Monday, March 29, 2010

On Cottage Cheese

Something made me angry today. I was looking through the pictures in a Facebook group about fake, orange tans. Fake, orange tans are silly because they are fake. And because people are not, in their natural state, orange. I don't really have a problem with thinking super orange tans a little bit ridiculous. Should I have been looking at a snarky Facebook group? I suppose it's not the nicest thing to do. But let's just set that matter aside and focus on a single picture I saw and the comments that followed.

I came across one picture of a skantily-clad girl on a guy's lap in a club. It was tagged with the label "cottage cheese" at the girl's thighs.

One comment read "c-e-l-l-u-l-i-t-e!"

One woman said "disgusting...really!!"

There was a comment saying "ew bitch sorry but i don't have cottage cheese thighs and i am very much a woman in the world. you need to get a pair of pants real talk."

Another, "he must be in pain! ):" in what seems to be reference to the girl's sheer hugeness.

This is the picture in question:

I want you all to put aside the whole issue of tans and pants and what it is to be a "proper" woman for a moment.

I don't know about you, but when I look at this girl, I see a pretty thin young woman. Is she wearing panties instead of pants? Yes. But is she fat? No, she's not. She's sitting on someone and her thighs are pressed against other thighs and don't look perfectly smooth. I feel like that's pretty expected. Are they smooth thighs? I think so. These legs are a lot slimmer than my own. And honestly? I see about one little spot of cellulite, which is a thing that most women have at least a little bit of. And is this dude in pain? No, I don't really think so because I highly doubt this slender woman is crushing him.

When I see things like this, it really gets me thinking about the vicious circle that people get into when it comes to body image. We feel poorly about ourselves because we get picked on, or because someone just like us is getting picked on. So to bring ourselves up, we become even more judgmental of other people. We lash out, because it's the way we think things work, I guess.

If I can't be pretty, no one can.

So that girl's a fatass and that girl's grossly skinny and that girl has a pizza face and that girl is a total fucking slut.

I'm not one to get all confrontational but grow the hell up.

The snarky comments people make to your face or behind you back or on the internet are sad. They're sad because every little bit of hate being thrown your way is-- more likely than not-- a way for that person to release some of their own pain. Women that hate on other women are women who feel guilty about their own bodies. Misery loves company. These girls hate because they hate themselves and seeing someone that makes them think of that emotional suffering makes them angry, and so they attack. And then the women who are attacked learn to hate themselves in turn.

I want to say that the answer is to just let nasty words go in one ear and out the other, but I know how hard that is. That takes years and years of practice, and still some people will never be able to do it-- I don't know if I will. I know I love my body more than I have in the past, but I doubt I will ever be unafraid to drink soda in front of my mom without fearing she'll tell me I'm fat. I'm afraid of being told I'm fat. I know I'm not skinny and I know I am not exactly my own ideal, but I'm learning to love myself. Only with love will I ever feel comfortable in my own skin and be fully equipped to take the absolute best care of my body possible. I know that loving myself and really, truly not caring what anyone has to say about me is a long way off. I wish it was easy. But it's not, so it's not the answer for most people.

I think we are the problem and we are the solution.

We are constantly being seen, and thus constantly being judged. I think many of us are, at least in part, so afraid on being judged because we know we judge. We know we talk about other women behind their backs. We know we might raise an eyebrow when we see a girl we don't think looks good. We may even be the anonymous commenter on the internet writing horrible remarks about someone we've never met. Maybe if we didn't have to fear this kind of ruthlessness from our peers, we'd all love ourselves more. Maybe our society would be one where people wouldn't be afraid to be who they are, to wear what they want, to speak their minds if we put aside the snark for one damn minute and remembered:

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

EDIT: I looked back at the original photo just a moment ago and one comment caught my eye:

"What saddens me, is that this is what my body looks like.... and I didnt think it was to bad, until I read the comments...." 

What you say about other people, especially in a public forum, doesn't just hurt that individual. The girl who made this comment wasn't the one in the photo, yet seeing the girl in the photo bashed for her looks had an effect on her self-esteem. My heart broke a little.


Leah Felicity said...

I agree with you completely. From what I can see, she's a beautiful girl (orangeness aside), and that guy looks pretty pleased about the whole situation. I'm grateful that at least men don't have to deal with the body image stuff (as much), and can be strong enough to help us out and appreciate us the way we are (typically).

Vanessa said...

Leah: It's funny you mention that, since I'm hoping to get my boyfriend to do a post on male body image soon! Check back for it, yes?

Sydnie said...

