Larger Than Life

Ever since I was about nine or ten years old, I have had a lot of insecurities with regards to my body. More particularly with my weight. I wasn’t considered “obese” per say, but I was definitely overweight and some of the adults in my life never failed to bring it up every once in a while, thus furthering my insecurity. I have a very distinct memory of being in the fourth grade and sitting on a family friend’s lap at a party and her taking notice of my stomach rolls. It never occurred to me that I was a bit bigger than other kids my age, and it never seemed to be an “issue” until this very point. There even came a time where my parents started pointing it out and any time I saw one of my neighbors, she would comment on my weight. Whether she thought I had lost of gained a few pounds, it didn’t matter, I just didn’t want this personal matter to be discussed at all.

I never resorted to extreme measures such as anorexia or bulimia, but it still affected me in different ways. There have been at least three or four separate instances in which my family has attempted some sort of “diet” or “lifestyle change,” which had instilled in me a need to lose weight. In middle school, my doctor even referred me to a nutritionist. The weird bit is that I’ve always had full confidence in who I am as a person, but I feel like my bodily insecurities have always prevented me from being my optimal self.   

                                                                  Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Sometimes I feel like no matter how I change my eating habits or how often I exercise, my weight will always fluctuate. I feel that this is true with most women and is a common theme I have seen among the women in my own family as well. In an article by Jennifer Van Allen for The Washington Post, she says that “Men tend to have more muscle than women, and because muscle burns more calories than fat, men tend to have a faster metabolism, too — anywhere between 3 to 10 percent higher than women, studies have shown” (Why it really is harder for women to lose weight). According to this and a multitude of other reasons, I was doomed from the start.

                                                                  Photo courtesy of Pixabay

This problem is seen not only in me, but also in so many other women as well. I have friends who also express similar concerns to me about their bodies and their insecurities. Each person has their own thing: they feel like their butt/boobs are too big, or their tummy shows too much when they wear a certain outfit, or they just generally feel like they’re being stared at if they wear clothing that is more form fitting than what society thinks they should be wearing. These types of concerns hinder our confidence when I find all of my friends to be strong, beautiful, and intelligent women. I just don’t understand why the size of our bodies matter outside of health reasons. It is perfectly possible for a person to be living a healthy lifestyle and still be larger because you don’t know where they are in their personal journey or any other external factors, so I feel that judging them based solely on what you see is immoral.

It is seen particularly in the entertainment industry, where overweight people aren’t seen as often on screen, on stage, or on the runway because the production company or talent agency may find that these people don’t fit the typical “look” that they’re going for. In the case of film, television, and theatre, unless a character’s body type is a specific part of who they are at their core, then it shouldn’t matter what the actor’s body shape is. If a person has the talent and discipline to play a character, then why can’t we have a bigger Maria from West Side Story or a bigger Emily Webb from Our Town? Our only options shouldn’t have to be Tracy Turnblad from Hairspray or Martha in Heathers or Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast. Just like any other human being, we are individuals who look and act differently from each other, so sticking us all in the same categories and types would be doing a disservice to the world which never gets to witness the full potential that we carry inside of us. Instead of making people who aren’t a part of the perfect vision of society feel out of place, we should be normalizing their presence in all aspects of our day-to-day lives.

                                                                  Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The children of incoming generations should be raised to know that the value of a person comes from within and not from their external appearances. We should be celebrating our bodies and their differences because they are all beautiful in everything they do, and no one should be made to feel badly about the way that they look. We are all larger than life and deserve everything that is good in the world.