Let’s (not) talk about body image


By Julia Brooks

As of late, Mindy Kaling is my number one comedy queen. Refreshingly honest and hilarious, she is my role model and wannabe best friend.

However, her curves and rich skin earn her extra attention in an industry filled with relatively homogenous actresses.

A couple of weeks ago, Mindy appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel.” In her interview,  she jokingly addressed the backhanded comments she often receives for being comfortable with her curves. For example, she said, “It’s so refreshing that Mindy feels comfortable letting herself go and being a fat sea monster.”

Mindy expressed her frustration at being told that she is a role model because she does not subscribe to the ideals of beauty that other people do.

But guess what? She does! As she so perfectly put it in her interview, “I run and work out! It takes a lot of effort to look like a normal chubby woman!”

Mindy’s words felt like a splash of fresh water on my face, so I started to think.

I learned long ago in biology class that genetics are the basis for our body structures. Genes determine our eye colors, heights, bone structures, finger lengths and shoe sizes. Each part of our bodies are a perfect combination of our parents’ genes. We cannot jump into our DNA and reconfigure the genes for thigh size.

The thing is, this lack of control is not easy to accept.

I spent my middle and high school years as a figure skater. By nature of the sport, I was constantly competing with other girls.  Therefore, I was also constantly comparing myself to other girls.

On top of this, my friends and I would frequently discuss our distaste for our muscular bottom halves. Over time, the possibility of skinny became superimposed on my set of strong, healthy legs. From a young age, like so many other girls, I was programmed to base my self-worth on comparison.

Over winter break, I decided to knit a scarf. I went to the store and chose the color and thickness of the yarn. When I reunited with my friend, she showed me a scarf she had made. We loved the coincidence and proceeded to compare our scarves. This whole situation makes sense.

What doesn’t seem to make sense is why women feel the urge to compare body shapes. I did not sit down and knit together my adenosines and phosphates to my liking.  We need to stop comparing our bodies as if we have the power to create our own.

If we’re being real, real women come in all different sizes. Some women are naturally straight and some are naturally shapely.

When we preach that “real women have curves,” we ignore the notion that we are all predetermined medleys of DNA.

As women, we need to be real. We need to see that we are all doing our best to feel our best.

Ambition is better than complacency. Compassion wins over cruelty. The Schenectady spring is astronomically better than its winter winds. These truths are all self-evident. But as far as I’m concerned, I can’t find the evidence to prove that a size 00 is better than a size 6. I can’t find any universal truths that make 140 pounds better than 98.

We are all so beautifully different. When we focus too much on size, we are wasting time that could be spent feeling great.

We need to disengage from size and reengage with what makes each of us so loveable. A sense of humor, a love for piano, a knack for writing, a love for cats and a killer tennis serve shouldn’t be overlooked. These are the things that make you and all the girls around you truly beautiful.

Our bodies are our homes. They hold our thoughts, quirks and loves. We all want and need to feel vibrant in the bodies that we have.

As I look at what I want out of my life, I want time to be happy. I want to move my legs. I want to run and dance. I want my face in the sun. I want to laugh, eat, write and sing.

None of these things require me to be a certain size, but all of them can make me feel beautiful.


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