You were in the hot tub hanging out after I had finished my lane swim. You were young, barely in your twenties. You were both wearing bikinis, not even a hint of a skin roll evident. You had, by society’s standards, the perfect body shapes. And you didn’t know it.
Obviously close friends, I caught a bit of your conversation. I wasn’t really trying to eavesdrop, it’s just that I was sitting right next to you in contemplative silence and I heard. I heard you complaining about all the parts of yourself you didn’t like, particularly your ‘fat’ thighs. I heard you talking about diets and exercise and how you need more of both. I heard you begrudgingly admit your problem was cheese and sugar and how impossible you were finding it to stay away from either. I heard, although you didn’t say it directly, that you would likely never be happy with your appearance; always finding a flaw that needed improvement. I heard everything that society has been telling you for your entire lives, all summed up in those five minutes beside you. And more than anything, I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry.
I’m sorry that we haven’t taught you that you are beautiful and perfect simply because you exist. You are.
I’m sorry that we push these constant images of photoshopped perfection into every facet of your daily lives, influencing you to try to achieve that impossible standard of beauty. We market these images as reality and they are anything but.
I’m sorry that everyday you are bombarded with ads for the newest weight loss program or gimmick. That’s all they are, by the way – gimmicks. Designed to make you dependent and their pockets bigger, all while reinforcing the message that you are never going to be good enough just the way you are. That’s what they want, for you to live in a constant state of dissatisfaction. It’s working.
I’m sorry that you think you’ll be happier at a different weight, or with different thighs. Happiness comes from within your soul, not from the reflection in the mirror.
I’m sorry that you feel you need to deprive yourself of the foods you love. You have but one life to live and if that life looks dismal without cheese and sugar is it really worth the restriction?
I’m sorry that you only think you’re worthy at a certain size. Actually, I’m sorry that we haven’t shown love to everyone regardless of their size, gender, race, religion or orientation. The world kind of sucks for that and we’re certainly not doing you any favours. The truth is that your weight will fluctuate naturally throughout the years and all that really signifies is a number on a scale. You are still YOU and anyone that matters in your life shouldn’t care about anything else.
I’m sorry that we equate health with size. Healthy habits and healthy persons present themselves in all sizes. So do unhealthy ones. This notion of healthy = skinny is seriously harmful.
And most of all, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this that day, in the hot tub. I didn’t want to interrupt. I didn’t know if my comments would be welcomed. I should’ve tried anyway. I should’ve told you that you were beautiful. I should’ve spoken on behalf of all of society when I told you two simple words: I’m sorry.