Update on Confidence

Update: I received a very polite response this evening from the magazine’s editor. Here’s what she had to say:

Hello Amy and thank you for your email – I am very interested in your story.
I concede I didn’t realise a small group of larger women would take this so literally or seriously. The ‘rock a swimsuit’ is a rather flippant frame of reference, which is a relatable scenario or imagining for most women.

We will all be confronted with images of ‘perfect bodies’ in swimsuits over the next few months. And, with very close experience with near-fatal effects of body-bashing, my mission was to undermine the mentality that you are your body, or that it is any indicator of one’s worth.

Let me be clear on my personal belief, that you are as worthy as I and vice versa. The right to feel good about yourself is a birth right I hate to think could be taken from either of us. Yet, as individuals we also have limited control. Reality will not go away, so we must choose how we respond – noone can make us feel bad without our permission.

I appreciate your experience and views and feel they suggest a debate that needs to be had separately.

To quote you, “Peace”, Amy.

I really appreciate that she took the time to respond to me, and that she spoke so well about her mission. I responded.

I really appreciate your answer today. Thank you.

I am incredibly sorry to hear that you have had such hideous experiences with body-bashing as well. I have lived through a lot of that kind of ugly in my life. None of us deserve it. I truly love that your mission is to undermine that negative mentality. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do in a broader sense.

You say we have limited control – I presume you mean limited control of what occurs outside of us, and with that I heartily agree. I disagree, however, with your assertion that “reality will not go away.” The fact that you work in this arena tells me that you don’t truly believe that. I think we both believe that we have the power to change reality one person at a time by challenging assumptions and societal standards and bringing them up for free and open debate. Even you who are working in this arena – which is tremendous! – were challenged by several of us about the arbitrary requirements of this program. The very fact that you didn’t realize the way this might be taken by larger women is indicative of the fact that the status quo IS changing because we DID challenge it, and I think that’s pretty phenomenal. Keep on that mission, Rebecca – in all its forms.

Again, thank you for taking your time to respond.

The Truly Confident Woman – Me

So today I ran across an ad from an Australian health magazine looking for “body image-spiration from confident women!” Well, that’s me!

Or not.

Turns out, I am not their vision of a confident woman. Apparently that descriptor doesn’t apply to those of us outside their target range of sizes 12-16. I find that a bit appalling and unpleasant. What does my size have to do with my confidence level? In the months since I gave up hating my body for being too fat for society and stopped trying to change my body to conform to unrealistic societal standards, I’ve grown to see just how prevalent this debilitating trend is for women. We do not only have worth when we are below a size 12. We do not only have worth when others tell us we have worth. We are not beautiful because we have an athletic frame. We are beautiful because we exist.

So I responded to the notice. I doubt I’ll hear from them, but that’s beside the point because they needed to hear from me.

As a size 32, I rock my swimsuit. I love my body because I no longer believe that my body is anything but deserving of love, respect, and dignity, and I no longer believe that my value is based on an arbitrarily numbered one-inch square of fabric sewn into my clothes. Apparently, however, you don’t share my sentiments as you have locked your size requirements at 16. Basically this screams to me and so many other folks that you believe that those of us outside those very narrow parameters don’t have the right to wear swimsuits, or that if we choose to wear them, we could not possibly “rock” them, as you’ve put it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I behold beauty as something so much deeper than just a body size. That is the shallowest determinant of anything. Body size and shape tell you nothing of the person inside. Beauty is who you are. How do you treat people? Are you interested in others, or only yourself? Do you believe in yourself? Do you judge others based on superficial characteristics? Do you have integrity? Do you choose to do the right thing even when it’s difficult? Beauty is strength, passion, courage, energy, positivity, and so much more. Beauty has nothing to do with what’s on the outside.

Am I fat? You bet your butt I am. I’m also healthy, beautiful, kind, sensitive, passionate, courageous, bold, positive….the list just grows. That is what makes me beautiful, and it has nothing to do with a size or a swimsuit. Peace.