Negative Body Image Knows No Body Type

If you’ve been reading this blog for more than a week, you know that I have struggled with body image issues. Like so many young females, today’s society made me believe I was supposed to look a certain way to be beautiful, and that I certainly wasn’t supposed to love myself if I didn’t meet those standards.

weirdo

Standards, like, not being a weirdo. Definitely don’t meet that qualification.

I got some flack for the post I wrote about gaining weight. People wrote emails and posted negative comments on the internet about how I am “too thin to complain about gaining weight and struggling with body image issues.”

……?

For three and a half years, I’ve tried to use this platform to normalize things from mental health to body image to being a weird human being; but clearly, I’ve got a ways to go.

Speaking in societal terms, I’m average; even leaning towards the thin end of the spectrum. As a recovering body-hater, it’s taken me years to realize this.

The point of me, a normal-border-line-thin girl, writing about body image issues is to prove that this type of struggle doesn’t belong to one body type.

BR

my thick eyebrows used to make me SO self-conscious!

That’s right! Negative body image knows no body type. The only requirement for having body image issues is having a body.

Secondly, if someone thinner than you opens up to you about her struggles with her own body image you might roll your eyes and say to yourself, “God, if she thinks SHE’S fat, what does she think about ME?”

I can assure you, friend, that she doesn’t think anything about you.

Did you get that? It’s not about you.

Negative body image doesn’t care if a girl is thin, fat, round, stocky, lanky, black, white, or purple. It doesn’t matter how you a see a girl, it matters how she sees herself. Let her own her struggles. It’s impossible (not to mention, RUDE) if you tell someone how she is supposed to feel. 

If she opens up to you about her struggle, just listen.

Lastly, remember, if (if! if! if!) she’s comparing herself to you, I can guarantee that in her mind, she’s not measuring up to the beautiful person she thinks you are.

Comments

  1. says

    This is why we’re twins. I wrote this a while back: “My body’s appearance does not give anyone a right to tell me which feelings I may or may not have about it. My struggle with acceptance is no harder or easier than yours because our situations differ. I may not know what it’s like to be a certain size, shape, or color, but that does not automatically mean I don’t know what it’s like to hurt as ‘badly’ as the person next to me. Outward appearances don’t dictate inner feelings.”

    Seriously, I understand the need to censor certain things in life, but how I feel about myself is not one of them. When people start keeping all of that negativity in, it totally manifests itself in unhealthy behaviors. End of story.

    I feel like I have to say something weird and immature right now because that just got heavy. I’ll show some restraint, though. ;)

  2. Kathleen says

    Great post. Keep focusing on the positive feedback. Your posts are hilarious, real, and RELATABLE. That’s what makes your blog so fun to read! And you’re right, body image issues know no body type. I think, to some degree, every person struggles with it. Thanks for giving that a voice.

  3. says

    This post rings true for me on so many levels. I have friends who often roll their eyes when I talk about my body image struggles. They can’t understand why I feel the way I do when I have what most people would consider a normal body size. But on the other hand i don’t let my friends own their struggles either. When they tell me they aren’t confident or don’t love their body, I always say something along the lines of “Are you serious? You look great!” While I truly believe what I’m saying, I agree that we need to let people own their struggles and not impose our own judgments and thoughts on them.

    As always, great post, C!!

    • Colleen says

      Thank you, P! I know, it’s so difficult to know impose our own thoughts and judgments on other people. All I can do is make an effort!

  4. says

    So true. I’m sure that lots of people do think, “God, if she thinks she’s fat, what does she think about me?”, but think about the people we are taught to compare ourselves to! The media doesn’t push young women to compare themselves to average-sized or average-looking models or actresses or singers. We’re always comparing ourselves to THE MOST PERFECT image, and that can hurt ANYONE’S body image no matter what they look like.

