They happen ever so often. The "Oh that is a big portion!"-comments to jokes on when I will be having my baby. Next thing, it is on when I last weighed myself for now I appear to be shrinking ("Is this veganism-thing really healthy?"). And let us not forget the 'well-meaning' advice on how I "could be really pretty, if only I looked after myself better".
Goodness me, let a woman live.
What you need to understand, dear imposer, is this: Beauty is not, unlike popular patriarchic belief, some sort of tax a woman has to pay to exist in this world. Every time you drop a comment, however seemingly innocent, that passes judgement on some body you are actively participating in keeping this issue alive. You are with your words adding fuel to the fire.
The older I get, the more fascinated are my feelings towards the body. Think for a moment of all the things that your body can do. How it is constantly trying to keep a conversation with you, if only you would stop to listen. It is, without a doubt, the greatest tool you will ever have.
And this is why I try to focus on what my body feels like, rather than what it may look like.
Yet I cannot help but to let these comments get the best out of me at times. When my body is not allowed to be just a tool. A flushed feeling of embarrassment enters the stage. And this really puzzles me. Because I want to be strong and fierce, I want to be able to just shake it off. I know, at least the rational part of my brain knows for fact, that I am perfectly fabulous in all my imperfections. So what provokes these feelings? Last time this happened, I sat down to try and pin point why.
The seemingly endless hours throughout adolescence spent in front of the mirror springs to mind. Wishing my nose to be smaller, my waist thinner, my skin like honeydew, along with all kinds of "if only's" that I was convinced would drastically change my life to the better. Just as we are made to believe.
I think of this, and I give myself a break. I mean, no wonder my reaction to comments like these leave me puzzled. It is so deeply rooted. When you have already spent the better half of the 21st century on self doubt, it is a remarkably easy habit to fall back into. And by no means am I alone in this.
What takes my frustration one step further is to REALLY think of all that time. All that wasted time. All that time that could, and should, have been spent reading books, learnt the harmonica, climbed a tree top or watched a good film (one that has actually passed the bechdel test, i.e.). All the time that me and my tween peers simply sat by to watch boys do things. Boys on skateboards, boys in band practise, boys playing video games, boys doing graffiti, boys fiddling with engines.
By the time we have reached adulthood the gap in the amount of time we have been allowed to develop ourselves and our knowledge of said self huge.
And so I am writing this because I want the next generation to grow up and know that they are capable, that their worth is in their actions, in their words, in their intentions, and not in what other people perceive (and then feel the urge to share. Please, learn when it is appropriate to shut up!) in their outerly appearances. It should not have to take 20+ years to reach that conclusion. We can make this reality, by choosing our words.
So dear imposer, before you open your mouth to spread these seeds of self doubt in another, please take a moment to consider what it brings to your life. Because it is such a draining, boring, outdated waste of our time. We are ready to move on.
You should be too.