Question #195: Is it *all* just for a compliment?

January 1, 2014

The moment after Christmas dinners and lunches were fully consumed, my Facebook page got littered with images like the following:

1514277_10151828881423244_1129663820_nIMG_7301

…from women.

No men indulged me with feelings of having to diet or comment on the weight they had gained over Christmas. Just women.
Then there was the plethora of women friends commenting on said images, also participating in the merry-go-round of the standard, “Oh, I KNOW! I’m exactly the same.” rigmarole – like it’s the secret password for entering an exclusive club.

And it is exclusive – only women seem to want to wholeheartedly enter.
Just listen,  especially around the ‘festive’ season (particularly when they’re around other women) and see how long it takes before kilos / stomach size etc. is mentioned – even for a moment.

It consumes females’ lives. C’mon…we’re smarter than that, aren’t we?
What does one gain from having the ‘perfect’ figure?
My real question is:

Is it all just for a compliment? 

Don’t get me wrong, I like to look unique to me and do my best with what I have and if that receives a compliment – that’s nice! – but it’s not the reason why I dress and groom myself.

There have been moments in my life when my weight has blown out a bit (74 kg being my heaviest) but as I am tall, I have always looked pretty good. This is because I have thin legs and any weight gain went on from my stomach and up – the legs and thighs never changed. To the outsider, my legs camouflaged what was going on up top to a degree. Funnily enough, all I could see was my rounded face when I was at my heaviest – which ironically is what I really notice about people; their faces, not bodies.

How do I know I looked good? Because I was complimented as such – even as so far as being called lucky; lucky for having thin legs.
On an intellectual level – isn’t that ridiculous?
I just want to state for the record that the only luck my legs have given me is their ability to take me from place to place – just like every other able-bodied person on the planet.
That’s it.

Furthermore, ever since being at peace with all my bits – which has been quite a few years now – I’ve noticed that if I ever mention anything about my body (not complaining), I am quickly interjected and shot down with phrases such as, “You have nothing to worry about” or “I WISH I had your figure.”
I have to say that it’s bloody frustrating not really being able to simply discuss changes one notices (and we know that it’s always happening with our complicated but wondrous bodies, ladies) without the obligatory “You’re fine” commentary.
There are parts of me that sag, bulge and roll; I have wrinkles and skin pigmentation on my face; I have dark leg hair which is the bane of my existence to remove (see? not so perfect legs) and I have no butt. Side on, my stomach is about the same size as my bottom – very ‘attractive’…
Etcetera and so on.

We’re women.
We all know our flaws (we’re good at believing what we’re told – that it’s how we think of ourselves) – and we all (yes, ALL) have them, because it’s personal and it’s entrenched.
But this is where I want to say that it is exactly our ‘flaws’ that make us unique and beautiful.

My body has not given me a free pass to anything – I have a mortgage (a 70s house in the western suburbs that I got aged 39; you’d think my body would have let me own a house sooner than that); I have a full-time job, two daughters to raise – who can both be very demanding; and the usual ups and downs of life. I can emphatically claim that my body afforded me no special privilege. Nothing.

The things I have gained in life have come from the person within (who is also flawed, by the way).

So if we are just looking for some verbal validation (from as many people as possible):

Question #196: Is it truly worth all this anxiety and self-hate?

Why not try something different when thinking of New Year’s Resolutions?
Please don’t let it have to do with altering yourself. So you over-indulged over Christmas and New Year; you know what to do to balance it out.

Walk tall, don’t negatively talk about your body and see the beauty in every female body you see – especially yours. Imagine the change, if our daughters saw the beauty on all sorts of shapes and sizes the way YOU do. Don’t judge other women or compare yourself, just cultivate your own temple.
How about we women, collectively, make the New Year’s Resolution to blow these soul-destroying and self-hating beauty standards out the window.

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I have been using a new word to compliment women and it’s not beautiful – it’s radiant.

Happy New Year, radiant ones!
Go forth and SHINE! x

Deep Breath.

PS I’ll leave you with a clip of Aussie ‘plus-sized’ model (which is ridiculous – she’s a goddess), Robyn Lawley. Forget what she looks like and just listen to her words. Soak them in.

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2 Responses to “Question #195: Is it *all* just for a compliment?”

  1. Derek said

    Paula,
    I thought I was a fairly average example of a Gen X male.
    I was a sports playing, rum drinking lad with a decent education and raised by a family with good, open minded morals.

    I’ve had many partners over the years, each of them bearing completely different physical characteristics.
    They’ve been tall , petite, skinny, athletic, curvy with auburn, blonde and brunette hair. They’ve had Scandinavian, Celtic, Arabic, Hispanic and Indian backgrounds and I have never expected a girl to fit some fashion industry magazines’ hyped ideas of physical beauty.

    I’ll readily admit that I’d never date a morbidly obese woman or even someone who was heavily overweight no matter how attractive her personality or appealing her intelligence. The reality being that I’ll never be attracted to a grossly overweight woman and I don’t feel that I have anything to be ashamed or concerned of because of this.

    From what I’ve observed over the years women seem to be unduly influenced by the artificial standards promoted by the entertainment and fashion industries in the various medias. My male friends seem to have similar expectations to me regarding women’s attractiveness.

    We read lads mags filled with articles about adventurous trips, alcohol, technology, car & bike reviews. There are few fashion articles and fitness articles revolve around achieving a healthy & fit body not a body that is visually appealing to others.

    The best way we can help our daughters to have a healthy and realistic view of their bodies is to teach them to ignore artificial standards shown in “beauty mags” and question what they are reading and watching, to realize the agenda being pushed by the beauty and fashion industries. Women who believe they are unattractive and uncool will keep buying their products.

    • questionsforwomen said

      Thanks Derek! Yes, this one is a curly one because women are the WORST at participating in the machine. I know I have.
      Women’s mags are toxic and confusing in the messages they send out to women and girls – stories of how sad it is to be anorexic on one page, followed by the exercises to get rid of your tummy, to fashion spreads with women who look like human coat hangers (which is what they’re meant to be, actually).
      One thing in your comment though, is that although some lads’ mags may have all those great articles in them, the majority that are read by boys and men are draped in hyper-sexualised images of women.
      It’s interesting, isn’t it? How different women are perceived by each gender. Both pretty crappy, hey?
      Thanks for your comment, Derek. 🙂

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