Sometimes when I don’t want to stay up until eleven (which is always), but I am not quite ready for sleep, I turn on that rare broadcast: the ten o’clock news. Pickings are slim around that time, so I’m stuck with what’s on. Last night when I got in around 10:07 from a concert I flipped to the news. I lasted about 10 minutes before, having seen three indistinguishable blondes who all needed to eat a sandwich, I couldn’t take it anymore and turned it off.
I had higher hopes this morning for a national broadcast, and indeed things were looking up. I mean, how could Charlie Rose make me feel bad about the size of my hips? And then the headline: “Losing weight lowers your risk of breast cancer”.
My suspicion after watching the report is that eating a healthier diet and getting regular exercise are what reduce your risk of breast cancer, and they also happen to result in weight loss. But where’s the fun in that headline? Instead they pile the shame on: Unless you lose some weight, fatty, not only will no one love or respect you or put you on TV, YOU WILL DIE AND IT WILL BE YOUR FAT FAULT!!!
So let’s be honest, ladies (and some gents). No one in the media is looking out for us. Fitness magazines want to sell us sports bras (and increasingly, weight loss drugs). Beauty magazines want to depress us into expensive lip glosses. I’m not sure I’m ready to say that the news industry wants to push the weight watchers ad that’s on just after their reports, although that may be overly optimistic of me. But I think everyone, national news included, has bought into the “let’s make women feel bad about themselves” mindset and language, even without knowing it.
There’s a lot of money to be made in making us hate ourselves, and the culture is so permeated with images that degrade and shame that it can be impossible to overcome. But let me light my little candle, and try to light one for you.
Honey, I want you to eat your vegetables. I want you to work out and be strong and confident and do things you didn’t think you could do. May your digestion be regular and your respiration be easy. May you dress in clothes that make you happy. May you not believe in the ubiquity or superiority of skeletal women with bleached hair.
And may you do it all because your body is a temple, created uniquely out of love and for love.
What pep talk would you give a sister? Or what’s the pep talk you need to hear?