My coworker thinks she’s fat.
I had no idea she had such massive body-image issues until quite recently. I observed her pinching her waist flesh through her uniform during a quiet moment at work, and enquired what she was doing.
“Meaty…” was her comment.
“That’s not a bad thing, right?” I was foolish enough to say.
“It’s bad,” came the reply. Wow.
Just to get things straight, this girl is absolutely gorgeous. Amazonically tall for a Japanese, face so striking she could easily be a model if only she wanted to, and a body with actual curves. All that, and so insecure she’s obsessing about her squishy bits at work.
Not that I should be surprised. Thinness is ridiculously pervasive in Japanese society as a beauty ideal. It’s extremely rare to see a woman on Japanese TV who isn’t a lovely, slender twig – occasionally with boobs glued on. In fact, it would be a safe bet to say that the only time my coworker sees anyone even close to her body shape in popular media, would be in the ‘before’ images of all the advertisements proclaiming that “You too can lose weight!”
Popular media like to pretend that there is only one way to be beautiful, and that any person who doesn’t fit with this very specific ideal is not attractive. This is an attitude that has a serious negative impact on the self-confidence of many women – and many men too, because let’s not forget that the media likes to talk about masculine ideals as well. In fact, the media is so insistant on this one perfect ideal, that it’s easy to forget that not so long ago, they were promoting a different ideal entirely.
Body types come in and out of fashion. So, if a plump, lusciously soft, curvy look is good enough for one decade, why is it suddenly considered horrendously ‘out of shape’ just a few decades later? These days, we pride ourselves on individualism. We know we’re all different, all unique, and that’s not a bad thing. So why are we still trying so desperately to look the same?
Rather than obsessing over a single arbitrary ideal, why don’t we all just get over ourselves and accept that a healthy body looks different on everyone? Every person has their own unique qualities that make them attractive, in whatever shape their body is naturally supposed to be. It’s ridiculously sad that most of us don’t even seem to be able to see that.
Is there anything you’ve learned to love about your own shape that you had difficulty coming to terms with at first, or that other people don’t seem to be as happy with? Or maybe you know someone who’s insecure about a feature that you actually find extremely attractive. Feel free to share share your inspiring tales of uniquely beautiful body-image in the comments section below.