As I was driving home from work the other day I heard a disturbing radio advertisement. The ad started off by saying that 43% of all women find at least one part of their body disgusting. Wow. I have often heard that many women have things they dislike about their body, but to find it disgusting? “Okay,” I thought, “You have my attention.” I was eager to hear the rest of the spot, assuming that it was a plug for some sort of therapy, workshop, or inspiring book… something help improve women’s body image and encourage them to realize their own beauty.
Boy was I wrong.
The ad continued. It was a spot for “practically painless” breast augmentation. In a nutshell, it was an advertisement that took an already sad statistic and made it worse by basically saying, “And you should be disgusted! You are not beautiful. You need surgery. Come, we’ll help you.”
Talk about disgusting.
Body image issues. Check this spoof out:
The body image battle is a hard one.
I totally understand the desire to be beautiful. Who doesn’t want to feel attractive? And I also understand why so many struggle to maintain a healthy body image. Society paints a pretty unrealistic and unattainable idea of beauty. All one has to do is open a magazine, turn on the TV, go to the movies, drive past some bill board, walk through the mall, listen to the radio, go online… (I could keep going, but I think you get the point)… We are surrounded by messages, both visual and other, that tell us we are not good enough.
I remember some time ago sitting down next a little two-year old girl at my church’s nursery. As I tried to delicately place my full-grown adult body in the tiny little chair, this girl looked up at me. Her eyes widened and she exclaimed, “Oh! You are so beautiful!” Now, I’m not completely numb to society’s ideals. With my hair pulled back into a quick pony tail, nose red from a winter cold, and the overall “blahness” I was feeling from helping too many snotty-nosed children, I definitely wasn’t feeling all that beautiful. And yet, it warmed my heart to remember that for these children, the effects of society hadn’t isolated, separated, and catalogued the idea of beauty just yet. This girl really saw beauty in everyone. Even me.
I appreciate the efforts some organizations and companies are making to get the message out: Beauty comes in many forms. However, their efforts need our help. We need to recognize our own beauty. Rather than isolating body parts to attack with a critical eye, consider the wholeness of your body. Rather than focusing on what your body can’t do, consider the role your physical being plays in your whole life.
Rather thank seeing just your “body image” remember that you are more than something to be looked at.
Recognize how your body allows you to function and express yourself in this world. If you stop for a moment, you might look past the seemingly “disgusting” parts and see an absolute miracle of beauty within the whole. After all, you are beautiful.
Trust me, I see it.
(top featured image by Laia Xixons, Flickr)