Everyone -- even Beyonce -- has those days when you look in the mirror and think, "Really? Really?" On "Pretty Hurts," the Queen Bey herself admits that sometimes it's even hard to look like, well, Beyonce.
You know what else hurts? Looking in the mirror and projecting an unrealistic, unhealthy, heavily Photoshopped and oftentimes starved and usually completely unattainable perception of someone else's body onto your own. And then doing that countless times a day.
There are so many more important things to fill your body, mind and soul with than spending time worrying about thigh gaps and back fat, whatever that is. (Have you seen Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" video? The new song Bruno Mars is on? "TOO MANY COOKS"!??)
So, why am I reminding of you that? Well, for one, we all need constant reminding because we're human, right, and we're subjected to thousands of images of women per day. And we're consuming images of women whom most of us don't look anything like (though kudos to you if you do!). And then, because our brains have a habit of saying, "Hey, life looks better if you're smaller/ blonder/ curvier/ skinnier, etc" (myths!), we start to feel bad about ourselves. But I'm also reminding you about body image because it's the topic of the second episode of MTV's "Braless."
Last week I introduced you to "Braless," a new YouTube series from MTV and sex educator Laci Green. The show looks at pop culture through an empowering feminist perspective. (For the premiere episode, Laci broke down Taylor Swift's feminist awakening.) And this week, Laci's talking about body image, self esteem and clothing size, and the terrible predatory relationship all three can have. (Especially if you're got more bass than treble.)
Yo, we've all been there -- squeezing into pants that kiiiiiinda fit... as long as you don't sit. Not finding anything in the store that fits right. (Seriously. In the entire damn store.) Sucking whatever you need to suck in and wishing you didn't have to suck in at all.
Leaving the store dejected, empty-handed, and basically feeling like crap about yourself, saying the kinds of terrible things in your head that you'd never in a million years let another person say to you. (At least I hope you wouldn't. And if you have friends who make you feel like sh--, please do yourself a favor and delete their numbers right now. I'll wait.)
Clothing sizes are horrible. The absolute utter worst. They're an arbitrary illogicality. A joke created by the illuminati or some nefarious mind-control element.
So, what to do when you're hating on your dress size? First, pay attention to style: I love to follow plus-size style bloggers like the beautiful Gabi Fresh and Nicolette Mason and Honor Curves on Instagram, who are gorgeous, stylish women who celebrate body diversity and are helping change the dialogue about beauty by demonstrating that beauty isn't just one size (or a single digit). (Related side note: This Special K size-less jeans commercial basically brings me to tears every time I watch it.)
Second, stop paying attention to your clothing sizes and start paying attention to clothing you like, regardless of if it's a different size than what you usually wear. How you feel in clothes versus how many inches away you are from the next smaller pants size. What you like about yourself instead of what you want to change about yourself.
Finally, find a mantra that works for you. (Am I losing you with the hippie stuff? Stay with me! ::Puts down homemade flax seed wrap:: Just kidding.) It's anything but easy, but the times when I look in the mirror and feel more "Why Don't You Love Me"/"Pretty Hurts" than "Flawless"/"Freakum Dress" and start to do the whole why-does-my-hair-do-that/ why-can't-my-chin-be-less-that-way, etc etc, negative, time-wasting blah blah blah self-talk, I have a mirror mantra that I like to repeat to myself. It goes like this:
It doesn't work all the time, but surprisingly it does the job some of the time. And you know what works none of the time? Beating myself up.
So, after she shot this week's video, Laci and I had a great talk about the conflict between body positivity and clothing sizes, as well as the perceptions, myths and realities surrounding the images women are shown in pop culture and how we deal with that and how it affects how we feel about our bodies. Here's what she had to say:
"I’d be lying if I said I always had a perfect coping mechanism because I don’t. And I think that everyone who lives in this society and this culture has bad days when no amount of positive mantras or you know rational, logic or self-love can get me out of that sometimes.
But I’ve gotten so much better at it.
When I was younger, my body was changing so much, and it felt like people are so concerned about their own bodies that the only way they can deal with their fear is to project and care about everyone else. So I feel like it was a really toxic environment when I was in high school. Being out of that has helped a lot. So a lot of what works for me is just being older.
But I also think kind of taking a step back and understanding exactly why I feel the way I do, so the types of imagery that influence me and understanding the pressure for me to feel like I need to be sexy all the time was a big one for me, and realizing that I as a human being do not exist on this planet to look for good for people.
There’s so much more depth to human beings than how they look. It’s really just such a superficial thing, and it doesn’t do much at all for the world, for each other, for anything.
Like you said: F-ck perfect. You don’t need to be perfect, and people are not defined by how they look. People’s character, their contribution to the world, their humor, their skills, are all things so much more important."
Need more motivation to like what you see when you look in the mirror? Check out more of Laci's mirror mantras:
Print them out and put them on your mirrors. Hopefully, over time, you'll find yourself looking back at your reflection and saying: