When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies

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  • SrJoben
    SrJoben Posts: 484 Member
    I was recently reading When Women Stop Hating their bodies, and as the title suggests, it's about how weight obsession is taught to women to distract them from actually important things, and to create a sense of inferiority in them. Weight obsession is also one of the first ways women learn to not trust themselves, by believing that they don't even when they're hungry enough to eat and full enough to stop.

    I know all this to be true, but I also know I really hated being fat and I loved losing weight! It's hard and sometimes I do want to stop obsessing, but then other times it doesn't seem like thinking about my weight is a big a problem for me. I go back and forth on weight loss so often that even though I'll talk about how I lost weight, when my friends do I urge them that their weight doesn't define them and they shouldn't worry about it!

    Anyone else have a back and forth though process like this? Ever wonder how important any of this actually is??

    Link to the book here:
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/439907.When_Women_Stop_Hating_Their_Bodies?from_search=true

    Emphasis on the bold part there ... um, pretty sure no one ever intentionally tried to get me to hate my body to distract me from "more important things". Maybe it's just because I grew up in a progressive family, and I lived in a rather "progressive/liberal" part of the country growing up (New England) but that was not happening in any way, shape or form. I'd be interested in where on earth the author got the idea that women hating their bodies was in any way overtly "encouraged".

    Edit to add: I very well may be completely missing the point or it going over my head. If so, then please, let me know. It wouldn't be the first time today I've been totally dense

    It's not necessarily something that's intentionally taught to women by individuals. It's more concepts that are perpetrated by society, particularly the media.

    disclaimer: I haven't read the book

    Well of course. Since we can't actually find any men or organizations doing this we have to ascribe it to a shadowy undetectable force. It's like The God Of The Gaps applied to sociology; All alleged problems experienced by women that have no identifiable explanation by default get blamed on our "Patriarchal Society."


    I don't think anyone can deny that men are also exposed to images and concepts about how we are supposed to be: Slim, tall, muscular, six-pack abs, handsome, more hair than most of us have past 40, tough, don't cry, rich, etc etc. So are we saying essentially the same social pressure to conform to an ideal affects women more?
  • PatheticNoetic
    PatheticNoetic Posts: 905 Member
    I'm obviously not speaking for ALL women on the planet. I'm just commenting on how sometimes it is difficult for me to differentiate between being told to be thin vs wanting to be thin. Some women don't have issues, a lot do, and it's not an inherent weakness on their behalf.

    I understand where you are coming from. I feel like I'm in that swamp of confusion myself. Until I understand what I'm doing better I'm just going to go with the whole being fit thing. If anything maybe I can be a good example to my daughter about being responsible for taking care of yourself. But even that's a fine line. Am I teaching her that self worth only comes from being skinny? Or ... ugh... its too early to sort this out.
  • citizenpioneer
    citizenpioneer Posts: 37 Member
    We both have pressures, but misogyny leads to self-harm, harm from the outside (in the form of rape and other abuse), economic inequality, political inequality, and even inequality in the healthcare realm. The pressure for men to be strong is a pressure, but not one that defines whether or not you can walk down the street safely, or eat comfortably, or whether or not you get a job. Misogyny has a long and varied and violent history, whereas misandry is less so because men are the ones in power deciding who are the haves and the have nots.

    Even in this thread you can see that not one woman can say one thing about her condition without being questioned, or belittled. I'm talking about a woman-specific issue, and yet there still seem to be men chiming in trying to disprove how I feel.
  • PatheticNoetic
    PatheticNoetic Posts: 905 Member
    He he..

    If men want to make choices about how women look after themselves then women should be the ones telling infantry soldiers how to do their job.

    Sorry... that just ticked through my head and made me chuckle. And I felt like sharing it.
  • VelcroButt
    VelcroButt Posts: 34 Member
    Patriarchy absolutely puts pressure on men, but the pressure tends to be less focused on appearance.
  • SLLRunner
    SLLRunner Posts: 12,943 Member
    I'd be interested in where on earth the author got the idea that women hating their bodies was in any way overtly "encouraged".

    Barbie. She's been setting an unrealistic goals for girls for decades.
    The media and press as well. Back in the sixties and seventies when I was growing up, we all wanted to look like the cold stars of our day because they seemed to have perfect lives. Today it's worse.

    My mother tried to teach me to love my body no matter what, and my dad hated fat females so he taught m e to hate my body because I was fat. Talk about being a fat kid with an I inferiority complex.
  • tempehforever
    tempehforever Posts: 183 Member
    Patriarchy absolutely puts pressure on men, but the pressure tends to be less focused on appearance.

    Yep!

    Something I think that often goes missed in these discussions is that patriarchal society hurts both women AND men, just in different ways. When we criticize that society, we're not trying to punish or hate on men--we want men to have more choices and fewer culturally-enforced restrictions, too.
  • VelcroButt
    VelcroButt Posts: 34 Member
    Patriarchy absolutely puts pressure on men, but the pressure tends to be less focused on appearance.

