Dutch Blitz has some body image issues. She used to be a size 15 and she still feels unacceptably fat sometimes, though the scale and the tag in her clothes tell her she’s not. I know this because I’ve read her very honest and poignant blogs about her feelings about her body. She wrote a A Letter To My Body about the betrayal girls and women can feel when their bodies defy expectations.
She wrote one called Thinner that I found particularly insightful in regards to empowering daughters.
It does no good to tell a woman “don’t feel this way.” I don’t know why, it’s just not effective. It does no good to tell a daughter, “don’t feel this way.” People get all proprietary about their feelings, like they have a right to them – negative ones and all.
Dutch Blitz knows there is “no good reason” to feel like crap about her very small, very socially acceptable, very healthy, very functional, perfectly-good body. But, she does anyway, 15% of the time.
“I struggle. I wish that I didnt,” Dutch Blitz writes. “I wish that the eighty-five percent became one hundred percent. That I could exude confidence and comfort. That I could stop looking at myself in such a harsh light. I want to be an example to my daughter.Then I think that maybe I am. Maybe, in my insecurity, I can show her that I am human too. That I see all of the pressure that is put onto women. That I, too, succumb to it sometimes.”
The beautiful part about it is that she knows her negative body feelings are illogical and self-defeating and she’s working her way out of it. She acknowledges the impact her poor body image will have on her daughter. But, she also acknowledges that adapting yet another standard of perfection, “how we must feel about ourselves,” isn’t much help to her daughter.
If we tell our daughters “beauty doesn’t matter at all,” they look at all the evidence around them and know that it’s a lie or a delusion. “Don’t have body issues,” isn’t a particularly effective strategy.
Beauty doesn’t matter, beauty shouldn’t matter.
We know that in a million ways it does. Our daughter’s know it too. We’re all susceptible to marketing and we all fall prey to the beauty ideal in some degree in our darkest moments.
To lie about those moments to our daughters will only make us less credible. To claim to be completely oblivious of beauty will backfire because they won’t trust our perception of the world.
Even if we don’t have a particularly negative self-image, we still mutter about someone’s baby that is so cute or whether we think a dress pretty.
They know, whether we acknowledge it or not, that who is pretty is the same as who is popular. By preschool, they are they are assessing who is nice and who they like in terms of who is prettiest.
We don’t live in isolated bubbles. And if we did most of us would opt for one that is pretty.
Beauty matters so much, in fact, that it can affect one’s job performance and their future income. To pretend that it doesn’t, makes our daughters stop trusting us.
We are imperfect and that is OK, appears to be Dutch Blitz’s message to her own daughter.
I think Dutch Blitz is right to believe she’ll have more success with the strategy of honesty.