Recently, a friend and I tried on dresses in a shared dressing room at Nordstrom.
She pulled a peach cotton sundress over her head and stepped back to examine her reflection in the mirror. She pursed her lips and furrowed her perfectly-manicured eyebrows.
"What is it?" I asked her.
"Ugh," she said with a sigh. "See how the dress poofs over my fat?"
I looked her up and down. I didn't see it. All I saw was my gorgeous friend, looking soft and radiant in a dress that fit her quite nicely.
"I think it looks great!"
Her face fell. "Ech. I hate my thighs."
I thought about this for a minute.
"Well," I told her, "I think you have two options."
"Ha. Atkins or South Beach?"
"Uh, neither," I said. "You can continue worrying about this or you can try not giving a fuck."
She laughed, took the dress off, and slid it back onto its hanger before changing back into her clothes. We headed for the shoe department and changed the subject, but the interaction stayed on my mind for days to follow.
I wondered how this beautiful woman was so blind to her own loveliness, and it made me angry that she was wasting so much emotional energy on her perfectly healthy thighs. It also made me wonder what the HELL is up with women hating their bodies so much.
It really has to stop. Seriously.
The truth is, our bodies do a whole lot for us. They keep our crucial internal organs safe and protected. We use our bodies to give and receive comfort and pleasure. Our strong legs carry us around all day, and our arms hold the people we love. Our bodies are capable of growing and feeding another human being, for God's sake. Considering all this, hating your body seems pretty unfair.
As my friend Blake pointed out over lunch today, like just about everything else, this boils down to capitalism. The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar profit-maker, and self-hating women are its best customers.
But what would happen if, instead of spending money on the latest miracle pills or cream, we just agreed to stop apologizing for our too-muches and our not-enoughs? What if we gave up on the idea that we have to look a particular way in order to be loved? What if we focused less on weight and dress sizes and more on health and happiness?
What if we spent so much time using our bodies to work, play, love and dance that we simply didn't have the time or energy to hate our thighs?