-4 days of the week in to be active. Regardless, on the days when I don’t work out, I want to use those days to stretch, do a skincare routine, or honestly just give myself a good night’s rest.
I don’t like my body all the time, but I really want to fall in love with every single stretch mark, and be happy with how I look regardless of what’s trendy. Isn’t it crazy how hard loving yourself is?? Despite it all, we are in this together, and I hope that we all become our own #bodygoals and live healthier, non image-based lives. Will I ever be able to wear a size 0? Not even possible, but would it even be healthy weight for me? We have to start there. Through commitment to good nutrition and physical activity, I know that I can be stronger, feel energized and happier, and limit health complications that are related to being overweight like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Our bodies are our so powerful, and it's time to protect and heal them whatever it takes. Outside is on the horizon. ;)
Peace and love <3
Some good links: