Sunday, June 24, 2012

I Don't Know How I Feel About That--Anonymous

Let me preface this by saying, I have always been quite skinny. I'm 24 years old, and I still sometimes buy shorts in the little girls' section because they're cheaper and more modest. However, I have felt uncomfortable about my body since I realized I had a little bit of a gut in the seventh grade.  As much as I hate to admit it, it bothers me that I don't still weigh 110 lbs. like I did in high school. Basically, I am very critical about my body just like any other girl.

That being said, a friend called me the other day and asked if he could take a few "glamor shots" of me. He said he was working on publishing a book and he, "Thought it would sell better if there was a pretty girl on the cover." Despite the fact that I didn't like the idea of him using me for sex appeal, I admit, I was flattered. He's also a friend, so I figured I'd be supportive and help him out.

I went to his house and did the little photo shoot. Afterwards, I stayed to talk to him and his roommate, and while we were talking, he was editing the photo he had chosen. I just assumed he was cropping out the background and touching up a bit. Eventually, he turned the computer screen and showed me what he had been doing. After a moment, I realized everything about me had been changed at least a little: my jawline, my eyes, my nose, etc. But the worst part for me was realizing he had flattened my stomach to the point that I was half the size I actually am, and my breasts were twice as large as they actually are. My first reaction was just, "Wow."  Then it sank in, the realization that what he had just unknowingly told me was that my body wasn't good enough and it never would be. When he said he wanted a pretty girl, he wasn't talking about me; he just needed an inadequate body in the picture in order to make it "pretty". I managed to sputter out, "I don't know how I feel about that...." I have never felt so degraded, so dirty and gross in my life. I felt downright awful, and that was what made me realize I did know how I felt about that; I didn't like it, I didn't agree with it, and I wouldn't let it be put anywhere where people would be be able to see. I wasn't going to contribute to the idea that girls needed to meet a standard of looks that isn't real or even possible. When I told him I wasn't okay with it, his response was simply, "That's okay, it doesn't have to be you."

I want to share this experience because of what I learned; not because I want people to judge my friend in any way. He is a victim of the media as much as I am. The point is, I've never felt more sympathetic for models and movie stars. I can't imagine being told everyday of my life that I'm not good enough in the way I was just told. I've also learned to love my body a little bit more because I realize now that I never want to look like that; I'm happy with who I am--in fact, I think I look better this way. Along with that, I've learned to respect my body a lot more. I can't say this experience has changed my life--I definitely still feel self-conscious about my body, but it has definitely changed my perspective. I hope some other women can learn something from experience as well.

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