Not too long ago, I wrote a song about my struggle with body image and I resolved never to perform it, release it, or talk about it in public.
But between yesterday and today I got into a heated debate with someone (a male) who lacked empathy for his female counterparts who felt pressured to conform to the Western standard of “beauty”.
His assertion was that any man or woman could have the body they wanted, so long as he or she worked hard enough. I could look like a Victoria’s Secret model if I stopped making excuses for myself: whining about bad genetics, varying body types, slow metabolism, and lack of time to hit the gym. Never mind the fact that most runway models meet the BMI physical criteria for anorexia, are usually around 6 feet tall, and weigh an average of 117 pounds. (Here are more disturbing facts for you, if that didn’t ruffle your feathers. http://www.upworthy.com/5-reasons-why-my-girlfriend-thinks-shes-not-beautiful-enough-no-matter-what-anyone-tells-her-5)
I am by no means fat - I weigh about 110 pounds and I wear a size 2. I practice yoga 2-3 times a week and do cardio and strength training another 2-3 days a week, while eating whole foods and treating myself to the occasional cookie. My midsection has never been flat and it took a long time and flirting with unhealthy behavior to accept that it never will be.
Sure, I could stop writing songs and spend each and every hour of my day working towards having a “hot body”. But instead of telling me that I CAN look like a Victoria’s Secret model (which won’t happen unless I miraculously undergo a growth spurt, eat nothing but celery sticks, and get breast implants) - he should realize that I don’t NEED to look like one.
I don’t usually post lyrics, but here’s a little excerpt of that song. It’s called “Human” and I hope it will better help unsympathetic males and/or fat-shamers understand the unhealthy self talk that often occurs within the Western female psyche.
You can try but you can’t reach
The cookie jar
On the top of the counter filled with all those sweet, naive little dreams
You must earn the right to be pleased
Why do you take up so much space?
To waste away would be a blessing
You best shape up
It’s not enough
To be human
Wake up and wipe your eyes
Of the sleep that leaves you paralyzed
Sugar plum fairies circling around your head
How you yearn to look like them
Skin and bones
and a soul somewhere underneath
is the spirit that’s longing to break free.
What saddens me most is the fact that this young man with whom I debated may have a daughter one day. And his telling her to be the “best that can be be” will be his telling her to conform to impossible standards of beauty that have the potential to make her sick, physically and mentally. So yes, I do feel the need to record and release this song. Glad that some inspiration came out of such an upsetting and bitter conversation.