A Challenge For Women: Love Yourself

If you haven’t heard already, Lauren Conrad is banning all body-shaming words from her website, including “skinny,” “slim,” and “thin.” Instead, her team of bloggers will be replacing these words with terms such as “fit,” “toned,” and “healthy” to ensure that her readers are not focusing on unhealthy goals or ideals. As if we needed another reason to love LC, here it is!

While I am so happy to read such a positive blog post, it really made me think about the current mindset of America. Doing so has brought me to the conclusion that her blog post shouldn't actually be that big of a deal. Don't get me wrong, I commend Conrad for making such changes, but why should the phrase "All healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes" be such a noteworthy statement?

What's even more upsetting to me is the amount of time it will likely take before her message is considered seriously. While I’d love to believe that this message alone will empower and motivate us all to change the way we think about women’s bodies, it is not enough. What this issue calls for is a collective effort by everyone in changing their current frame of mind. We cannot wait for the entire world to change before we decide to accept and love ourselves.

The biggest challenge in all of this is that our society has been built on principles and ideas that tear women and their self-esteem down. As a result, it is extremely difficult to break the cycle. Most of our generation’s grandmothers have grown up with the notion that women are solely meant to cook, clean, and raise children. They shouldn’t climb the corporate ladder, never mind have a job in the first place. Many of our grandparents can’t even imagine a women standing up for her beliefs or speaking her mind because that would be considered “rebellious.” All in all, our grandparents, and even many of our parents, have been taught that a woman should always “know their place.” The world around us is designed specifically to keep females small.

If you think about it, it’s easy to see how this design translates to society’s warped view of female figures. We learn very young that we should take up as little space as possible, because being tiny is “cute” whereas being “large” is not. Females grow up believing that the entirety of their outward appearance is to be cultivated for men, and whether or not they are beautiful depends on such judgement. These ideas started long before most of us were born, but they affect our generation still. Women today are afraid to begin a weight training program, an activity with so many health benefits, because they do not want to appear “bulky” or “large.” How could anyone argue that this is not an example of mass brainwashing?

Why is this so important for people to know? Why should we make an effort to change now when we’ve been complacent for so long?

The truth is, this mindset is catastrophic for women. Today’s media is constantly exclaiming about feminism and how important it is for women today to continue to better themselves so that they can become leaders tomorrow. Ironically however, women will never be able to become these great leaders that the press and everyone else “fights” for if our society continues to value women by the size of their jeans. How can a female’s hard work be properly recognized when they are constantly labeled in the office as “the pretty one” or “the fat one"? A great way to better women is to see your female co-workers and employees as “the funny one” or “the really smart one.”

Not only does judging success on our waistline hold us back in our careers, it also keeps many of us from living truly happy and healthy lives. The world has become obsessed with “ideal” body types for women, many of which are genetically impossible for most to achieve. This shouldn’t be news. We hear of females (and males I will add) going to extremes all the time in attempt to look the way much of society thinks is attractive or successful. The rate of eating disorders is consistently increasing year after year, and it's not surprising when you look at the facts. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders discovered that the ideal body type portrayed in the media is possessed by a mere five percent of American females. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. What this translates to is the scary truth that women are literally killing themselves to live up to the desired size small.

It’s not as if we haven’t made any progress. Every day you hear about celebrities speaking out against the norm. Demi Lovato does a weekly “make-up free Monday,” encouraging readers to embrace their natural beauty.

Jennifer Lawrence is another star who is notorious for rejecting Hollywood’s demands on female bodies. She famously was quoted for telling the New York Times off when they wrote that “Lawrence’s womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy.” J-Law replied with “I’m never going to starve myself for a part….I don’t want little girls to be like ‘Oh, I want to look like Katniss, so I’m going to skip dinner.’” She’s received praise nationally for standing up to bullies like this.

There are many others like Lovato and Lawrence who are taking steps to encourage wide spread body acceptance. However, it takes more than a few to make the world understand that girls are worth so much more than just their looks. The first step in bettering yourself, and females everywhere, is to start accepting and loving yourself for who you are.

Easier said than done, I know.

Just think about it though, does reading about Jennifer Lawrence and others like them not motivate you to be more positive? Imagine what would happen if we all put forth the effort to be at peace with ourselves. We'd all inspire each other and we would all follow suit. We are educated, successful, college women with our lives just starting to begin. It would be a shame, and also foolish, to not use all of the power and influence we have to better our world.

Besides, us girls gotta stick together right?

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