Dear Women of Facebook,
I want you to know that I see you.
I see the re-posts of articles you value, recipes you enjoy and quotes that you love. I smile as I click through your photos of summer vacation with your crazy-cute family, sporting events and day trips to the museum. I read your rants and giggle. Sometimes I find myself nodding in solidarity. Other times I shake my head in wonder at how very different we are. I notice the Snapchat filtered profile pics and sweet, sappy couple photos on your wall. I watch the videos, view your quiz results and see the game invites (JUST SO WE’RE CLEAR I HIDE THOSE – PERMANENTLY). I take in your words and get a glimpse of your world each and every day.
And because you’ve invited me into your life through sharing it on social media,
I’m wondering if I can tell you something.
YOU ARE NOT WORTH MORE IF THERE IS LESS OF YOU.
You see, tucked between the posts of your skilled furniture repurposing and monthly invitations to jewelry and pop-up-pants parties I read your words about “losing three more pounds this week” or “hoping to fit into that goal dress by January.” I see the Instagram re-posts of meals prepped and packed into color-coded food restriction containers. And I pick up on the judgments you make towards your NOW body, laced subtly between the words you write about those FUTURE abs.
Maybe you think that posting about your diet or fitness program will motivate you to stick with it. Maybe you’re hoping to encourage others to jump on the band wagon and earn you some free shakes. Maybe you truly believe that the life you want is waiting for you on the other side of your current weight loss plan, buried below the unwanted pounds you’re carrying.
Or maybe you simply want everyone to know that you’re trying.
Because GOD KNOWS our society is hard on women who aren’t actively attempting to meet its rigid beauty standards. It certainly feels safer in our culture to say “See, look at me I might be fat but I’m trying to be skinny. I’m fixing myself.” Than to say “See look at me I might be fat but I don’t owe you a single explanation or disclaimer.” For those of you who’ve been labeled as “overweight” or “obese” there exists an unspoken expectation that you’re a work in progress. The implication is that to be a “respectable” person living in a bigger body you must constantly prove you’re aware of the “problem” (your size) and do everything you can to fight against it with pills, diets, exercise, surgery and public displays of aversion.
For those of you who are privileged to fall into the “normal” body weight category, your socially understood mission is to maintain thinness at all costs and stay below that arbitrary, capitalism-constructed line that separates “health” from “disease.” So, you snap sweaty gym pics and post photos of leafy green meals. You hashtag your lifestyle (DIET) and document every gym visit.
And it feels so nice, doesn’t it? To tell the world that you’re being “good?” Whether you’re attempting to lose weight or simply trying to avoid gaining it, there’s something validating about updating social media to demonstrate you’ve been making things “right” and doing what is expected of you.
I get it.
There was a time when I Instagram-ed all of my runs complete with details of my distance, time and calories burned – and a sweaty selfie too. I would post about my workouts, update friends on my six pack status and feel pretty proud of my low-cal diet. It felt honorable to be taking control of my body, even if that control was fleeting. I felt powerful for a time. But, then I learned the hard way that diets don’t work long term and weight is not a reliable indicator of health. I learned that self-rejection is too steep a price to pay for social acceptance.
And so when I see you – Women of Facebook – posting about your skirt that’s now two sizes too big or talking about baby weight like it’s an anvil around your waist, I can’t possibly click “LIKE.” I’m not interested in congratulating your diminishing frame. I won’t be one of the many women standing in cyber-line to ask you how you did it. I refuse to be complicit in online body shame and size-ism.
And also – I REALLY DON’T CARE.
I don’t care about your diet or your workout or your new size 4 jeans because there’s too many other, more remarkable things happening in your life. Like:
Your recent travels.
Your son’s first day of school.
Your excellent grad school grades.
Your thriving relationship.
Your artful way with words.
Your new job.
That cute puppy you rescued.
Your grandma’s 100th birthday celebration.
I care about your simple, precious, everyday moments – the ones that your amazing body has carried you through. Despite its “unsightly” cellulite and “extra” 20 pounds.
DEAR WOMEN OF FACEBOOK – I’m not saying that you’re wrong for posting about your weight. I’m not hating on your paleo-approved breakfast. And I’m not asking you to stop.
You do you, girl.
But, as far as I’m concerned –
KNOWING THERE’S LESS OF YOU WILL NEVER CAUSE ME TO THINK MORE OF YOU. AND KNOWING THERE’S MORE WILL NEVER CAUSE ME TO THINK LESS.
YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL, INTRIGUING AND ABSOLUTELY WORTHY OF RESPECT AND LOVE NO MATTER YOUR SIZE – NO MATTER YOUR FOOD OR FITNESS BEHAVIORS.
YOU DON’T OWE ME, OR ANYONE, AN EXPLANATION FOR YOUR BODY.
AND YOU AREN’T REQUIRED TO DOCUMENT YOUR ONGOING COMPLIANCE WITH DIET CULTURE AND BEAUTY IDEALS.
IT’S OK TO LOVE YOURSELF.
IT’S OK TO ACCEPT YOUR BODY.
IT’S OK TO BE A WOMAN WHO IS NOT A WORK IN PROGRESS.