I was getting really depressed, so I turned on my smartphone camera and went to work ...
We live in a world where advertisers need us to feel intensely insecure about our appearance, in order to sell us as much as possible, and I’m totally fed up with it. I’ve decided I need to get a lot more intentional about safeguarding my own body-positivity, because, good grief, enough is enough. I’m so done with being disappointed every time I look in the mirror. That’s no way to live.
I hit on something good this summer, when I had to go shopping for a swimsuit. That’s literally my least favorite activity. I’ve never come out of the store feeling even remotely okay about how I look. This time, I decided, it was going to be different. This time, whenever I saw an ad or slogan that was clearly designed to make me feel terrible about my body, I pulled out my phone and took a picture.
“Designed to give you the added length and proportion you need … it’s the control that lets you breathe!” … Um, I’m pretty sure I’m exactly as long and human-proportioned as God intended, but thanks for the offer. Click
“Vanishing Act: reveal a sleeker, smoother you — instantly!”Even at the steep price of being a little lumpy (gasp,) I’m thinking I prefer to remain visible. Click
“Swim Solutions: bust support, waist minimizer, tummy control” Gee, I had no idea I was supposed to be looking for a solution to my body’s structure. Click
True, I got some strange looks in the store.
I actually burst into giggles when this one turned up. It’s pretty much the crown jewel of my collection:
“Magicsuit: fashion forward body control for a modern woman. Appear sleeker, slimmer, in seconds”
I laughed because I was translating it in my head. What it was really saying was, “You are such a mess that only illusions and cheats could save you now. If you really want to be a part of the modern world, you need to get your unruly self under control, and quick!”
Here’s what I’ve realized: When we’re dealing with other people, the absolute worst kind of insult is the subtle kind, because that gets past your defenses. It’s the difference between somebody saying, “You’re so ugly!” and somebody asking sweetly, “Oh, you’re going to wear that?” I can shrug off the first. The second, not so much. It would leave me with a icky feeling of inadequacy for hours, before I realized why it hurt.
So essentially, I’m just working on taking all those subtle digs and hints that the world keeps throwing at me, and taking out the element of subtlety. Then, instead of feeling ashamed, I can just feel indignant — and then move on, cause who cares what the mall thinks of how I look, right? If the mall were my boyfriend, I would so dump him.
Okay, I know I just gave you a bunch of examples from swimsuit marketing (I don’t buy new clothes very often!) but this kind of marketing nonsense is everywhere. There was that shapewear video, promising to compress all your lumps and rolls into a shape that other human beings could tolerate looking at, with the tagline, “Wear whatever you want!” (Well golly, I’m so glad I have your permission … ) And don’t even get me started on the passive-aggressive remarks the underwear marketing people get away with. Every new season has marketing agencies scrambling to think of new ways to tell us we’re not really good enough, not yet anyway.
Anyway, all I know is that normally I come away from a shopping trip in need of a mountain of chocolate and a lot of emotional support from my husband, but that day I walked out of the mall in a great mood, so I think as strategies go, this one is a win.
Struggling with your body image? St. Catherine is here to help