Hell, no mirror? OK, look down. For most of us that's enough.
What do you see? Cover model perfection? Airbrushed skin, taut, firm flesh?
Yeah, me either.
The reality is none of us is, or ever will be, completely satisfied with our packaging. Fat, thin, skin saggy, brown dots, bruises, birthmarks, cellulite, poor muscle tone, scars, short legs, long legs, big nose, bumpy nose, heavy eyelids, crows feet, hammertoes, long second toe, flabby knees, tube sock boobs, barely there boobs, pot belly, beer belly, inches to pinch, or thin enough to count ribs.
It doesn't matter. We all have something physical we deplore, hide, struggle with, or are actively trying to change.
Even those who appear to have the physical perfected are not immune to this most normal of human traits. I have known trainer after trainer and athlete after athlete who are absolute specimens of physicality, and they all have something they are working on, wish they could improve. I have often joked that the ass is always leaner in the other pair of pants. That we always look at others and think they have it so much better - that all the answers to life's happiness would be ours if we, too, wore a size "insert magic number."
It's just not true.
The older I get, the more I understand that happiness is found in health, not in the tag in the back of my skort. It is found in feeling good, laughing easily, and taking care of the one body I have. I am 50. In my adult life I have weighed as little as 93 pounds (eating disorder) and 160 pounds (first baby, eating for 8). And I have hit every number in between those two as my body has adjusted to the years, the mileage, the input, and the exercise.
I never want to be 93 again - that was stupid and dangerous. By the same token, I do not ever wish to be 160 again. That was partly baby, mostly indulgence. So I do what I can for me. I do what I can to better the odds, to work with what I have, making it as strong as I can, as healthy as I can. I eat clean, I work out. Am I some super model ready for her close-up?
Pardon me whilst I laugh.
I am barely 5'2". I am 50. While I have not yet hit menopause, my metabolism has been giving me the finger for years now. So I have to work harder than ever to maintain, let alone lose. And that's ok. I do it for me, and I do not give a damn what anyone else thinks. I may not look like an Olympic athlete while out running, but I am out running.
Which brings me to the point of all of this.
We live in a society in which it is somehow not just acceptable, but elevated to a sport of sorts, to mock those who do not fit a certain physical aesthetic. Call it fat shaming, I call it cruel. And wrong. And bullying. Why someone's circumference is anybody else's business is beyond me. What does a person get by running down the body of another? Especially when the one throwing stones is probably just as easily mockable for something.
Maybe their own ass. Maybe the back of their own legs that look like they got hit by a sack of nickels. Maybe their crooked teeth, their big ears, their thin hair? Or maybe their humanity deficit. Harder to see, I know, but those who suffer from it usually out themselves pretty easily.
Meet Dani Mathers. Dani is a Playboy model, in fact, Dani was Playboy Playmate of the Year for 2015.
Now, before any accuses me of looking for an intentionally provocative picture of Ms. Mathers, save it - this was by far the least provocative picture I could find. Dani likes her body, likes sharing her body with the masses. And that's fine. Her body, her choice. She puts it out there, she gives consent to be looked at.
Dani, however, doesn't understand that last part when it comes to other people's bodies.
Ms. Mathers has recently found her firm fanny in a sling for not only taking a picture of a naked woman showering at LA Fitness, but for sharing it with her followers on Snapchat. The woman was older. The woman did not look like Dani. Yes, the woman was larger. And Dani posted these two images along with her own special caption:
(Yes, I have obscured this woman. Dani shared her with the world without such consideration.)
While many of her equally unenlightened followers lauded and cheered her efforts at shaming this woman, more stood up and chewed her ass into pulp. That she was surprised at the reaction speaks volumes to the character famine inside this person. It never dawned on her that not only was it a violation of someone's privacy, but that it was unlawful as well? Never occurred to her that not every person lives and breathes to attain the title of Playmate of the Year? Never crossed her small mind that this woman was in a fitness facility, showering after working out??? Which speaks to the fact that this woman actively cares for herself?
When it became apparent to poor Dani that more people were against her photography efforts than for them, she provided a truly politician-esque apology.
