“This is so heavy!” Grunting noisily, the dental assistant handed me my laptop bag. Nervously, I joined in laughing with her while attempting to edge my way out the door. In thirty minutes I would be taking a final for my honors class so I wanted to get to college as soon as possible. Having a random dentist appointment right before going wouldn’t help anyone with their pre-test nerves.
“You should feel her bag.” Although nice, the dental assistant seemed to not want me to leave. Calling out to the woman who was talking about the bill with me, she added one last comment that struck a bad cord. “It has to be at least 40 pounds, almost as much as she is.”
What on earth do you do with that?
Part of me wants to jump for joy but another part of me wants to scream when I hear remarks like that. 40 pounds? You have to be kidding me! Not only is that an impossible amount for an 5′ 4.5″ adult woman to weigh, it is plain rude to point out someone’s weight like that. Why is that when someone is tiny, everyone assumes that it is normal and healthy? Also since when is this an appropriate topic for small talk? Let me say this clearly; weight is not something that would be talked about with strangers! I would even say not with friends. Judging, even positively someone’s body just doesn’t seem right.
However, it is difficult in our society. We live in a culture that is fixated on looks. However each of us can try to help change that. First of all, we need to treat ourselves well. I am the first to admit how difficult this is. Often I hate my body and don’t want anything to with it. However if I am going to try to change our world’s view of beauty, I need to start with caring for myself. Instead of degrading my body, I try to be sympathetic and focus on the parts that I like. For example, I really like my long hair. So instead of moping about my legs or stomach, I try putting a pretty flower clip in my ponytail. This little thing really can help me to turn my thoughts to a more positive place concerning myself.
Secondly, we can do our part to care for others. Do not comment on peoples’ weight. Instead, tell them how their eyes sparkle, how infectious their laugh is, how classy their outfits are, how patient they are with others, the creative gift ideas they come up with, etc. There are so many things to compliment people for other than their figure. By eliminating our own judgmental talk, we can start a helpful trend that others will hopefully catch onto.
Finally, we can start taking on the culture itself. Boycott places that are not supportive of healthy body image, speak the truth when friends degrade themselves or others, or start advocacy campaigns. There are so many different things you can do to help our society see what is true beauty. Most importantly keep working to build yourself and other people up.
So when I am in situations like I was at the dentist this morning, I am still not positive how to correctly respond. I am still learning and growing. One day, I will hopefully be able to say, “Thank you but I am stronger than I look. Have a lovely day.”