The Marilyn Meme

I’m fat. I’ve wrote several times about how ‘this time’ I’m going to do it, ‘this time’ I’m going to lose weight dagnamit! I’ve not been happy with the way I look for a long time. Basically, I’m every woman I’ve ever met. Because even if you’re not overweight, there’s a little troll sitting on the shoulder of every woman who tells you you’re not perfect the way you are. Too fat, thin, tall, short. Your nose is crooked, your legs are stumpy. Sound familiar? Some lucky women can ignore that little bugger, but we’ve all felt the troll’s influence from time to time. The only person that hurts is you, right?

There’s an awakening right now on the internet, women all over Instagram and YouTube who celebrate themselves and encourage that same love in their readers. If When I feel crap about myself, I jump across to these websites and read their heartening words, mottos and hard won truths and I start to feel pretty damn comfortable in the skin I’m in. It doesn’t stop the urge to be fitter, an urge I’m taking control of and positively acting on, but it comes now from a feeling of loving my body and protecting my greatest asset, not of loathing the skin I’m in. It is a combination of mind and body, accepting my strengths and weaknesses and moving forward with my life.

Part of that is a greater acceptance of other women and their differences. No longer do I judge on how I see their weight. I can not abide the way I used to instantly view women as ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’. I wasn’t supposed to do that. I thought I was better than that. Growing up, I was very close to my cousin’s girlfriend – a girl who even to this day has to justify her small frame to complete strangers. It made my blood boil every time she had to say ‘I eat like a horse, honest’. How dare people feel it’s appropriate to question the eating habits of someone else?

And yet, I’ve done it too. Keira Knightly was ‘obviously’ anorexic. Cheryl Cole looked better with ‘meat on her bones’. Two complete strangers I judged and thought it didn’t matter because it wasn’t as if they knew that’s what I thought. Big NO. It may not have affected them, although with the amount of articles dedicated to the weight of the rich and famous, it would be remiss of me to assume they aren’t affected by how the public see them – but it did affect me. Which, to be completely and unashamedly selfish about, is my main concern. Me. My biting comments and unfair assumptions made me a cold and hard person, and I’ve decided I’m not down with that. I want to grow into a nurturing and open person, and it’s a difficult admission that I wasn’t the nice person I always thought I was. Live and let live has always been my motto, being a staunch supporter of LGBT, disability and religious rights, but I didn’t see the pile of unfairly treated women growing in my brain.

Whenever I seen a picture saying ‘curvy is better’ or ‘what man wants a lollipop’ floating around, I reposted it, on my high horse like YES! CURVY IS BETTER SO THERE. You’ve all seen a picture of Marilyn Monroe V random ‘skinny’ celebrity. On one hand its great women find Marilyn’s figure empowering and want to celebrate their own bodies, but why does it have to come at the cost of another women’s figure? Why does it have to be versus? Women against women? Why can’t we enjoy Marilyn’s iconography as well as the celebrity she is pitted against, the ‘skinny’ subject to ridicule and judgement by women who want to validate their lifestyle choices?

I say iconography deliberately. Marilyn Monroe’s life is a sad story, and when women see her, they want to look like her, but they never want to be her. I think Marilyn would be saddened that even in death, she is viewed as a figure, a sexy body – and not as the woman she was. Men have viewed her as a sex symbol for years, and now women are using her image to put down a fellow human being. When you think about it like that, isn’t it a little shameful? I know I feel ashamed. Not only for using Marilyn the way she always was, as an object, but for unfairly dismissing the still nameless celebrity as a figure of ridicule to make me feel better about my own shortcomings.

I’m not saying changing my viewpoint was easy. Even today, practise and history has conditioned my mind to jump to judgement. But knowing I’m taking an active step to stop seeing other women as the enemy helps. I suppose the moral of the story is; image matters. It’d be fake to say it doesn’t. How much it matters is up to you, but when you look at images of other women to further your own prejudices, that image mirrors the ugliest thing about you. Those images are women, not icons. With feelings, dreams, hopes, strengths, as well as weaknesses and flaws. And I’m done pretending it’s ok to objectify them by saying they’re beautiful or imperfect, because it’s all negative. Beautifully imperfect, and altogether human – women are awesome at any size.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s