It’s a Warped World When It Comes to Women’s Weight
I’ve been seeing so many Facebook posts lately that have jarred me to the core—because they’ve all demonstrated that when it comes to women’s weight and social expectations, we’re living in a warped world.
Certainly, this isn’t a shocking revelation. We’ve been talking about the role social media plays on our self-image for years. We’ve all seen the before and after retouching photos that remind us what real women’s bodies look like. We’ve subscribed to the motivational body love accounts and sworn to ourselves we’d chant positive mantras when we look in the mirror.
Still, sometimes it feels like we’re fighting a losing cause because it really is a distorted world we live in. It’s a twisted view of women’s weight and ridiculous expectations that are reinforced over and over and over again. No wonder so many of us can’t escape from the demented rabbit hole.
Repeatedly this week, I’ve been seeing evidence that as a society, we have a true problem that we need to address when it comes to the expectations we put on women regarding their weight.
When a woman thinks she has to remain the same size and shape she was at 18 for her entire life—despite fluctuating hormones, life circumstances, stressors, and aging—it’s a warped world.
When a woman thinks her husband has the right to say he doesn’t love her anymore because she’s put on some pounds—and she believes that—it’s a warped world.
When a grown woman finds herself swamped with murderer-level guilt over a cookie, a piece of cake, or an extra glass of wine—it’s a warped world.
When women spend billions of dollars on potions, pills, weird underclothing to suck it in, diets, and exercise machines that look like torture devices—it’s a warped world.
When a woman thinks the number on her jeans determines how worthy she is of unconditional love and support—it’s a warped world.
When a woman walks into a room with her eyes averted and head down because she gained some weight—it’s a warped world.
Changing the Body Image Narrative
All around us, there are signs that we’re not okay, not by a longshot. There are signals that our society has a sickened view of women’s bodies, women’s worth, and women’s expectations.
This is not to say there aren’t pressures put on men. There are absolutely are. But I think one of the problems with this battle women are facing is that many of us believe the lies we’re told to our core. We build our personalities around them and our lives. We believe them, even if we say we don’t. We believe them to the point of cutting carbs and starving our bodies and exercising until we can’t move.
Some of us believe them to the point of never looking in the mirror or covering our bodies in billowy fabrics so a single ounce of fat doesn’t show through. Some of us believe them to the point we stay in relationships with people who tell us we need to lose weight so they can be attracted to us. We believe that we don’t deserve an unconditional love because we have a few extra pounds on us.
That’s the problem, ladies. It isn’t the media or the warped social standards or any of that. Yes, those things make it hard to break the cycle. They plague us and challenge us. They unfairly put ridiculous standards in our heads. That’s not fair at all. Still, at the end of the day, the real problem is that we give into them. We believe them. We don’t fight against them.
If we’re going to create a new view of women’s bodies, of expectations, and of true self-love, we need to fight. We need to stand up to ourselves when we feel that negative thought creeping in about our stomach roll or our thighs. We need to stand in our worth as women and know we are millions of other things besides our weight or physical appearance. We need to know we are worthy because of who we are, not what size we are. We need to start believing it and saying “no” as a collective whole to the dangerous narrative out there—that to be happy, you must be a certain weight.
Yes, we should strive to take care of ourselves, to bless our bodies with healthy foods, and to move our bodies. But this shouldn’t come at a cost of mental sanity or self-love. It shouldn’t be to “earn our keep” in this world or to make others respect us more.
Because there isn’t a weight or an amount of reps that can do that for you. In order to get the respect you deserve—you need to first know you deserve it.
We can do better, all of us. We can remind each other that bodies change, that weight fluctuates, and that we will not be the same weight we were when we were 18—nor should we be. We need to celebrate change in our bodies, in ourselves, and in where we’re going. We need to stop accepting others’ critiques as truth when it comes to how we look. We need to look inward, each of us, to understand that there is a powerful warrior woman in each of us. And we need to start valuing her for who she is, not the size society wants her to be.
L.A. Detwiler is the USA Today Bestselling author of The Widow Next Door and numerous other thriller novels. She is a Communication's Specialist, a former English teacher of ten years, and a dog mom to her Great Dane, Edmund. Visit her on Instagram or Facebook to learn more.
USA TODAY Bestselling Thriller author with Avon Books (HarperCollins), The Widow Next Door, The Diary of a Serial Killer's Daughter, and other creepy thriller books