I've been writing about body image for two years now, without stopping to think about why I'm doing it. It happened naturally. Sometimes, when people asked me what I was writing about, I'd laugh a little. I'd make a joke about bras and PMS and the color pink. Body image doesn't always feel like a serious topic. It feels like something we're all supposed to get over in time to talk about the things that really matter. But recently, when another blogger asked me to write about why I write about body image, I realized that I was completely serious.
I write about body image because I love eating cake, but women around me are always dieting.
I write about body image because I have been told it doesn't matter, but every year, more girls have eating disorders. More girls die from them.
I write about body image because everyone cares about beauty, no matter how much we tell ourselves we don't. And because, really, we are beautiful, no matter how much we tell ourselves we aren't.
I write about body image because I moved to Manhattan, where suddenly everyone was very thin and very careful about eating and always going to the gym and suddenly it occurred to me that I was not thin enough and not pretty enough and very bad at going to the gym.
I write about body image because I noticed that after I noticed that I was maybe not thin enough, I stopped eating some of my favorite foods. They slipped out of my diet. I said no to dessert. I felt guilty when I gave in and made pasta for dinner. I felt guilty all the time, because all the time, I was cheating. There were all of these rules about what I could and couldn't eat, and how much of it was OK, and I had somehow memorized them without even being aware of it, and now, when I broke them, I was ashamed.
I write about body image because I got a nose job because my big Jewish nose seemed like the opposite of beauty. Because when I told people that famous, beautiful women never have big Jewish noses, they always said, "What about Barbara Streisand?" and that was a long time ago. No one can think of anyone more recent. And also, because when my boyfriend who became my husband told me over and over that my nose was beautiful, I didn't really believe him, even though I should have.
I write about body image because people make fun of people who get cosmetic surgery, even though when I got cosmetic surgery, there was nothing funny about it. I hated my face. I wanted to destroy my old face.
I write about body image because I don't look like a model, but sometimes, automatically, I really wish I looked like a model. And at the same time, I really wish I didn't wish that.
I write about body image to give myself permission to gain weight.
I write about body image because I am not over it. But I want to get old and look at myself and think, "Nice."
I write about body image because of all those magazines, that show you exactly how you're supposed to look and are always telling you not to eat things, when you're standing in the checkout line at the supermarket, buying stuff to eat.
I write about body image because when I was a little girl, I thought I was gorgeous. I thought that I was gorgeous because I was me.
I write about body image because women are always complimenting each other by saying, "You look like you lost weight!" and because it's so hard to think that what you are is already enough.
I write about body image because I'm not that different from other young women. Actually, I think I'm pretty normal (so disappointing! Why can't I be a famous acrobat or a rock star?). So if I'm thinking about this stuff, I bet other people are, too.
I write about body image because the more I write about body image, the more letters I get from girls and women who tell me how important this topic is. I get letters from women who don't want to go outside because they feel so unattractive and women whose mothers told them they weren't ever going to be pretty enough and women who were told by the world that they weren't worth as much as they actually are, and women who feel fantastic about the way they look and are so relieved. And because the more I write about body image, the better I feel, when I look in the mirror. The better I look to myself. The better I realize I am.
That's why I write about body image.
And also, cake is just delicious. We really shouldn't ever give it up.
Copyright Kate Fridkis