Body image as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a subjective picture of one’s own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting the reactions of others.” In the US (and this may be true of other countries as well BUT I am from the US and can only speak to what I have witnessed both personally, through articles and the media etc.) this usually means that women aspire to have a ‘super model’ body. Only these women should dress in a sexy manner or wear bikinis or show any skin.
Being over weight, even by a few pounds is looked down upon as unacceptable with attributes of disgusting, lazy, and dirty etc. ascribed to them. But what if this was NOT so? What if women of all shapes and sizes were accepted and their bodies seen as beautiful no matter what size they wear?
I arrived in Uruguay in the winter and when summer hit (December through February), I went to the beach and took walks on the boardwalk and quickly noticed women bigger than myself (and I am a ‘curvy girl’) wearing bikinis and shamelessly. When we took the youth to the beach they quickly asked to see what sexy bikini I had brought with me from the US and when I explained to them “in the US, because I am not skinny, it is unacceptable for me to wear a bikini” and they quickly laughed. They told me that I was not overweight, and that I should buy one. Needless to say, I could not bring myself to do it and even after being in Uruguay for almost 2 years, I still wear a t-shirt and capri’s to the beach and stay in them the entire time. This is not to say that if I was not in Uruguay for another year that I would not wear one, but in my time there, that was not something that I was able to overcome (too much brain washing)!!!
As I looked around at the women surrounding me on the beach, I realized I was the ONLY one self-conscious about my body. I didn’t see anyone trying to cover up or change who they were or what their body looked like for the appeasement of others nor did I see anyone “in shape” passing judgment on those who were “over weight” (my US standards); everyone minded their own business and was content with themselves!!
What if we (speaking directly to the mentality and body image projections in the US) were like this? What if we, as adults, wore (without judgment) what we wanted, what we felt comfortable in? What if we were not programmed to think that thin is beautiful and fat is grotesque? These are just some food for thought and I know that everyone will have their own opinion, and that is fine, as each of us has that right but, WHAT IF???