Reading this article from the Huff Post, written by Jennifer Aniston (below), really pulled at my heart strings today. I’m two years into my first REAL relationship and we are both surrounded by friends who are already married or having children. There’s nothing worse than people ASSUMING we all want the same thing. We all want a kid asap…we all want a ring asap…Not only does Jennifer Aniston call out the tabloids for body shaming, but she confirms that people can exist without a baby or even a significant other and still be 100% confident. I encourage you to find a way to be happy with you, and just you, and you as is, and confirm that just you is enough, to those who need the reminder.
I’m a fairly confident 29-year-old who has momentary lapses in self-esteem when I’m squeezed into the wrong outfit. 6 out of 7 days of the week, I’m comfortable in my own skin and can leave my home feeling good about my body and what’s covering it for the day. Sometimes though, being a gal can be tough.
When I was fresh out of university, I realized my eating and drinking habits weren’t at their best; something I believe every graduate notices upon graduation! Your schedule can be challenging and convenience and fun become your priorities.
I’ve been a member at a gym now for at least 10 years. I’ve even completed a few fitness and nutrition challenges through work with Medpoint Health here in London and I’m so happy I understand what healthy body image is now. There’s one night that always sticks out in my mind when I think about women, body issues, and self-worth.
I was already working for FM96 and found myself at a show at Museum London on a Friday night have some drinks with co-workers about three years ago. I was half-way through my first Medpoint health challenge at the time. One co-worker brought a friend along. A nice looking guy who I was sure I had met at some point, possibly at a different work event. As my co-worker introduced us (again), he exclaimed,
“You used to be fat, didn’t you?”
I never thought of myself as “fat” so it was quite shocking to hear those words. I remember needing a minute after that handshake. I remember wanting to knee him in the nuts. I remember thinking, “WOW, AS IF SOMEONE ACTUALLY SAID THAT OUT LOUD!”
I will never forget those words as long as I live. That is the ONLY time I have heard those words in my life, thankfully. It blows my mind that it happened in my late-twenties and not when I was a competitive dancer…or during high school when the pressure of being a teenager sinks in.
I grew up in ballet shoes, longing for a jazz solo and eventually earned the privilege to compete in 3-4 numbers a season competitively. There was always a better dancer. There was always someone who looked better in the assigned costume than I did. There was always a bit of pressure there. By high-school, this type of pressure only grew. I was feeling the pressure to find physical activity outside of dance just to feel better about my body. Some of my friends caved in to that pressure, deciding that they could go without meals. I never could take things that far, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t think about. To an extent, I think all women do. I’m thankful that my family and the people I grew up around helped me see past the pressure because not everyone does. As a matter of fact, one of my high-school friends just confessed that she had been struggling with an eating disorder at the end of high school and I had NO IDEA at the time. That makes two of my high school friends…it’s more common than we know and it’s not always obvious.
When it comes to the rumour mill about pregnancy, it happens often in the not-so-celebrity world too. “Someone’s gained weight or not drinking…must be pregnant.” Stop assuming!!! Have a read, she’s the guest columnist for this one at the Huffington Post:
Let me start by saying that addressing gossip is something I have never done. I don’t like to give energy to the business of lies, but I wanted to participate in a larger conversation that has already begun and needs to continue. Since I’m not on social media, I decided to put my thoughts here in writing.
For the record, I am not pregnant. What I am is fed up. I’m fed up with the sport-like scrutiny and body shaming that occurs daily under the guise of “journalism,” the “First Amendment” and “celebrity news.”
Every day my husband and I are harassed by dozens of aggressive photographers staked outside our home who will go to shocking lengths to obtain any kind of photo, even if it means endangering us or the unlucky pedestrians who happen to be nearby. But setting aside the public safety aspect, I want to focus on the bigger picture of what this insane tabloid ritual represents to all of us.
If I am some kind of symbol to some people out there, then clearly I am an example of the lens through which we, as a society, view our mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, female friends and colleagues. The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing. The way I am portrayed by the media is simply a reflection of how we see and portray women in general, measured against some warped standard of beauty. Sometimes cultural standards just need a different perspective so we can see them for what they really are — a collective acceptance… a subconscious agreement. We are in charge of our agreement. Little girls everywhere are absorbing our agreement, passive or otherwise. And it begins early. The message that girls are not pretty unless they’re incredibly thin, that they’re not worthy of our attention unless they look like a supermodel or an actress on the cover of a magazine is something we’re all willingly buying into. This conditioning is something girls then carry into womanhood. We use celebrity “news” to perpetuate this dehumanizing view of females, focused solely on one’s physical appearance, which tabloids turn into a sporting event of speculation. Is she pregnant? Is she eating too much? Has she let herself go? Is her marriage on the rocks because the camera detects some physical “imperfection”?
The objectification and scrutiny we put women through is absurd and disturbing.
I used to tell myself that tabloids were like comic books, not to be taken seriously, just a soap opera for people to follow when they need a distraction. But I really can’t tell myself that anymore because the reality is the stalking and objectification I’ve experienced first-hand, going on decades now, reflects the warped way we calculate a woman’s worth.
This past month in particular has illuminated for me how much we define a woman’s value based on her marital and maternal status. The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children. In this last boring news cycle about my personal life there have been mass shootings, wildfires, major decisions by the Supreme Court, an upcoming election, and any number of more newsworthy issues that “journalists” could dedicate their resources towards.
Here’s where I come out on this topic: we are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies. That decision is ours and ours alone. Let’s make that decision for ourselves and for the young women in this world who look to us as examples. Let’s make that decision consciously, outside of the tabloid noise. We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own “happily ever after” for ourselves.
We are complete with or without a mate, with or without a child. We get to decide for ourselves what is beautiful when it comes to our bodies.
I have grown tired of being part of this narrative. Yes, I may become a mother some day, and since I’m laying it all out there, if I ever do, I will be the first to let you know. But I’m not in pursuit of motherhood because I feel incomplete in some way, as our celebrity news culture would lead us all to believe. I resent being made to feel “less than” because my body is changing and/or I had a burger for lunch and was photographed from a weird angle and therefore deemed one of two things: “pregnant” or “fat.” Not to mention the painful awkwardness that comes with being congratulated by friends, coworkers and strangers alike on one’s fictional pregnancy (often a dozen times in a single day).
From years of experience, I’ve learned tabloid practices, however dangerous, will not change, at least not any time soon. What can change is our awareness and reaction to the toxic messages buried within these seemingly harmless stories served up as truth and shaping our ideas of who we are. We get to decide how much we buy into what’s being served up, and maybe some day the tabloids will be forced to see the world through a different, more humanized lens because consumers have just stopped buying the bullshit.
And there you have it, someone as beautiful and fit as Jennifer Aniston…on total BULLSHIT. Here here, sister.