I want to acknowledge my post from snapchat earlier. There is no excuse…I understand fully the magnitude of this post and that I have hurt a lot of people, women. Body shaming is not okay, and is nothing to joke about… This was meant to be a part of a private conversation that never should have happened. There are no words to describe how deeply sorry I am for hurting and offending you all. Women make my world go around, I respect women, I surround myself with women and I completely understand the magnitude of this post. Please please please know how upset I am with myself and take my word that this won't happen again. I love and appreciate every one of you and know that everyone is beautiful in their own way… That's what makes us all so special… I can't undo this mistake, but I ask your forgiveness. Should never make light of another woman's naked body. I'm sorry for what I did… I need to take some time to myself now to reflect on why I did this horrible thing. Goodnight.
"This was meant to be part of a private conversation..." <---she blamed her newness to Snapchat, that she meant to send it to one person, not a million .
I see, so ridiculing her is ok, just not en masse? Sorry, Dani, you lose. You did this because you thought you were better than a woman clearly 20+ years older than you, and many pounds heavier than you. You did it because you thought it was funny and that your 1 million+ followers would laugh along with you. Mostly, you did this because you did not think you would get called out for it.
Since your lame attempt at damage control, including your tearful video posted to Youtube, you have been suspended from your radio gig, kicked out of every LA Fitness center, and are now being investigated by LAPD for "disseminating private images."
As you should be.
What you thought was funny, was criminal. What you thought was a knee slapper, should get you convicted. Sadly, all that will probably get legally slapped is your wrist. (Making someone feel bad isn't a criminal offense. But it should be. Prolonged, sustained, it can lead to depression, and worst case, suicide.)
The bigger ramifications are obviously coming from the public. And you deserve it all - the derision, the shame, the humiliation. All the things you tried to do to that woman whose only sin was working out and taking a shower in a place she thought was private.
I have news for people who think and act like Dani Mathers - your collagen won't last forever. Your metabolism will ultimately betray you. Your skin will eventually sag. Your face will wrinkle, and your hair will thin. I do not care how hard you work at it, if you never stop working at it, age will do what age does. We are all decomposing, daily. Little by little. Bit by bit.
And that's ok. We are organic life forms - our prime lasts only a short while. Dani - you won't be gracing the cover of Playboy forever, and they will eventually recall your bunny ears and tail as younger, firmer flesh kicks your aging ass to the curb.
And when that happens, what do you want? Some young dolt with a camera phone snapping your naked pic in the shower after you try your hardest to just stay healthy in the body you have? Or a society that sees you, ample or otherwise, and looks beyond your circumference? Sees your effort. See your humanity. Sees YOU.
We live in a world where "perfection" is sold to us daily. Magazines, commercials, movies. Taut flesh is valuable. Flabby flesh is sad. We all know the rhetoric. We all feel the rhetoric. We live in a world where Kim Kardashian is on some ridiculous pedestal for constantly Instagramming her naked flesh. But here's the thing, even Kim is beholden to that mindset of unrealistic perfection. Every "candid" photo she shares is a painstakingly thought out process of angles, lighting, filters, and photo finishing before she "shares" it with the world. Hell, anyone can download any number of photo programs to their phone for free that can erase wrinkles, soften skin, enlarge eyes, whiten teeth. I know someone who actually filters their child's pictures before sharing them. Their child. At no point in life is our skin ever more beautiful than when we are children, yet this person airbrushes her child's skin.
We all know it is bullshit. ALL OF US. We know that cover models' photos are excruciatingly Photoshopped and filtered. We know we are fed a reality that isn't real. We can see reality all around us. We can see that 99% of the population do not look like movie stars or high fashion runway models. WE KNOW THIS. Yet we mock other people all the same. We roll our eyes at them in the grocery store. We openly disparage them when they board airplanes. We take secret photos and share them online.
Be kind. How difficult is that? The only body that you need to concern yourself with is YOURS. That goes for everyone. And your body is not the same as his body, as her body. Every body has a story behind it. Disease, illness, childbirth, stress, joy, training, relaxing, trauma, indulgence, age, genetics. And you do not know the story inside just by looking at the cover.
Life is short. And life is hard enough without making it harder for each other by bullying and shaming.
Look in the mirror. Go ahead, look in the mirror - at your whole body. Even the parts you wish you could change.
You and your story are more than your reflection.
Because trust me, Dani, if we only went by your cover, we'd think you were a beautiful human being inside.