Dear Women of My Generation, You Disappoint Me

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My female friends, my sisters, the women I work with. They’re all at it.

I can’t start a conversation with any of them without it inevitably veering into weird body shaming territory.

Last week I was trying to persuade a friend to come to the gym with me.

“It’d be fun. It’s a really gentle class – just some stretching and bodyweight stuff.”

“No way,” she said. “I haven’t squeezed into gym gear in about a year. That’s why I’m so fat. I’m a pig.”

A few days after that, it was my sister-in-law.

“Fancy going for a swim?” I asked her, one beautiful sunny morning.

“Ugh. No. I can’t find a swimsuit big enough. I’ll look like a whale.”

No amount of cajoling would work. They were already deep down the body-hating rabbit hole and had shut their ears to everything but that toxic inner voice.

We’re all women of a certain age (in our thirties…ahem), with a good education, a loving upbringing, a stable home life, professional careers and yet some of us can’t stop talking to ourselves like vicious, snarky children.

It’s especially frustrating to me because I’ve worked so hard to quiet that voice in my own head. It held full reign over my emotions from puberty until my mid-twenties and I’m determined not to let it get a foothold again.

But that’s why this trend is so dangerous. Body-shaming begets more body-shaming. Anyone who’s ever been a teenage girl can tell you that it takes about a minute for one innocent comment: “Oooh, that cake looks good” to degenerate into a competition over who has the fattest thighs.

It’s a train to crazy town and everyone gets pulled onboard.

And so this is an open letter to my friends (especially the ones who are mothers of little girls), my family and pretty much every women I know: please cut it out. That might not sound very sensitive but it really is that simple. The best way to stop that negative talk is to stop talking negatively.

I don’t want to hear it and your fragile self-image definitely doesn’t want to hear it.

so ignore all this talk of 'beach bodies' and just go to the damn beach already!

so ignore all this talk of ‘beach bodies’ and just go to the damn beach already!

Weigh in: Do your friends/family ‘fat talk’? Does it bother you? How do you respond when a friend makes a negative comment about herself?



16 thoughts on “Dear Women of My Generation, You Disappoint Me

  1. I’m definitely guilty of engaging in this too and have made a huge effort to stop. It’s funny because it almost became a way for me and my friends to bond? Kind of sick. I have noticed it getting worse in recent times especially with all the “fitspo” you see everywhere and all the ways people edit their pictures now. It makes it seem like everyone has a body like that and you should too. And that’s just not the case. Love this post!

    • Completely agree. It is a weird bonding thing nowadays. Get more than two of my friends in a group and they start almost immediately comparing their figures. When I refuse to join in, they think I’m the strange one! Hopefully if we all keep shutting down that talk, the message will get through…

  2. Thanks for this. My sisters and I all grew up in a negative-body-image environment, and it has taken a long time for me to shake it. We really do need to treat all of our sisters, and ourselves better.

  3. OMG! you are saying the exact things that I have said so many times. There is such a dangerous epidemic of women hating themselves nowadays and it makes me want to cry. I was as an independent personal shopper for 6 years and I dressed hundreds of local ladies and I never ever had one client who could tell me that they loved their bodies. It was an extremely emotional job and I’m so proud that I made them all happier with themselves but it’s upset me every time to hear how women could speak to themselves in such a horrible way. We wouldn’t let anyone else speak to us like that, so why would we do it to ourselves??!
    Sorry, bit of a soap box moment…it’s something I’ve worked hard to overcome so I completely and utterly understand x

  4. Thank you so much. This message and reminder could not have come at a better time for me. I was just informed yesterday that my job is sending me on a trip to Hawaii for a week. This is the trip of a lifetime that my partner and I can enjoy together. Instead of being grateful and excited, I was terrified and depressed that I would not have a “swimsuit” body–whatever that means. I’m disappointed in myself, but your message has picked me up. I AM excited and grateful to have this amazing opportunity to go to Hawaii and I WILL rock a bathing suit in the body I have 🙂

    • You go Hayley! Hawaii sounds fantastic! We women spend so much time agonising over how we look that we miss out on the best things in life (like new places, beautiful beaches and tropical seas). I’ve no doubt you’ll rock that bathing suit and have an amazing trip. Happy travels 🙂

  5. Guilty as charged! I think, being in the 30’s group you mentioned, it is harder because we still think of ourselves as we were and when we’re not that anymore, we can’t help but see the difference. This aging thing is a whole lot tougher than I thought it would be! :S

  6. Hah! Just wait til you’ve passed 50! Things get very interesting. Like catching a glimpse of your reflection and wondering who the old broad is? I have suffered for years in this department, and sadly, still do. The best help I found was Marianne Williamson’s unfortunately titled “A Course in Weight Loss”, it’s really about becoming respectful of this vehicle that so kindly carries us around. The good news is, that as I get older, I care less and less what others think of me, so starving myself to please someone else has been replaced with the desire to not have to buy a new wardrobe, or being strong enough to ride my motorcyle. Your attention to the effect our negativity has on young girls is spot on, I so wish I had had a healthy female role model around. And thank you for being a healthy female role model for me now!

  7. This is even more important if you are a mother of daughter(s). While I am not completely happy with my body and health, I make every effort to not say anything degrading about it in front of my daughters. They have 2 very different body types and it take a lot to not make simple ‘harmless’ comments about them. I think they’re both perfect, just very different. But I make sure to compliment both of them and tell them they each have a perfect belly/feet/hair color/etc. I am trying harder to be a good example for them by eating good foods and being active, keeping my body strong. THAT is what we should be focusing on, not what we think we should be at.

  8. I love this message. I strongly believe in the mind/body connection. It wasn’t until I accepted myself and started working out to simply improve/maintain muscle tone and flexibility and not to lose weight, that I actually lost weight as a bonus!

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