As we head into the holiday season, I have been thinking about body image more than usual lately. Social media is full of comments, memes, etc around indulging, dieting, fitting into certain clothes and all of the other crap that make people feel bad about themselves. It angers me that even in a time that is supposed to be full of happiness, the focus is still on eating habits and body image. When can we just enjoy ourselves and be who we are??!!
In addition to this, the movie Dumplin’ started playing on Netflix. This has been on my radar for a while because it also deals with body image. Without giving away the movie (which was based on a book), I was very happy with the message it told. It’s a story about an overweight girl who enters a beauty pageant in her town (one that her mom is in charge of), to prove to everyone and indirectly herself that beauty is NOT defined by a person’s size. I think what I loved most about it is that none of the characters had to change their appearance to improve their lives and/or relationships. Willowdean Dickson, the main character, struggled with her self confidence and body image but instead of dieting, over-exercising or any other unhealthy behavior, she learns self acceptance. Looking back at movies in the past that had similar themes, the main character always had to change her looks and/or go from “the ugly duckling” to “the beautiful swan” so I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case for any of the characters. I recommend that you see this movie as a reminder that everyone is beautiful and society does NOT get to dictate that to us!
Another reminder of body image for me came today with a musical video from James Corden. This may sound weird but let me explain….. Last year, I was lucky to see James Corden in person being interviewed for a charity event. One of the questions he was asked had to do with how talented a singer he is. I found his answer very sad. He said that the reason people are so surprised by his talent is because no one expects someone who looks like him to be able to sing and dance as well as he does. How sad, that we live in a society where his size and looks are what are being judged rather than his talent and contributions. This answer has haunted me for over a year. Do we really live in such a superficial world?
Unfortunately, we do live in this world. Sometimes it can feel so hopeless and depressing, BUT life is too short to feel this way! We need to do exactly what James Corden and Willowdean Dickson have done and prove the world wrong and in doing so, prove it to ourselves as well! It’s time to educate society that beauty and talent come in all shapes and sizes. If we continue to try to change who we are and/or what we look like, not only does society not learn anything but we become as ignorant as they are and can lose ourselves.
Remember, that just like the gifts you may receive this holiday season, it’s not about the wrapping paper. It’s about what’s inside that wrapping. You are the present not the wrapping! Give yourself the gift of self-discovery and self-acceptance. Enjoy who you are and what you offer the world. I wish this for all of you and look forward to writing more in the new year to help you through this journey.