It’s been a struggle to get back into my writing after breaking for several months because of my studies. I needed to find a starting point to get back into it and I’ve been having a mini-debate in my head over it. Needless to say, I could’ve saved my energy and angst because such a topic presented itself looking up workout challenges on Pinterest…
I’ve been doing a few 30-day workout challenges (which I’ve been loving) and I needed a new challenge so I typed “30-day workout challenge” in the Pinterest search tab. One of the first to come up read “lose your hip dips in 30-days”. My initial reaction was ‘what the fuck are hip dips?!’ but then I became interested because of the visuals that accompanied the post.
It looked like the same hip dips that I had been looking at in the mirror most of my adult life. Having made this discovery that hip dips are something to get rid of, I spent the next 20 minutes looking up numerous exercise plans to get rid of said hip dips. I penciled them into my workout routines for the next few weeks and started looking at the equipment I would need online. Then, I slapped myself across the face. Not literally. Calm down.
When do we start body shaming ourselves?
It’s been said that girls as young as four can start becoming biased towards slender bodies rather than rounder ones. Pre-school students can start comparing their bodies and find dissatisfaction in their own bodies. That means that the average woman compares their body for their entire life or at least the life they remember.
I can’t tap into my pre-school mind but I do remember the first time someone noticed my weight gain. It was in 1999 and I was visiting my grandparents. My grandmother made a comment about my face growing rounder because I was putting on weight and my parents agreed that it was true, I was larger than the previous year. I had no idea I was bigger, it hadn’t occurred to me because I was still wearing crop tops and living my best life. There were photos that were developed and there was a giggle at my bulging belly over my pants, my fat rolls. From that moment, and it continues today, I am so self-conscious of my rolls in any photograph. I remember cutting a photo in half in Grade 7 because my rolls were showing in it. My friend had printed out the photo and I cut it up before shoving the ‘rolls evidence’ in my bag to take home. Nobody was allowed to see it because it was gross.
What if we didn’t know how to shame our bodies?
I lived in total bliss, just me and my hip dips, until I came across that article that told me they were undesirable. I didn’t know that I had gained weight or that my rolls were bad until they were pointed out to me. Imagine, just for a minute, if we were never told what body we were supposed to be striving for? What would happen if the ideal body didn’t exist and we were all just that, ideal bodies, all on our own?
If you didn’t know a ‘muffin top’ was a bad thing, would you give a shit about your own? Imagine you never knew what a diet was and didn’t know it was something we could use to deprive ourselves in order to attain a media-driven body. We would all be so much happier. There must’ve been a time when all parts of the body were just accepted and not ripped to shreds. A time where we just understood that what we had was ours and that we were enough. The world is slowly moving into the ‘love yourself’ era but it takes years of unlearning and my ‘hip dip’ incident proved that.
As it stands, we can only lay the foundation for future generations of women. We need to tell them from birth that their bodies are OK just the way they are. Parents need to pump the breaks on their diets and stop advertising new diets to their children. Diet culture consumes the lives of young girls because they are constantly trying to achieve the impossible; attaining an unattainable body based off of a magazine.
It’s hard to love your body and to be comfortable with all the things you’ve been told are wrong about it. There is no denying that. I still scrutinize my body most nights before hopping in the shower, but we can start to unlearn what we’ve experienced.