Today, as I was perusing the March issue of Women’s Health—a magazine I am mysteriously sent every single month though I have never ordered it and have repeatedly asked to be removed from the mailing list—I found this self-hate-promoting gem under the tag line, “Everyone’s a Loser!”
“Use Mirrors to Shift Your Perspective!
Fun-house mirrors distort the truth, but regular ones can offer a helpful reality check. In a study from the University of Central Florida, people found chocolate cake less yummy when downing it in front of a mirror, since the objective view may have made them feel uncomfortable with their unhealthy food choice. On the flip side, fruit salad tasted just as good in front of the glass. Any reflective surface can work, so try a window seat when you dine out.”
Really, Women’s Health?
Your idea of “healthy” is to promote self-loathing by suggesting people watch themselves as they eat “unhealthy” food to drive home the point that enjoying a piece of chocolate cake is unconscionable, amoral and downright apocalyptic?
Why don’t you start a chain of all-mirror restaurants, too, designed so we can see ourselves from every angle as we eat, applauding or denigrating ourselves for each bite of food we take—because, and only because, it will make us fat or thin, and not because it tastes good or has any other value.
Maybe we should just walk around with mirrors strapped to our foreheads, so we won’t be tempted to enjoy our lives or relax those critical voices in our heads for one single second—not ever—never!
Because you know what happens if we do relax or give ourselves a break; we get fat! And when we’re fat, we deserve all the self-hatred we can pile on, much like the cheese sauce we have piled on our basket of hand-cut fries.
Well I have two words for you: F*ck. That.
I’m not eating cake or fruit salad in front of a mirror—or anything else, because I have more important things to do, like gazing into the eyes of my friends or family and giving thanks as we share the beautiful experience of breaking bread together.
And speaking of beauty, which is what you are trying to sell me, along with every other vampiric women’s magazine in the world (with my self-esteem as collateral damage), I’d like to give you a few tips. If you actually try and listen to them you might find your conscience restored, and that weight you carry from profiteering off of the souls of your sisters/mothers/daughters lightened just a tad.
1) Everyone gets a piece of beautiful.
Just as everyone should get a piece of chocolate cake, everyone should get a piece of beautiful.
We all have something beautiful about us—inside, outside, all around—the trick is just to acknowledge it. To do so, we have to widen our definition of beauty and find where we fit inside of it. We get to choose what that definition is. And while it’s easier in some ways to be conventionally beautiful and not have to fight for your beauty rights, that is by no means the final word.
What is beautiful about you? Find it. Say it. Believe it.
Look to people like Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo, Ashley Graham, Jane Goodall, Zora Neale Hurston and Georgia O’Keefe for inspiration. These are women highly skilled at getting their beauty on in unusual ways.
2) When someone gives you a compliment, believe them.
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I am enjoying a perfectly nice piece of (mirror-free) chocolate cake, and someone happens to remark that I have gorgeous hair. Immediately, the rush of negativity pours out: “Oh no, I look disgusting today,” or “Good thing I’ve got good hair; nothing else is working for me,” or “I wish it covered up my fat face.”
Why do we do this to ourselves? Here’s an idea, just say “thank you.”
The more we let ourselves hear and internalize legitimate compliments, the more they will fuse together with a real sense of who we are, which lets our beauty shine.
3) Ride the beauty wave.
Everything changes from day to day—the world is in a constant state of flux. No less so our beauty. Some days we may feel like we’ve got it all together, other days not so much. I suggest that on the days we feel really great we let ourselves enjoy it. (Radical, I know.)
Maybe we’re all glow-y from getting into that elite master’s program we thought was way beyond us. Or maybe we just had sex with someone amazing, or walked our dog and were suffused by a random feeling of good-ness, or made a fantastic meal for a bunch of people who are begging us for our recipes.
All of these things can light a light within us, and that is truly all that beauty is. An internal light. That’s it. Bam. And if we let ourselves feel shiny and sparkly when the light is naturally occurring, we won’t have to try so hard to feel it when it’s not.
So, Women’s Health, here’s your “helpful reality check.” I realize that none of these beauty tips require that anyone spend any money on anything, and that they promote the dangerous (to you) idea of multifaceted beauty and self-acceptance, but you still better listen up.
Women are catching on to the fact that we are being used and exploited, and that doesn’t make us feel beautiful at all.
Author: Erica Leibrandt
Editor: Toby Israel