Our bodies, as a whole, can do amazing things. We can run, jump and even dance like maniacs to ridiculous dubstep music that sounds like animals are dying. But for some reason, we choose to pick ourselves apart, focusing on each individual body part as if it somehow is separate from us.
Case in point: I hate my stomach, like, a lot. I used to spend hours in front of the mirror, standing to the side and imagining how much more wonderful my life would be only if I had a flat stomach. I would do endless ab routines to try to get what we ladies lovingly call “the pooch” to disappear. But alas, I realized that my dream of six-pack abs was simply not feasible for me, unless of course I spent all my money on a personal trainer and learned how to cook – sorry, not happening.
But I’m not the only one critiquing my body and picking it apart as if I was performing some sort of surgery. I’ve been constantly nagged for my smaller chest and, yes, size AA bras really do exist.
As a member of a professional dance team and a go-go dancer, I’m constantly reminded to squeeze my boobs together as close as humanly possible to create the illusion of cleavage. Oh, and you know those gel cutlets? I once wore two pairs to a sporting event because I apparently looked like a middle school cheerleader who had yet to reach puberty.
However, my Victoria’s Secret miracle bra that magically adds three cup sizes – I guess the secret is out – is nothing compared to the measures some of my fellow girlfriends and dancers go to in order to enhance their least favorite body parts.
In Atlantic City, where I spend most of my weekends, it’s rare that you’ll run into a dancer who hasn’t had some type of procedure – boob jobs, lip injections, even butt enhancements are common protocol. Because how else are we supposed to get those $20 tips if we’re not meeting Barbie-like standards?
One of my closest dancer friends, who I completely adore, recently had her boobs done, hoping to boost her career and also her confidence. After she recovered, she said she could hardly remember “life before the girls” and swore that before surgery, she was “disproportionate.” Uh, disproportionate according to whom? Pamela Anderson?
Just so we’re clear here, I understand and respect that plastic surgery is a personal decision. If you’re not happy, and you really think going under the knife will provide you some sort of satisfaction, then go for it. But in my experience, nine times out of 10, people choose to alter their body in order to achieve some sort of flawlessness that we as a society invented through our obsession with celebrities and an unrealistic curvy-meets-thin representation of womanhood.
What happened to the concept that bodies come in all shapes and sizes? Since when did we decide that to be considered beautiful, you need thick thighs – but not too thick – a tiny waist, a round butt, big boobs and a flat stomach? How the hell can anyone meet all of these requirements simultaneously? It’s no wonder we all have specific body parts we hate with rules as precise and inflexible as these.
And when it comes to popular culture, we see celebrities for their spectacular body parts rather than their physique as a whole. I don’t know about you, but I’m really sick of hearing about Michelle Obama’s arms, Kim Kardashian’s booty and Olivia Wilde’s abs. Sure, all of these women are incredibly beautiful, but wishing we could combine all their body parts like some sort of paper doll project to create the perfect woman isn’t helping anyone.
Maybe instead of being so focused on what we don’t have, we should start appreciating our body as a whole. I mean, without my little boobs I would never be able to wear a strapless dress without fear of popping out. Oh, and my little stomach, I hear quite often that it’s adorable from guys, who happen to be a lot less judgmental when it comes to our bodies than us ladies are. Sure, my cellulite doesn’t make me want to start celebrating, but hey, it’s part of who I am, and I kind of, sort of, like me.
So next time you’re tempted to do 500 squats to get Beyoncé’s legs, try and remember that your body is pretty freaking incredible the way it is. And, just so you know, working out to get an all-around healthy body image is way more rewarding than checking the mirror every day to see if that one “problem area” has disappeared yet.
Embrace your scrawny legs, your tiny butt, your big feet – whatever the hell you’re spending way too much time hating. They are part of your entirety and make you way more unique than any plastic surgeon could.
Cary Carr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.