I was reminded of this post today and it seemed like a good time to repost. I think that one of the most damaging, despicable and erroneous messages that the diet industry uses to sell us their products (that don’t work even based on their own research), is that unless we’re thin, we will never be enough. Our lives will never be enough, our accomplishments will never be enough.
Sure you won a Grammy for your first CD and an Oscar for your first film, but are you thin? You’re the governor of a state and people want you to run for President, but are you thin? You’re thin now so we expect you to maintain that obsessively so that you are never not thin. You’re a great mother but are you thin? You’re a successful business person but are you thin? You’re 4 years old but are you thin? You’re 94 years old but are you thin? You cured cancer but are you thin?
Let’s take a moment to consider that this is an artificial construct. That being thin is only more valuable because of what our culture values at this time. The body size that is culturally valuable has been different at different times, and currently varies tremendously in different cultures and under different circumstances.
Let’s also be honest that if our body doesn’t match the ideal body for the culture and time in which we live, that can well and truly suck. We have some options: we can try to change our bodies, we can try to change the culture, or we can live outside it (somewhere on the spectrum from deliriously happy to miserable). But I’d like us to consider something. Consider that doing any of those things doesn’t change one simple thing: We are, each of us, already enough. Our intrinsic value is already beyond measure and, though we can forget that or try to profess it away, our inherent amazingness cannot be diminished by an arbitrary cultural stereotype of beauty, or an industry that seeks to make us hate ourselves so that we buy their useless products, or people who try to make us hate ourselves so that they can feel better about themselves.
Consider that we are not more valuable if there is less of us, or less valuable if there is more of us.
Imagine what our society would be like if we realized the value of all bodies. If we expanded the concept of beautiful people to include everyone, thus rendering it completely powerless. Imagine how different our lives would be if we understood that comparing our body to anyone else’s is complete folly- as ridiculous as looking at two snowflakes and suggesting that one is more beautiful.
How would our lives be different – how would we use our time, energy, and money – if we decided that we are enough already.
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13 thoughts on “Enough, Seriously”
Imagine what the world would be like if beauty wasn’t emphasized, and people were valued, even if the weren’t “beautiful” (no matter what size). Beauty really only defines what’s visually appealing, and the most appealing things about the vast majority of people are invisible.
That’s also a totally cool way to deal with beauty! I don’t choose it because I like the idea of beauty – whether it’s a person or a piece of art or in nature – and so rather than trying to devalue the entire concept, I’d rather look at the ability to perceive beauty as a skillset that can be expanded (so that if I can’t see the beauty in someone it’s my skillset that’s lacking, not the person I’m looking at.) By treating it like that and realizing that literally everyone is beautiful I think we keep all the good things about beauty, but render it powerless as a tool to make some people feel “less than” or to compel us to buy things to feel more “beautiful.” But that’s just me and, of course, there are lots of other ways to go about this.
Thank you! I ‘m a painter/artist at heart myself, so I completely understand loving the idea of beauty. I see it as beauty is one of those concepts that if everything is beautiful, then nothing is beautiful, as that nulls the concept.
But I think it’s approaching the same idea from different directions– I look for the appealing things about everyone, regardless of if it’s something you can see or something you can’t. Which I guess you could say is also learning to find beauty in everyone, I just never thought of it like that!
Yes, yes and yes.
I tend to live in the head space of being “too much and not enough” simultaneously and it’s exhausting and takes quite a toll on my self-esteem. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that my being “too sensitive” or “too emotional” is scary for some people and yet it makes me really good at what I do. Thank you for reminding me that there is inherent amazingness in all of us, just for BEING. xox
If it weren’t for sites like this, it never would have occurred to me that Thin Or Else is arbitrary and, in fact, optional, and that I’m just the way I’m supposed to be, right now. Meanwhile, I’m wondering why physical variety is so threatening to some people. Hm.
Great words. Great perspective. I love this post.
My gosh! You totally, eloquently, nailed it! LOVE this post today! Thank you, again, for putting out the words we all need to have said! You rock! 🙂 xo
Two weeks ago tomorrow I had shoulder surgery to repair a 95% torn rotator cuff. They told me I would be in a sling for 6 weeks minimum, probably 2 months. Heavy PT, difficult life, pain killers, the works.
When I got out of OR, they ecstatically told me it wasn’t the RC but a giant bone spur which turned a 2 hour surgery into a 40 minute surgery, turned months in a sling to two weeks, turned weeks of Percocet for pain relief into 5 or 6 days.
I am making an amazing recovery, and my body is so, so happy to be getting past 4 years of pain (that’s how long this has been bothering me). My body was telling me it was hurt, I listened, and now it’s getting healed. My body is stunning me with its ability to heal.
Who the F*CK cares if I’m thin?
If I may ask, did they determine what the surgery would be before it started, or was it a preconceived notion? Or is there is an outside difference between the 2 conditions? I don’t know what a bone spur is.
It’s great you’re on the road to recovery so fast though. I fell down a staircase 4 yrs ago while I was moving out of rez, and both legs were almost black for several weeks, but it took 3 months for the swelling and itching to go down on one leg. The only thing that worked was an analgesic gel (“Ice Cold Gel”).
They did an MRI and though it was the rotator cuff. It turned out that the inflammation was so bad they couldn’t really see what the problem was till they went in.
A bone spur, as I understand it, is an outgrowth of bone that usually occurs on a bone’s edge, usually where two bones come together, as the shoulder joint does. I have a before and after image the little arthroscopic camera took during surgery. My shoulder bone looks like it’s been gnawed at by little tiny beavers now!
I read your posts every chance I get as I struggle being ‘plus sized’ or simply FAT with terrible self esteem, and it seems that as I start to get better self esteem someone or thing comes along and smashes what I’ve gained. Your blog, words of encouragement and wisdom are helping me slowly get myself to a mentally good stage.
I really liked the snowflakes – and that you cannot compare two of them for their beauty. Absolutely! You are a genius!
This makes me think about worthiness and confidence and how we often think that being “worthy” (read standard beauty) is the same as being worthy on the inside. Again, who is to dictate what is good and beautiful and etc. in the first place? This stereotype also works against people considered beautiful by the mainstream culture saying that they’re shallow and unintellingent (erm…wrong!). I guess it is just human logic at fault again (it is our brain’s fault that we form stereotypes and so it is very hard to break those patterns). Anyway, what is astounding to me is that we take ourselves as a whole and thus are not satisfied until we perceive that everything about us is OK (body,personality, soul and whatnot). As a person who lives with obsessions and mental illness(es) it is very hard because I used to hate my appearance and thus also my inner self was not doing well. Now that I am OK with being fat, (most days) I am anxious about my intelligence and life choices etc. It pains me to see that people think they are never ever enough and have this crazy delusion that weight loss will finally be the holy grail of “enoughness”. That is the thing with modifying our appearance to fit a certain ideal-at some point people will discover they are not happier because of it (the meaninglessness of it all). However, if you work at convincing yourself that you are OK and enough on the inside, well, I think you can accept that you cannot live a life dictated by magazines, diets, weight loss pills and people who make a profit/put you down for something you should not apologize for and it’s nobody’s business (including being fat, having acne and genetics).
Finally, it would be amazing if everybody would just collectively wake up and give the middle finger to all the socially constructed crap there is (that’s a bit Catch-22 I’m afraid).