  5. Amy says

    Amen sister!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this!! As a woman who is still recovering from a nasty eating disorder and major body image issues, this post (and many previous) means a lot. It absolutely disgusts me that you have got flack for your “gaining weight” post…forget those people–as they probably have no idea what kind of struggle we deal with each and every day! You’re very inspirational; don’t let any one tell you anything different :)

  6. says

    As a girl who has recently lost weight I can tell you that losing weight does NOT mean losing a bad body image. No number on the scale or size jean is ever going to be good enough when you have a bad body image. I still struggle to remind myself how HAPPY I am to be a lot healthier and to ignore all those numbers! You are beautiful at any size and I loved both the gaining weight post and this one!

    • Colleen says

      Thank you! You’re so right — the numbers don’t mean anything if you’re not happy with WHO you are. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “I have this much farther to go” rather than focusing on “Look how far I’ve come!”

  7. Fiona says

    Wow. This post summed up my feelings for the past 20 odd years, basically most of my life! I have sent a link to friends, must have read for all.

  8. says

    Thank you so much for writing this! I wish I could share this a million times!!!!

    I must admit, I am guilty of looking at friends who are smaller than me, wondering why they have body image issues, but then when a friend who is larger than me does that to me I’m like “Hey! I can have this problem too!”. It’s all relative and subjective and personal. And just because you’re someone else’s ideal weight doesn’t mean you’re your ideal weight! (Just using weight as an example… several other body image issues could be substituted)

    PS – I used to hate my thick eyebrows too! But a lot of my thin-eyebrowed friends love them and look at them longingly! Lol So now I embrace and love them (among other things) :)

    This is awesome. Keep it up.

    • Colleen says

      LOL, Tara! I wish you could share it a million times, too! ;)

      I think we’re ALL guilty of thinking “She’s so perfect! What does she have to be insecure about?!” about some else. It’s natural. And you’re SO RIGHT about just because you’re someone else’s ideal weight doesn’t mean you’re your ideal weight.

      PS – Thick eyebrows unite!

  9. says

    I love you so so much. Body image is a personal struggle, which is why I never understood when people judged others for being insecure about their own bodies. Regardless of weight or size, body image can attack anyone. I actually began feeling insecure and having negative body images AFTER I had lost 50 pounds. It doesn’t always make sense, but everyone’s personal views on their own bodies is PERSONAL!

  10. says

    Wonderful! I love this, and completely agree. I often write the same thing. We don’t see the faults in others like we see in ourselves. Just because we suffer with our own body image doesn’t think we don’t see the beauty in those around us! Great post.

  11. says

    Great post, Col. This is something that I’m sure is going to ring true for SO many people out there, myself included! (P.S. just emailed you with my super awkward response, haha) ;)

  12. says

    Must SHOUT IN ALL CAPS!!! The asshats (yeah, I’m not holding back here) who sent you those emails and made those ignorant comments are PRECISELY the reason we “thin” people feel even MORE NEGATIVE about our bodies. I’ve struggled just like you, even though I’ve always been thin. But then, when society DICTATES that we aren’t allowed to feel bad, we’re hit with a double whammy. Let’s just do every woman (and man) a favor and be encouraging to every BODY. Nobody is perfect, and nobody needs criticism from those who should be supporting us and celebrating us. Grrrrr! Kudos for this post. Also, your eyebrows are awesome! :)

  13. Laura says

    It is SO unbelievably refreshing to read your honest words. THANK YOU for being so real and writing about the content that matters to you – it clearly is resonating with so many others, myself included. :)

  14. says

    Geeze Louise, this is the best post EVER. I get so sick of people thinking that just because I’m “fit” in their eyes that I don’t get to have human emotions. On a similar note, it gets freaking old when people comment on my diet and exercise all the time. For example, “why are you eating a salad, you’re already skinny”. I’m getting angry typing this, I will stop now.

