Embrace: Discomfort

Operation Beautiful: Salt Lake City (Dan's Market)

Image by djwaldow via Flickr

Not the most welcoming, feel-good title for a blog post, but a little discomfort can be a good thing!  You’ve probably already heard that you can’t expect to grow as a person without experiencing a little discomfort (I mean, you’ve heard of growing pains, right?) and yes, it’s become cliché, but it’s also true.

And that pithy introduction brings us to something I’ve been thinking about saying for a while: why have we let ourselves get so comfortable with the idea that there is something wrong with the way we look?  Why do we accept the images we see of women in advertising and the media?  Are we resigned to the idea that there’s really nothing we can say or do that will bring about positive change?

If I believed that the answer to these questions were yes, then obviously I wouldn’t be sitting at my computer writing this very blog post; I would give up on Embrace:Me and I’d have far fewer topics to write about in general.  However, we have a long way to go and the idea of a comfort zone is very relevant to the work that needs to be done.  To be more precise, in order to change the way women’s bodies are treated in the media and in all the images we see on a daily basis, we have to raise our voices and show that we’re dissatisfied with the norm.  We have to push beyond disliking our bodies, or parts of our bodies, and begin the work of accepting them.  It’s not going to be comfortable–it’s far easier to continue hating your thighs when you’ve hated them for the past however-many years than it is to make a change and start liking them–but really, it shouldn’t be comfortable.  Being comfortable perpetuates the status quo.  We want to shake things up, be disruptive, and let others know that we’ve had enough of the message that our bodies are not good enough, that we’re not good enough.

How do we do this?  We can start small–instead of responding to a post like this by saying, “I wish I were brave enough to do that”, do it.   You don’t have to post it somewhere public, but think about doing it for yourself, keeping the pictures somewhere visible, and telling yourself that that’s a woman’s body and it’s beautiful every time you look at them.  Maybe you don’t feel like you have that courage.  That’s fine, try faking it until you do.  Or try something bigger–write to advertisers and tell them what you don’t like about what they’re doing; email Shape magazine or FitSugar and tell them that you think they’re hypocritical and their message is not wholly positive; maybe even stick a post-it note with a body-friendly message (à la Operation Beautiful) on the cover of a body-unfriendly fashion or fitness magazine.  Make your voice heard, whether it’s the positive voice inside of you shouting down the negative one, or your real voice in discussion with others.  Speak up!  Get pissed off about the fact that you are comfortable feeling less-than-great about yourself!  You deserve better!

Let’s make ourselves uncomfortable, and let’s make others uncomfortable as well.  It’s the only way anything is ever going to change.

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One comment

  1. Interesting point! I’ve found that focusing on physical achievements helps me to overcome negative body image thoughts. Instead of seeing giant thighs that rub together when I run, I can say “these legs just carried me through a 10km run”. I find it really motivational, because it keeps me wanting to push for farther and faster!

    See my recent post for a response piece on “real women” that I think you might find interesting, Emilie 🙂

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