Lately, I’ve been seeing an influx of “motivational” statements and imagery on various social networking websites declaring why one group of people is better than another (seemingly opposite) group. You’ve most likely seen them on Facebook, perhaps on your favorite blog – they’re the “inspirational” messages that diss one type of person in order to celebrate another. When did it become not enough to just declare your own awesomeness without having to subtly or covertly reject and put down other people? I’m not digging this trend and here’s why: there’s no way you can truly and authentically feel better about yourself while simultaneously knocking someone else down – no matter how well-meaning the intention behind it. Not sure which messages I’m referring to? See below.
Here’s one you probably recognize, it’s been all over the web. At first, I kinda liked it, it made sense. But now, it doesn’t make me feel good because what runs through my mind when I see this is, “How does this make a skinny gal feel when she reads this? Probably, it makes her feel like shit.”
The image below is a backlash to the first photo. So, what – now curvy, thick and bigger people in general are all unhealthy? The back and forth insults could go on forever – and this is one of the problems with this type of motivational message – they WILL go back and forth forever. That can’t be healthy, right? Seems like the back and forth nit-picking takes up some mental energy that I’d rather be using for having fun and being more awesome.
More fun insults in the name of “empowerment”…
…and rest assured, the battle isn’t just between skinny and bigger gals – why not pit thin girls against the “fit” ones, too? (and just for the record, I consider myself fit, and I look damn good in my favorite Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, pencil skirts, jeans, etc. – I love clothes and I look good in them, too dammit!)
But you see, this fun little craze doesn’t just stop at the body image-related messages. I recently saw this one and it’s actually the image that incited my desire to write this piece. Now don’t get me wrong – I love someecards.com and normally think they are funny as hell – but this one is LAME. It’s subtle, but at its core, it delivers the same sentiment as the other messages. Why do tattoos need to be denigrated as lowly bumper stickers? Following this logic then, I am apparently either an ill-favored Chrysler K Car or really nice, pretty Ferrari that I’ve decided to desecrate with a collage of ramshackle bumper stickers. And just for the record, if in this context, people asked me why I have tattoos, I’d say, “I like factory paint, but I chose a custom paint job for my ’66 Camaro.” Yep.
Ok, ok– I get why people feel compelled to post these types of messages, I do. It’s completely normal to want to feel good about our unique, different and sometimes quirky selves. Especially when those unique, different or quirky selves are selves that have been made fun of, shamed or made to feel inferior – it’s like after living a lifetime feeling inferior, we finally find a group of people that understand us and celebrate us even. People in general have a basic need to feel that who they are EXACTLY AS THEY ARE is okay, desirable, even…but it doesn’t have to go so far as to make yourself out to be the “best” out of everyone and put other people down. We are all beautiful, dammit! We don’t need to compare and contrast, we don’t need to pit people with differences against each other – NO ONE WINS BY BRINGING OTHER PEOPLE DOWN. Period.
Take a look at the following images and tell me: do these photos bring you a different, deeper sense of feelin’ good? Like the feeling that no matter what, you’re pretty fuckin’ great? No matter if you gain or lose 20 lbs, no matter if you have straight blonde or curly black hair, no matter if you have dark or light skin, no matter if have a skinny ass or a phat ass, no matter if you’re seeing your first signs of crow’s feet or you’re seeing your fiftieth wrinkle– you will remain awesome because you’re YOU.
If, for some reason you have a negative reaction to any of the images above, or find yourself questioning how anyone could think that ALL bodies are beautiful, then maybe it’s time to ask yourself some questions about why you have that reaction. It’s hard to dig deep, and it can be uncomfortable to look inside at your deepest beliefs, but trust me, it’s so worth it in the end when you can look upon the world (and yourself!) with clearer vision and gentler, more accepting eyes. It is a myth to buy into the idea that there is one superior type of beauty or personality type – so let’s stop it! When genuine acceptance and respect become paramount, that’s when the world becomes a truly beautiful place to live in – for all of us. It’s also when we as individuals become our most beautiful selves – Love lights you from within like no cosmetic, self-tanner or stupid, insulting, “inspirational” message can!