Here’s another one of my Disney in the City articles from our fabulous magazine, The Main Street Monthly! If you enjoy the series, you can get your subscription at www.themainstreetmonthly.com/store
If you read my articles each month, then you know I am always thinking about something, usually pondering self discovery and the issues that go along with that. The feedback I receive makes me realize that I’m not alone in that struggle. Whether it’s about people not finding good fitting clothes at Disney Parks, or people feeling like they don’t measure up, on vacation or any time really, I hear it all. Recently, I decided to relay my thoughts on this in our private Facebook group, TMSM Fan Nation. I asked our members what they thought about the new campaigns against body shaming, and how Disney fits into that as well. The responses were overwhelming, but very telling. Society has issues, and in return, they make women feel pretty bad sometimes.
So, what is “body shaming” and why do so many care about this? Body shaming usually leans in the direction of others being critical or making fun of people who by societies standards, are overweight. The definition of being overweight varies too, it depends on who you are asking. People are so critical, and it causes people of all ages to second guess themselves and have self esteem issues. This can also be reversed, when folks are mean to those who are extremely thin and have trouble gaining weight. The bottom line for me is….. what gives ANYONE the right to make someone else feel bad about how they look? There has to be some accountability for this somewhere. My readers feel the exact same way, and are also tired of it. So, what can we do about it?
These days it seems that there are others out there who are trying to take a stand against bullying and body shaming. One of my favorites, is Whitney Thore who has a show called “My Big Fat Fabulous Life.” She angles her life from a standpoint of being overweight, but also trying to be somewhat healthy and live her life like anyone else does. Also, just because someone looks a certain way, we really don’t know what their struggle actually is, and in Whitney’s case, it’s PCOS. Regardless, her “No Body Shame” campaign is about self acceptance and being comfortable in your own skin, no matter your size. While I find this to be inspiring, some criticize because they feel it promotes over eating and unhealthy lifestyles. There’s a fine line there, I can agree to that much, but again, we don’t truly know what’s going on with a person just by looking at them. The bottom line is that it’s not fair to judge. I admire her for taking a stand against people who try to shame others for who they are or how they look.
With strides like Whitney’s in check, even though it’s great, we still have a long way to go as a whole. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world where people don’t judge you based on your appearance? Wouldn’t you love to go to Disney and find a cute shirt with all the frills and bling in YOUR size, instead of feeling like you have to shop in the Men’s department to find something that’s comfortable? Even for myself, I can buy a size Medium at say, Old Navy, but at Disney, heck no. Extra Large please, since most items don’t run true to size! Size is just a number, but it can make you feel pretty bad in the right instance. We have so far to go still, don’t we? As much as this whole thing bothers me, I’m not sure how to go about making changes or what can be done. It’s really sort of sad. I hear stories of our readers, who have gone to the Parks and have been made fun of for their size, right out in the open, and that infuriates me. Who does that? Surely not at Disney! Yes, at Disney. What a shame! It absolutely breaks my heart to hear these kinds of things.
Recently, another effort was made against body shaming but was met with mixed reviews. Although I don’t read that magazine, Sports Illustrated used an “average sized” or “plus sized” model for their swimsuit edition. I think the model is around a size 16. Great right? I think so, but not everyone agrees. A Sports Illustrated model from years ago came out and said that this promotes an unhealthy lifestyle by having and average sized person on the cover. She can’t be serious! No, it’s people like HER who are promoting self esteem issues, eating disorders and depression over how we view ourselves. It has to stop at some point. Even in my own life, I struggle. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about dieting or worry about my weight. It consumes me. When I get ready to go out to a Park, I get dressed thinking I found something cute to wear, only to look in the mirror and not like what I see. I’m my own worst critic, you can ask anyone I know. Why do I do that to myself? I’m not sure, but I hate it. It doesn’t matter how many people pay me a compliment, to me, I struggle seeing what they see. I’m positive that I’m not alone in these kinds of feelings.
Like with anything else in life, I do try to lead by example. Too many times, women especially, are critical of each other instead of building each other up. Maybe if we heard more positive feedback from each other, we wouldn’t feel so bad when we’re out and about, enjoying life. Maybe we’d enjoy life more? Instead of looking at a friend and suggesting they eat veggies or a protein bar, have a flippin cookie with them, you only live once, have a cookie! Life isn’t a competition, and just because someone isn’t like you doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with them. This kind of criticism needs to stop. For ourselves, we also need to stop being so harsh. The next time you’re at Disney or anyplace that you want to look extra cute for, just wear what makes you happy. If you want to wear a tutu or Minnie polka dots, but are worried you won’t look good….. just like with the cookie, do it! Who cares what others think. At the end of the day when you lay your head down on your pillow at night, the only person you are accountable to is YOU when it comes to self esteem. I’m not saying to pull a chair up to to the buffet at the Crystal Palace and go to town, I’m saying that there is balance there and it’s ok to indulge at times and enjoy yourself. If someone doesn’t like it, then that’s on them. If women would just empower each other instead of tearing each other down, that would be such a huge improvement. You are beautiful just the way you are, and don’t you ever let anyone tell you otherwise.
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