The Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide to: Talking about your body anxieties

You’re a grown-ass woman, and you have grown an ass. Or maybe you haven’t. Whether you are rivaling Kardashian or imitating Knightley in the butt department, if you have grown up in interacting with any part of modern society, you are going to feel shitty about whatever junk you’re packing in trunk. Or your upper trunk. Or your… side car. Whatever.

We’ve all been conditioned by the media and advertisers and the patriarchy and the blah blah blah to feel like we’re probably pretty gross, regardless of how we look—if we’d just buy the $300 cream this wouldn’t be a problem, OBVIOUSLY, but until that day, we just have to hate ourselves once in a while. Hopefully it doesn’t happen too often, but when it does it can help to get it out. Girls are great at this type of independent group-therapy, and many of my own issues have been worked out via late night quasi-feminist chats about cellulite with my best bitches.

The problem that can arise here is that because we all have our own weird $300 cream-based baggage, ladies can get really bristly and uncomfortable when other people’s or their own body insecurities are brought up. Also, everyone has that friend that talks nonstop about how fat they are, and that friend needs to SHUT UP. And yet, sometimes we all must vent. It’s kind of a social minefield. I thought I’d try to help you navigate.

Do not be that friend we just talked about.

Talking about anything ad nauseum is well, nauseating, but ohmygodshutupforever to the friend in the group who makes everything about their perceived flaws. Seeing Angelina Jolie on the cover of a magazine is not a reasonable trigger for a barrage of comments about your own left leg, and how it would NEVER get that much social media attention and/or fit into size 2 jeans. Plus you’ll have a hard time finding sympathy when you are really having a downer day if you’re talking about this crap nonstop.

Consider the time/place

The time is not “after the bar”, and the place is NEVER twitter. Keep it off social media in general, which is a safe space for pictures of cats acting like humans, while this kind of thing benefits no one: “my stomach is 2 flabby 4 this dress 🙁 🙁 :(“ #nothankyou. Talk to your friends or mom or dad or therapist, someone who you know will both understand and care.

Be prepared.

Certain events have more potential to make you feel negatively about your bod. If you’re going somewhere you know might make you a sad panda, ponder that eventuality before you’re confronted with it, and try to do something proactive about it. Turn pool parties into COOL PARTIES by reminding yourself in advance that it is not a beach body competition. Then gather a stack of magazines that use the phrase “beach body” and ritualistically burn them while you put on a bathing suit you feel comfortable in. This way you won’t spend the whole party complaining to your friend in a corner about your legs.

Keep others out of it

Do not drag someone else’s body into your concerns about your own. Even if you think you’re being complimentary, “I wish I had legs like yours” or “You’re so skinny, I hate you”, are brutal things to say to another human, and mire us all down with endless comparisons and unattainable wants, and basically focuses your energies in a non-productive way. Though for some reason we all seem to want this, we cannot actually Frankenstein ourselves into the Perfect Woman with Emily’s legs and Hali’s boobs and Kate’s hair. This kind of thing serves only to bring everyone to the brink of the Self Loathing chasm we are all trying to avoid even peering into. PS the concept of the Perfect Woman is the greatest joke of all time.

Set a time limit

Your upper arms don’t spend this much time thinking about you, nahmean? Cut it out after half an hour or so. Give in to the wallow, listen to your girlfriend or be listened to, take it all in, etc., but thirty minutes on, shut it down and go for a walk or something. “Go for a walk” – top tip for a WILD summer of loving yourself. Getting really crazy over here.

Try to hang with people who lessen those anxieties

You know how some puppies have shinier coats than others, and some have more symmetrical faces or perkier puppy-ears? And you know how even though all the puppies look different, at the end of the day they are all ADORABLE, no duh, because they are still all puppies? And even further, do you know how puppies don’t give a shit what the other puppies they’re playing with look like, or if they have a weird stumpy tail, because their tail is what wags to show they are happy and the other puppies are just their friends with whom they are playing and having fun? Make friends with some cool human puppies, basically.

Really think about why you feel that way

The other day I read a quote on tumblr from… some other tumblr user? Ru Paul? Martin Luther King Jr?? Tumblr is hard. The point is I read a quote that I am not attributing here, along the lines of “Loving your body is a political statement.” I think this is soooo deep and important in an embarrassingly non-ironic way. Everything about this system we’ve inherited wants you to hate your body. Making us spend time disliking our collective boobs is a way to get women to buy things and stop us from takin’ over. How radical—in the political sense and the way 90s skater-dudes meant it—to then to be like “cool cellulite, bro!”, even if you don’t totally mean it.

I know it is hard to love yourself all the time. It’s also hard to hear a perfectly lovely, intelligent friend go on and on about how they dislike themselves. Equally, no one wants to hear someone talk for hours about how they are totally at peace with their muffin top, or how they really are in peak physical condition, life has never been better, oh my god have you tried kale? But let’s try to support and care about each other, I guess is what I’m saying. Sometimes you gotta get the humble-brag stuff out and sometimes you gotta give a voice to a nagging feeling of self-doubt. Share that voice with your closest pals, and try not to do it too often. Treat it like an annoying peripheral acquaintance you don’t reaaaally want to hang out with—if you don’t answer its texts, it will eventually get the message.

~ Monica Heisey

Need some grown-ass advice? Follow @monicaheisey and tweet suggestions for future guides!

Read more of Monica’s Grown-Ass Woman guides on hangover maintenancevintage clotheshow to have a long-distance relationshipsounding smart at cocktail parties, and packing to disappear.

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