No matter what our differences are as people, insecurities are what seem to tie us all together. The issues we face differ from person to person, but each one of them causes the same negative end-product. Although everyone is entitled to their struggles, and should never be shunned or made to feel guilty for having them, we also all have a responsibility to make sure our own problems aren’t inflicting more pain and suffering on other people.
There have been three times recently when I’ve been made to feel worse about my self-image because of other women.
The first was in a changing room at a high-street clothing store when I overheard a conversation between two women in the next booth. “It won’t zip up,” the shopper cried out as her friend furiously tried to squeeze her in – we all know that struggle! But it’s what came next that sent a shiver down my spine: “I’m not getting a bigger size. It’s bad enough that I had to try a 10.”
A ten. A ten. I pondered at my own size 10 frame in the mirror. Was it really such a crime to be this size? I’d certainly never thought so.
The second time was when I was scrolling down my Instagram feed and saw a photograph of a stunning, slender woman posing in a bikini on holiday. The caption? “Sun’s out, chubby thighs out.” I had to fight to get my breath back. Did this girl actually, in any way, think that she was “chubby”? And, if so, what did this mean for her hundreds of followers who were bigger than her, including myself?
The final knock for me involved the dreaded ‘D’ word – diet. As I was tucking into a hearty, home-cooked meal, photographs on social media seemed to be multiplying faster than I could chew. They showed measly pickings that women were falsely labeling as ‘dinner’ in a bid for their ‘diet’ to work. Women who, from their pictures, looked truly perfect and had no reason to think they needed to diet. Eat healthily, perhaps. But lose weight? Never.
All three of these occasions got me thinking; were any of these women aware of the impact their seemingly harmless words could have on those around them? I, personally, am completely confident in my own skin after leaving my body-consciousness behind with my teenage years, but if I’d have experienced this exact same situation two years ago, I know full well I’d have felt awful. My experience also tells me that these women can’t be doing their own confidence any favours by imposing such harsh labels on themselves.
In an ideal world, every man and woman would be free of self-doubt and able to look into a mirror and appreciate, love and be proud of what they see. Whether that’s excess weight from giving birth to a child, scars from an injury, muscles from hard work and persistence, or simply the natural shape that they were blessed with. A world like this may seem so far out of reach and completely idealistic but, until we reach a stage anywhere close to that, it’s our job to (wo)man up and think about our actions and our words.
We need to quit fueling each other’s insecurities, even if unconsciously, and instead work towards contributing to the complete and utter confidence that we all deserve.
Featured image: Benjamin Watson/ Flickr.