    Yep!

    Something I think that often goes missed in these discussions is that patriarchal society hurts both women AND men, just in different ways. When we criticize that society, we're not trying to punish or hate on men--we want men to have more choices and fewer culturally-enforced restrictions, too.

    Yes I wish more people understood this. Patriarchy isn't something that men perpetrate against women. Society as a whole participates in it and it hurts everybody.
  • citizenpioneer
    citizenpioneer Posts: 37 Member
    Anyway, I was trying to get women to discuss conflicting feelings about weight loss here, not get into political/sociological/anthropological discussion on women/men/society.

    Recognizing my feelings and how I'm treated by the world I live in is not an inherent attack on all men, or even men per se, so I'm not sure why some guys are coming here and trying to turn this into a discussion about me being whiny and anti-man.

    To those dudes I say: I'm going to have an opinion here on the internet, in this public forum, and you don't necessarily have to say anything in it, whether or not you agree. I just wanted to see how other women feel. Don't take my opinion and my willingness to post it as a personal attack.
  • meshashesha2012
    meshashesha2012 Posts: 8,344 Member
    TL;DR. Let's inject a little manly common sense in to this. Why not stop reading "beauty" magazines, watching Bravo, and worrying what your catty friends think?

    this.

    i'm a woman and have been all my life, hell i'm a black woman, i'm even supposedly less valued. my friends and i never wasted time whining about the the *kitten* we werent entitled to (sorry but that's what a lot of women whining about beauty standards sounds like TO ME) and just got out there and worked for the stuff we wanted.

    people aren't required to think you're the most beautiful person in the world or that you're beautiful at all. just believe it yourself and get your *kitten* done. it's called SELF esteem for a reason
  • tempehforever
    tempehforever Posts: 183 Member
    Anyway, I was trying to get women to discuss conflicting feelings about weight loss here, not get into political/sociological/anthropological discussion on women/men/society.

    Recognizing my feelings and how I'm treated by the world I live in is not an inherent attack on all men, or even men per se, so I'm not sure why some guys are coming here and trying to turn this into a discussion about me being whiny and anti-man.

    To those dudes I say: I'm going to have an opinion here on the internet, in this public forum, and you don't necessarily have to say anything in it, whether or not you agree. I just wanted to see how other women feel. Don't take my opinion and my willingness to post it as a personal attack.

    You seem cool. :) I like you.
  • SezxyStef
    SezxyStef Posts: 15,270 Member
    Maybe I grew up in a progressive family as well...to be quite frank I have never hated my body...I have high self esteem (maybe too high) so confidence has never been my issue...

    I had barbies but never "dreamed" of looking like her...

    My mom "dieted" I could never figur out why she looked amazing at 30 after having 5 kids.

    I grew up in the same society as all the other woman here ( in my age group that being 40 something)

    As a matter of fact I was told I needed to lose weight to find a decent looking man...I didn't diet...I met the hottest young fella (he's 9 years younger than me) who fell hard and we were married in under a year...he's not fat...see ticker...he's hot and loves me regardless of my size...

    So why did I lose weight cause I wanted to...my knees hurt, my hip hurt, I was weak and couldn't do stuff I wanted to do...screw that.

    Society doesn't dictate how you feel unless you let it and a book blaming everything but the reader for their issues is a slap in the face to all of those like me who grew up in the same society and don't have those "issues".

    Eh, I also grew up without "issues," and have a hard time relating to women who have body image problems. That said, I don't think I'm better or tougher than they are because I didn't succumb to a lot of society's bull****. Different people are different, and grew up in different environments than I did--I'm not going to judge them for having issues I'm lucky to have escaped or pretend that major cultural problems aren't real just because they didn't affect me.

    This exactly. It's wonderful that you haven't suffered from any of these issues but it's nothing to feel superior about. That's like feeling superior to someone with clinical depression because you haven't experienced it yourself.

    Don't assume I feel superior to anyone...I don't...

    But this is what I am talking about...women who assume because I don't blame society for the woes of woman I feel superior....I stand by my statement...

    Society doesn't make you feel anyway you don't let them...and those "issues" are real but it's not society that is to blame....

    I lived in a house where a woman dieted my entire life, where my own sister told me I "had" to lose weight to find a decent looking man...ah hello...but I chose not to let it hurt my self worth...how is that feeling "superior" or judging in anyway?

    And to be frank it is this sort of "discussion" that allows women to wallow, "It's not your fault you feel bad about yourself.....evil society did it to you...don't you worry it's not you...it's everyone else that is to blame"....I don't get it..stand up be strong and give yourself the self worth don't wait for someone else to do it. And to top it all off by doing that you are raising daughters and sons with more self worth, self confidence and self esteem..

