Like every other teenager, I was up at night, surfing through the internet. To be more specific, I was reading the news feed on facebook. I came across a post. The post was on HONY, Humans Of New York, a page who’s administrator is Brandon, a chartered accountant turned street-photographer, capturing simple people on camera and telling a small story of them. Yesterday, instead of posting the photo he had clicked, he posted a photo she had mentioned (which was on Tumblr- a half-naked self-portrait of a young New York University student, Stella, who has overcome the failed attempts of people to crush her. She flaunted her curves and was unapologetic of how others judged it. The photo was accompanied with an unsatutory warning as follows-
“WARNING: Picture might be considered obscene because subject is not thin. And we all know that only skinny people can show their stomachs and celebrate themselves. Well I’m not going to stand for that. This is my body. Not yours. MINE. Meaning the choices I make about it, are none of your business. Meaning- my size, IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
If my big belly and fat arms and stretch marks and thick thighs offend you, then that’s okay. I’m not going to hide my body and my being to benefit your delicate sensitivities.
This picture is for the strange man at my nanny’s church who told me my belly was too big when I was five. This picture is for my horseback riding trainer telling me I was too fat when I was nine. This picture is for the girl from summer camp who told me I’d be really pretty if I just lost a few pounds. This picture is for all the fucking stupid advertising agents who are selling us cream to get rid of our stretch marks, a perfectly normal thing most people have (I got mine during puberty). This picture is for the boy at the party who told me I looked like a beached whale. This picture is for Emily from middle school, who bullied me incessantly, made mocking videos about me, sent me nasty emails, and called me “lard”. She made me feel like I didn’t deserve to exist. Just because I happened to be bigger than her. I was 12. And she continued to bully me via social media into high school.
MOST OF ALL, this picture is for me. For the girl who hated her body so much she took extreme measures to try to change it. Who cried for hours over the fact she would never be thin. Who was teased and tormented and hurt just for being who she was. I’m so over that. THIS IS MY BODY, DEAL WITH IT.”
It was plausible to see that so many people appreciated the picture (1,904,976 likes when I checked). There were thousands of comments- most of them cheering her and appreciating the fact that she overcame this strong pressure, some concerned about her health, and some male cows calling her names for being a normal beautiful person (I do not call them bulls, because there masculinity ended right when they commented.). I was happy that among these millions of people, there were strong, confident, and happy people, scarred- but not for life, building their self esteem, realizing their self worth, and learning self appraisal.
So I read some of her blog posts. She suffers from PCOS i.e. polycystic ovarian syndrome, which has led to her being overweight, since she was a little girl. Bullied by some, snubbed by others, looked down upon, this girl blogs to help others realize that they are beautiful and complete, just as they are. She is trying to lose weight, and remain healthy (with the imbalanced hormones, so it is pretty hard). I believe the reason behind flaunting herself is to urge others to come out of their closets and be happy and comfortable, because hiding deteriorates your…everything.
But the comments everywhere were astonishingly cruel.
“FAT IS UNHEALTHY AND IT WILL NEVER BE CELEBRATED AS THE HEALTH AND WELLNESS INDUSTRIES CONTINUE TO BURN FAT LIKE THE UNUSED KINDLING THAT IT IS. ALL OF THESE FATTIES NEED TO GO ON A DIET AND GET THE BODY THEY REALLY WANT. NO ONE WANTS TO BE GROSS LIKE THIS FAT COLLEGE STUDENT IS. THAT’S WHAT I CALL THE FRESHMEN FIFTEEN.” (it was in capitals)
“Here is why people are fat. They have no self control. Alcoholics believe they have a disease and so do fatties…it’s just an excuse…and saying metabolism has anything to do with weight loss is lying to themselves and making excuses for others. I have very very slow metabolism and I’m not fat. Why you ask? Because I don’t sit inactive all day, eating portions that could feed a family of four in one sitting. Eat less exercise more= no more fattie”
“Yes, apparently disgusting fat bodies are the new normal. Gross. These women will make up any excuse to cover their fatness. “Oh, I have a disease, I was abused as a child, I’m a goddess and I accept what I am”. What a bunch of crap. Get off the couch, put down the Twinkies, and get into a gym. Stop making excuses. Oh, and you are NOT a goddess. There’s actually no such thing. You are not fabulous or beautiful. Lose some weight fattie.”
“Is grotesque the new normal? Honestly if she were an animal at a factory farm she would be well past market weight.”
“I know that people can’t help being ugly, but they can stay out of sight.”
People are rude, apathetic and selfish. Everybody is. But this is preposterous. I will again blame the projection by these product sellers. It is the mass media that conform us like blind sheep, making us believe that skinny is THE thing to be, that it is “uncool” if you have a body different from “normal”. Not every woman is Venus and not every man is Adonis. This beauty standard is set in minds because of an unfeeling and highly apathetic group of people, who act and claim like they care for common people(potential costumers), but actually sell their products like movies, magazines, cosmetics, magazines, apparel by demoralising them. Sure, some might condemn this act of blogging about one’s own body and the sad things that happened to them as self victimisation and self promotion, but there are many who get inspired by the same act and who lean a bit more towards loving themselves.
Everybody is comfortable exactly the way they are when they are born. As they grow up and are affected by the social standards, there are changes, defining the wrong and the right- to be more specific, the acceptable and the unacceptable. And factors like media and opinion of others around them (also profoundly affected by media). And this makes them judging and makes them think that only one thing is right. I agree that loving oneself for what they are is philosophical and that living in denial that one is unhealthy is unhealthy, but shattering the confidence that one has worked so hard at, has stood unwavering, is no one’s right.
Anybody who calls others different from them, in what they perceive as a lower than themselves, must know, that (going strictly by physical appearance) the flawless skin, toned muscles, pretty features shall all fade away. And it will crush you. Because you will not have the confidence to deal with yourself, because you have never really believed in anything but what was taught to you by people who lack humanity.