Last night, in my quick post-work dip into the Olympic-sized pool of chlorinated status updates that is Faceplant, I saw something that both horrified me and made me incredibly proud. I'm still trying to work out which emotion is running hottest, but by the time I finish writing this post it will no doubt become fairly evident.
I saw this.
Today I got called fat.
And for me that's not a big deal because I'm someone that can handle comments like that fairly well, but today I also realised that I'm not the only girl that has been body shamed or has been 'picked on' for their appearance.
All real bodies are good bodies, and girls shouldn't be made to feel as though they need to change their appearance based on the way that society has painted the picture for all bodies to be.
Curves are beautiful, tiny waists are beautiful, thick thighs are beautiful and so are slim thighs. All bodies are beautiful no matter the shape or colour.
God, if everyone looked the same the world would be one boring place. #stopbodyshaming
I know this isn't a new emotion, or a new statement for that matter. But in this instance, it hit home hard, because the person who wrote it is someone I love. A person whom I know to be giving, and good, and kind, and brave. A person who is one of the most beautiful young women I have ever been privileged to know, and whom I am even more privileged to have greet me with the same excitement at 16 that she did at 12. (How many 16 year olds say "WOOOOOOOOOTTTT!!!" when they find out you are in town?)
Let me make something clear. When I use the word 'beautiful', I don't just mean she is pretty, or attractive, or pleasing to the eye - although she is all of these things. She is a gorgeous young woman, who is going to be a gorgeous adult far too soon for my liking and that of her parents, especially her father, whom I foresee sitting on the front porch with a shotgun in hand, scaring off potential suitors from his rocking chair.
This would be easier if he had a. a porch; b. a rocking chair, and c. knew how to tell which end of a rifle was up, but that's kind of beside the point. She is gorgeous, this is a simple truth; because, to paraphrase the words of Dorothy Parker, who, like myself, knew how to be very, very ugly with her tongue... she is beautiful clean to the bone.
If she is being called fat, there is something horribly wrong with perception. This girl has a figure I would have killed for at her age, because I was - hmmmm, let's say a beanpole with freckles, and leave it there. She is active, and fit, and intelligent, and can obviously stand up for herself. But it's more than that. As she herself said, so eloquently and simply "girls shouldn't be made to feel as though they need to change their appearance based on the way that society has painted the picture for all bodies to be".
In the Regency era, women put wax pads inside their cheeks to make their faces fashionably plump. In the Edwardian, they constrained their rib cages and spines to the point of deformity with corsets. The 20s, thin was in. The 50s? Marilyn Monroe and curves were back with a vengeance, baby.
Now? It's The Age of Kardashian, where cosmetic surgery is considered an acceptable sixteenth birthday gift. 'Happy Birthday, sweetie... you don't have enough turmoil going on with your hormones, so here's new teeth/breasts/a nose/lips/skin colour to confuse you even more about what you should look like to be a happy, whole human being'.
I don't even blame the person who said it in many ways. Because if it was a boy - what the hell are they supposed to think? They're surrounded by fake, 24/7. It is permeating into every aspect of their lives, especially online; games, movies, and yes, porn. And if it was a girl - they are just trying to keep up with the Kims, the Khloes, and the rest of the Klones who wouldn't know what their original body and face looked like if it walked down the street and said 'hi' to them.
It's not healthy to be obese; it's not healthy to be unfit. And as a country, we are larger and more unfit than ever before in statistical history.
There is a massive difference between being dangerously overweight and unfit, and a cruel and unfair perception based purely on fake societal values of what beauty is. There is also a massive difference between having butt implants for vanity, and having a strong, muscular butt and thighs from exercise and athleticism. We see Kim Kardashian praised for her look, and Anna Meares called a big-arsed bloke. One is famous for - well, I'm still not sure. The other is a multiple world champion and Olympic medallist. And yet the former is praised, the other reviled. Perhaps some will say I'm being a hypocrite for criticising Kim Kardashian. That isn't what I'm doing. What I'm doing is pointing out that two women with similar body shapes are seen in very different lights, and it's based on no inner beauty.
If a 16 year old girl can see this - that all real bodies are good bodies - then why the hell can't advertisers and other so-called responsible adults? And it is their views which are reflected in the words being issued by her peers.
And yes, my darling girl...
If everyone looked the same - my God, the world would be one hell of a boring place. So stop. Stop the shaming. And the next time you see someone, and go to judge them on their body shape alone?
Say something nice, or if you are so far gone into The Land Of Make Believe, that all you can see is faults, don't say anything at all. Otherwise the hashtag deserves to be #shameonyou.