  15. says

    This is perfect. I’ve never felt like I could open up about my body image issues because I feel like people are so insensitive and judge-y about them. I also hate when people try to push you to eat unhealthy things because you’re “not fat.” Maybe I’m just trying to be healthy! Thanks for a very real post.

  16. says

    This is a fabulous post, Colleen. It’s absolutely 110% true that anyone can have negative body image issues…thin, fat, tall, short, alike. People shouldn’t judge just because you don’t “look” like someone who should have body image issues. Who are they to tell me how or how not to feel! You go girl!

  17. Jess says

    Awesome post! You put into words exactly how I feel most of the time. I’m also average/thin… but only after an episode with an ED. I’m gaining weight and confidence, but still have negative body images sometimes. Whenever I happen to make a comment about myself when I’m having an “off” day, my family or friends just roll their eyes or say something like “Well, if you think that about yourself, then I should really lose weight” or “You’re too skinny to think that.” It’s so true that body image has nothing to do with how I think of other people or my weight, but just the struggle I have with feeling comfortable about myself. So happy someone else has felt that way. Stay strong! :)

  18. says

    You have just amazing post! This one is truly awesome! I feel this post needs to be read by everyone!!! Because I will say that when I compare myself to someone else, it is not about them but about me.

  19. Alanna says

    I have always thought you have the best eyebrows. And complexion/skin. And you rock a pixie cut better than anyone I’ve ever seen!

    But I digress. I had(have) my fair share of body image/weight/calorie counting issues and I, too, am on the “thinner” side of the spectrum and I despise people who say “Oh I would kill to be your size! What do you have to worry about?! You couldn’t get smaller if you tried!”

    I’m always like, well..I’d kill to be ANY size as long as it meant loving my body. Ugh. Major pet peeve! Great post :)

  20. says

    I love your posts about mental health and body image. I totally agree — everyone’s body image is about them, no one else. “The only requirement for having body image issues is having a body.” Genius.

    I’ve been toeing the line (had to google how to actually write that) recently between having a good body image — I worked hard on that over the last few years — but also needing to lose weight. My husband had noticed my weight gain but I really hadn’t. When my pants got tighter, I just stopped wearing them. I don’t have a scale and we don’t have a full length mirror so I didn’t notice until we were at a hotel and I saw a full length mirror. I still love my body and feel mostly good in it, but I would like to lose weight and look forward to feeling “skinny.” I guess that’s a healthy place to be in when you want to get your weight down. Good talk, that’s for prompting this reflection, I hope it’s not too much for a comment.

  21. says

    This is such a great post! I am very intrigued by the whole topic of body image and the social stigma around it. Everyone struggles with it, because at some point in their lives they were taught certain expectations of beauty and they started to realize they didn’t meet the criteria. Which is awful, because everyone is different and beautiful in their own way…and who decides what’s considered beautiful anyway? And…on top of it all, who cares what the hell you look like? I have to keep reminding myself this. No one is noticing my cellulite. If they do…who cares? It’s there.

  22. says

    AWESOME, kick-butt post and true on so many levels! The fact is, I am extremely underweight because of health complications from celiac disease. The fact is, I am trying desperately to gain weight. But I’ve found that I can’t talk about it with other people because I’ll only hear about how “lucky” I am to be skinny. You’re entirely right for saying that our weight and our body image issues are our own problem – and no matter how we appear on the outside, the inside is entirely separate and personal.

    Awesome post and I wish you luck on your journey, the trolls, and life! :) Keep up the amazing writing!

    http://caseythecollegeceliac.blogspot.com/2014/04/self-love-with-celiac.html

  23. Heather B says

    I can’t tell you how much I love this blog post. I’m actually relatively thin at 103 pounds and 5’3″ and I workout. BUT everyone has those days and I feel like I can’t have a fat day without someone bringing up anorexica or something. You go girl!

  24. says

    This is so, so beautiful. You’re awesome.

    P.S. I’m catching up with my blog reading if you couldn’t tell from all the comments I keep leaving hahaha

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