It disgusts me how much people are judged on their outward appearance. Thank you so much for sharing your opinion, which in fact is very similar to mine! People should learn to look past the outside, because you never know what could be hidden in the shadows within. Such an amazing post!


Sarah_J_Evans said...

Amen to that - one of my mum's favourite sayings that one.

Also - you get what you give.

Live by the sword,die by the sword.

It is definitely this knd of thing that makes people doubt themselves and each other frankly.

I think the internet is a particularly bad arena for it too: people are too often willing to type things they would NVER say out loud.


Vanessa said...

Sydnie: I know a lot of people who have judged others only to someday be best friends ever. You never know what a person is REALLY like until you get to know them.

Sarah: The internet really is a cesspool of negativity sometimes. It's very sad what people will do with anonymity.

Vampires and Tofu said...

I am amazed DAILY by the snarky horrible comments women make about other women on the internet (and IRL.)

Not too long ago Glamour magazine ran a couple of fashion spreads featuring models that aren't a size 0. They had tummy rolls and hips and women were singing the praises of Glamour for using "real" looking women in its pages.

Yet in the Glamour blogs women are still tearing apart the looks of damn near every woman who has a makeup or fashion look posted.

Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

Who are you Weesha? said...

it's a scary world we live in, and sadly a lot of people I know think like this. I saw this really cool post on awkward digressions about how every picture is photo shopped to get rid of cellulite so I guess that's why everyone is so ignorant. I mean c'mon even kim kardashian admits to having it and she's tiny!

Miss Peregrin said...

*shakes head*

I don't really know what to say to that. I hate that women seem to feel the need to tear down others around them in order to feel better about themselves.

Kelly said...

I cannot believe people said all that. It'd be bad enough to be hating on a girl who did have bad cellulite, but this girl's body looks great and her thighs are fine. Plenty of women would kill to have thighs like that.

Vanessa said...

Vampires and Tofu: I really appreciate what Glamour's been trying to do, but I also see how sad it is that women are CLAMORING to see bigger women in the media and then they tear them apart. It's awful

Weesha: You have to give Kim Kardashian some credit for admitting it. Most celebrities would go on pretending their Photoshopped bodies are their real bodies.

Miss Peregrin: It really is a vicious circle. The worse we feel, the worse we want others to feel.

Kelly: Agreed! I wish my thighs were that slim-- geez!

Kylie said...

This is why I stay away from anything and everything Facebook related... it's all about judging each other!! That chick is skinnier and has less cellulite than me and I aint fat!! People are nute


selinaoolala said...

wow this is such a great post, i'm so glad to have read it just at the right time. i haven't exercised since i was 16 and because i'm slim i thought it was all good, but i have so much cellulite and i'm 20! and that's not an exaggeration, i really do and it runs in my family. the thing about cellulite is that the way the media goes on about it, it seems like you'd only get it if you really flawed and the way those cheapie rags circle it on celebrity beach photo just struck horror in me! but guaranteed this guy is having the best time of his life,a nd i think all girl insecurities come from thinking guys won't like something, and really guys love all bits of girls. when i see a guy, i don't look for the ripped ab or amazing cheekbones, if a guy has a little stomach it's cute and even better! it took me a long time to realise that 'perfect' features are not important, relevant, or realistic. i love this post and the way you stress that we shouldn't be hating on each other, and if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it! i believe in karma and would never say anything about a girl because i imagine what it would be like if you knew someone said something about you. have you had that crushing feeling if you know someone said something horrible about you, i used to get it a lot when people would pick on my hair colour if i was on a bus or something, thank god for headphones! but this girl wanted to wear hot pants and good for her, because it would be so boring to just look at some simple legs, it sounds weird but to me her legs show personality and the fact she got them out shows she has confidence, if that makes sense? and that's so much more attractive than just some bog standard legs like in every other picture out there. this is such an important topic, i'll bookmark this post forever! i was at a party and a girl who lives on my floor was like 'omg that girl looks like a man?!' and obviously this girl was not a man, but she went and took a photo of her and started showing it people. i am so glad that i never let myself think like that because imagine if i'd laughed along and foudn out one day someone was taking and laughing at a photo of me? i regret just smiling and changing the subject and not saying how mean that was , but i guess we're so used to slagging people off at any opportunity like you said. sorry this comment turned into an essay, love your blog!xx

Anonymous said...

vanessa u ra bad bad girl

Sara Cochran said...

Leah: It's funny you mention that, since I'm hoping to get my boyfriend to do a post on male body image soon! Check back for it, yes?

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