My crusade to inspire plus size women to see themselves differently from the perceptions of other people’s inappropriate attitudes started out in a very small way. The year was 1994. As so often happens with crusades it soon became a passion and grew beyond my wildest dreams.
It came as somewhat a surprise to me to learn that women everywhere found my small publications, e-newsletters and websites, appealing. Something I said struck a chord with them. Because of a number of things such as age, size, shape, weight, even looks, they too had suffered discrimination. This behaviour on the part of other people can have such an influence on our lives, that we begin to believe what we are told. “You’re unacceptable”. People with probably but not necessarily good intentions and people who wanted to exploit us, all gave us the same advice.
You’ve got to lose weight, become more like us, dress like us, do as we do, and even consider cosmetic surgery like us, to be accepted (by us).
The funny thing though is that they are never satisfied with how slim they are, how well they dress, or how they look. If they’re so besotted with looks and slimness that they’ll go overboard in an attempt to achieve the impossible, where does that leave us? Where we are right now - unacceptable in their sight! So why get stuck on the same merry-go-round as they are? And let me say here, it is most definitely NOT a merry-go-round. It’s a never ending battle with ourselves to become someone and something that we are not.
As I “matured” (what a lovely word that is - makes you think of top-of-the-range cheese and the best and most expensive wine!), I realised I’d never fit in with THEIR ideas of perfection. I wasted my time trying to fit in with THEIR perception of who I should be. Their opinion was that I should have no say in the matter and I should conform to THEIR demands without question.
If I met their demands I knew I would lose all my independence and become a puppet never to again have control of my life.
I then had a brilliant flash of revelation. If I didn’t want to conform to THEIR ideals, then why not learn to like and ultimately to accept myself as I am? This meant I was no longer subjected to turning myself inside out trying to please everybody else and never pleasing me!
I’ve seen too many women suffer the stings and barbs of inappropriate words and actions by other people; all based on size and looks. If you wonder why I focus my newsletters and booklets on women then my answer is simple. Because I am a woman I can speak from personal experience. Furthermore it is from speaking with women that I know my experiences are not isolated. More often than not it’s mainly women who are the target of unrelenting persuasion to lose weight; to be as lovely and seductive as the latest model/actress favourite and to look as young as a 20 year old. What is interesting and quite confusing however is to find how many modern men are now being pressured (are they really enjoying it?) into the use of makeup, cosmetics, body beautifying therapies and cosmetic surgery. Will they in time become more beautiful and attain the looks of young women while young women increasingly want to take on the skinny prepubescent young boy look? What is going on?
It’s an unspoken law that men growing older are seen to be attractive while a woman growing older is seen to be worn-out and a has-been. There are inferences and innuendoes that she hasn’t taken care of herself or her body, and therefore she deserves all the criticism thrown at her. The fact that she embodies womanhood through all its stages is lost in the mist of unreality. This unreality is taken to extremes and should be curbed.
Whether you agree with me or not when it comes to disliking our looks, shape and size, men are not our main enemy even though the media would have us believe it. Of course the fashion gurus who happen to be male don’t help the situation one little bit but we already know that. However, based on my personal life-experiences, I’ve come to realise that it is other women who cause us more distress than men. When someone - anyone - makes fun of us or causes us embarrassment based on their disparaging remarks, then we come to think of ourselves as being worthless and too often, we begin to lose whatever self-esteem we may have ever had. It is disturbing to realise our greatest adversaries are women - sometimes staff at boutiques and stores, sometimes our friends, sometimes our neighbours, sometimes even our family who try to convince us that we’re letting the team down and not “conforming”. They seem to delight in tearing us down and scratching out not only our eyes but stripping us bare of any dignity we may have.
Why? Are they so competitive and so unsure of themselves that they have to go out of their way to prove they’re superior to us? Do they hate us so much? If you listen to their arguments you could be forgiven for thinking their dislike of us is well-deserved. We just won’t take their advice and fit in with their plans and demands.
When I first wrote this booklet - Large, but in Charge©, (back in 2005 would you believe?), we did not have what is known as “social media”. Women (and I guess men too) have taken to this media with the greatest of enthusiasm, and I still find it hard to comprehend the depth of belief readers have on what they read on Facebook and others. I admit there is a lot of truth shared via this form of media, but by the same token there is a lot of unsubstantiated truth. People now get away with “tearing” another person’s reputation not to mention their life and their looks and their beliefs. Anger so hot that it represents a form of hatred about other people comes through in the words expressed in many Facebook posts. Many professional women journalists and reporters have deleted their FaceBook and Instagram accounts due to this vitriolic stream of abuse. Good manners and etiquette and politeness appear to have almost disappeared in our society. So it is up to us to deal with it the best way we can and the best we can is to believe in ourselves.
My argument against these people’s dislike is that I have a right to decide what is best for me. I’ve come to realise “attitude” is what it’s all about. You either have a good attitude about yourself, or you don’t. It’s not easy to change years of negative thinking, but it can be done, if you really want it to.
Coupled with attitude I would say both a sense of humour and common sense are also important. Why do we waste time in doing things to our mind and to our body which in the long run won’t work, or won’t last?
Let’s find the inner child within us, and let her grow as she is meant to grow. Into a beautiful, self confident, good natured, well mannered woman. Whether she is clothed in a well-endowed curvy body or whether she is naturally slim and svelte surely shouldn’t matter?
No two women are identical. We’re different. The differences between us should draw us together not tear us apart. We are unique beings, formed by the God of creation. Yes, we’re different but we’re the same. We are sisters.
Our experiences and observations of life can be the difference between having no self-esteem or a healthy and happy life built upon self-confidence.
Maybe our experiences can even impact favourably upon the lives of other women who hear and read our stories.
Copyright © 2005/2023 Rosemary Parry-Brock Davidson
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