    And to top it all off if this is a "major" cultural issue then why isn't Ken being addressed, why aren't Calvin Klein Underware models being addressed...where is that side of it??? Oh right it's only women who are repressed and "made" feel bad because of their bodies...*rolls eyes*

    You ladies are more then welcome to feel the way you do...but that's on you it's your feelings, you choose them...it's like the saying says..."You can't control others just how YOU react" or "you teach people how to treat you"
  • callyart
    callyart Posts: 209
    The weight loss is a bonus for me, but generally its me *feeling* healthier that has made me happier. Having more energy to do things, not feeling ill if I walk a long way, etc.

    Although I am one of those women that don't let the media tell me what to do - I am just going with the flow of getting healthy!
  • citizenpioneer
    citizenpioneer Posts: 37 Member
    Holy crap, people are vicious on this site. Don't tell me to shut my mouth and ignore an actual problem. I'm not sitting at home crying about it, but it does create an inferiority complex in a lot of people and I was really curious as to what women here thought.

    I won't post here again, too annoying.
  • VelcroButt
    VelcroButt Posts: 34 Member
    Holy crap, people are vicious on this site. Don't tell me to shut my mouth and ignore an actual problem. I'm not sitting at home crying about it, but it does create an inferiority complex in a lot of people and I was really curious as to what women here thought.

    I won't post here again, too annoying.

    Yeah a lot of people here seem to be contrarians just for the sake of being contrarians. Maybe we're all hungry and grumpy? lol
  • aNewYear123
    aNewYear123 Posts: 292 Member
    I used to love my barbies, but never wanted to look like her, of course I didn't want to look like raggedy ann either.

    You shouldn't hate your body, but being overweight, not just a couple of pounds, is not healthy. Encouraging others in their weight loss efforts, even younger girls, is good if they need to do it for health reasons. The problem is, especially for younger girls, it is hard to separate losing weight to be healthy verses losing weight to look better.
  • The pressure on women dates back to the dawn of civilization. You know those symbols for man and woman? You know, the circle with the arrow and the circle with the cross? They represent Mars and Venus. The male symbol is a shield and a spear as men are hunters, killers, providers, warriors. The symbol for the woman? Venus' hand mirror. All a woman had to do was be pretty!!! Sadly, I do not think the pressure will change as women often achieve as much as men but their status does not make them "sexy." Bill Clinton was a sex symbol for some in the 90's and engaged in indiscretions with young interns, while Hilary, arguably one of the most powerful American women and almost and a potential president, is FAR from attractive to most. (She is often accused of being a lesbian, etc...) Until men are not valued for their assets and ability to provide financially, it will not change. Overall, a man of means desires an attractive and fit female, another status symbol. Now I know that is a generalization but how many billionaires do you see with heavy women? I happen to LOVE curves but feel bad for the lack of confidence many curvy women have.


    Read an article by Jennifer Coleman titles "Discrimination at Large." She addresses weight along with almost EVERY other body issue women have and have had and most likely will continue to have.
  • Stripeness
    Stripeness Posts: 511 Member
    TL;DR. Let's inject a little manly common sense in to this. Why not stop reading "beauty" magazines, watching Bravo, and worrying what your catty friends think?

    this.

    i'm a woman and have been all my life, hell i'm a black woman, i'm even supposedly less valued. my friends and i never wasted time whining about the the *kitten* we werent entitled to (sorry but that's what a lot of women whining about beauty standards sounds like TO ME) and just got out there and worked for the stuff we wanted.

    people aren't required to think you're the most beautiful person in the world or that you're beautiful at all. just believe it yourself and get your *kitten* done. it's called SELF esteem for a reason

    This.

    That said, the responses are following a pattern often seen when someone mentions finally recognizing an issue that stems from their childhood. Essentially "yeah, but you're an adult now" or "I had those circumstances too, and yet no ill effects from it."

    So, while I personally prefer the manly approach (raising a glass of single malt to that commenter), I'd like to suggest a little tolerance for different experiences. Some people have trouble with stuff that didn't even register as a blip on your personal radar.

    Sometimes people don't realize what's been going on until 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-something (or later!). Having that realization and saying it doesn't mean they're wallowing. Now, if they stop there & use it as an excuse over time...that's wallowing. No reason we can't let someone name their demon and encourage them in taming or disposing of it.

    Okay, that's as much of a chickflick moment as I can take for now. Having an urge to go fire up the barbeque and grunt approvingly while some sizable piece of cow sears. I leave you with something said about Katharine Hepburn:
    "She was a model woman, not beholden to any social construct of what a woman should be."

    ETA: while I agree w/Mesha wholeheartedly, I'm *not* a black woman - mine was a diff kind of minority experience. Clarifying so as not to appear claiming something I'm not!