You Are Enough. Just As You Are.
Picture this scene. Two ladies, chatting in the sun over a glass of wine. They’re dressed like they just rocked up from one of the shiny new offices in King’s Cross. Their hair is on point. Their makeup is Instagram-worthy. Their nails are flawless.
And they’re bloody miserable. Like really.
All they can talk about, is how small they want to be.
“I started out in the back of the class, the really fat disgusting one… like… I was an actual size 16. Can you imagine? But like, now I’m at the front and like, I’m probably one of the smallest, and I look back at them girls and think, gawd. That was me. I wouldn’t want to be like that again. D’you know what I mean?”
These two women somehow managed to discuss calorie counts for an hour. An actual, whole hour. We’re talking grammage, ratios of healthy fats to unhealthy fats, GI index, sugar type. Because you know, who doesn’t love talking about every single crumb they’ve eaten that week.
And then, one lady actually praises the other for managing to snack on a single almond. One measly nut. How joyless must your existence be that snacking on a single almond is seen as a Good Thing?
The most ludicrous, and upsetting thing about this conversation though, was their perception of themselves.
You see, the real point of that exercise class, was not health. It was to get to the front. Where the thin women are. Because in the front row, there is validation. Because you only become acceptable by merit of being less.
The virtues of thinness, smallness, and insubstantiality are trumpeted everywhere. Be less to be more. Be less to be seen. Be less to be loved. Don’t be loud. Don’t be too opinionated. And for god’s sake, don’t eat that thing you’re thinking about eating.
It’s the message that women get through every single channel, every single day. We aren’t enough as we are. There’s always some new level of lessness to aspire to.
At this point, I have something to confess. I am size 16. And according to the worldview of these ladies, I am not only fat and disgusting, I am unfit to be seen. I should know my place, in the back row, with those people.
Nah. I call bullshit.
Not only am I neither fat nor disgusting, I’m fucking fabulous.
And so are you.
Every single one of you reading this, is a fabulous human being. You are enough, just as you are. And you cannot let these people, with these ridiculous, arbitrary standards of beauty and morality and “goodness” — set by magazine and blogger fucktards who have nothing better to do than make other people feel shit about themselves — you cannot let them make you feel like you need to be less to be loved.
The truth is, it’s easy to be angry at those girls. It’s easy to dismiss them as vacuous morons who will jump on the next healthy eating fad, even if it was radioactive bilge. But I’m not. Because I don’t, for a second, believe they want to feel like that. I don’t believe they want to eat single almonds as snacks, or compare their calorie intakes while they constantly wonder, am I thin enough yet to be loveable? Will someone like me now? Have I suffered enough to deserve love yet?
It’s not their fault. It’s the system we live in. I’m not just angry at that system. I’m fucking furious at it.
The worst thing is, we’re all contributing to it, whether we mean to or not. Because we’re all propagating our version of this idea that we’re not enough, in our own way. And that’s human. But it’s also destructive.
It isn’t all doom and gloom though. I do think that there are things we can all do to reverse that cycle though, to put more positivity out there.
First, we all really need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. I mean for god’s sake, who cares if someone else is thinner, prettier, smarter, richer? What bearing does it actually have on your life, on you as a human being? Absolutely none. Let it go.
Second, we need to take the media we consume, the IG posts, the FB statuses, the ads we’re bombarded with, with a fucking fistful of salt. Make that a shovelful. I say this as someone who has worked on advertising campaigns. Let me tell you a secret: they are bollocks. Those models don’t look like that in real life. They look weird. They’re unhappy. They were probably shouted at the whole shoot. No one enjoyed putting that shit together. It’s a good-looking lie to sell you a piece of cloth.
Open your eyes. See things for what they are. Happiness is not a purchase away.
Third, we need to stop looking for so much external approval, for validation that we’re enough. I am the first to admit, this is hard. Just think about it though. Every time we post a selfie online, what we’re doing is screaming PLEASE TELL ME I AM BEAUTIFUL INTERNET STRANGER. We’re putting our happiness quite literally at the fingertips of a bunch of randomers. We’re letting our self-esteem be dictated by numbers. Our self-worth is at the whim of an algorithm. How mad is that? Would you go up to people in the street and say PLEASE TELL ME MY FACE LOOKS WELL HOT TODAY. I hope you wouldn’t. If that sounds like a thing you might do, back away from the screen and get yourself to a therapist, stat.
That’s not to say that seeking external validation is wrong. It’s not. Again, it’s human. It seems though that as our bonds between each other have become less, our need for approval becomes greater. We need people to tell us we’re okay, with flashes of hearts and thumbs and kissy faces. When you think about it, it’s a pretty weird state of affairs.
Here’s the thing with needing approval. It becomes all-consuming. When we rely too heavily on external validation, we get obsessed with the metrics we use to control our appearance and therefore determine our self worth.
That’s when we praise ourselves for eating 847 calories, and snacking on a single almond, and moving to the front of the exercise class so that we know we’re not fat, disgusting pigs anymore.
You are enough. Just as you are.
And if anyone makes you feel like you’re lacking, that you’ll only make yourself loveable by taking away from yourself in some fundamental way?