Recently, I was in New York for some engagement sessions. While the shoots were amazing, I had an experience I wanted to share.
Shortly after waking up one morning, I went across the street to a bagel shop for breakfast. Following close behind me was a man and a woman whom definitely drew attention.
She was tall, blonde, skinny, and, from her cheeks bones, to her perfectly straight nose, and plumped lips, she had obviously made several trips to her plastic surgeon. Admittedly, I caught myself staring at her. I wasn’t intending too, but I guess in Kentucky, we don’t see a lot of that. As I realized I was being rude, I intentionally directed my attention elsewhere.
My brief stare hadn’t gone unnoticed, though. The woman behind the counter made eye contact with me and winked. “I KNOW!” She said to me under her breath. I felt my face flush. I wasn’t thinking anything negative about the woman, I just was interested. What had she looked like before? Did she like the way she looks now?
As the woman and her beau paid and exited the store, the worker behind the counter burst into a critique of the woman’s appearance. I couldn’t help but to feel as though my stare had encouraged the conversation that followed.
“She over did it with the surgeries. That did NOT look good. I bet she was pretty before all that, but she CAN’T think that looks good, you know?”
Not wanting to encourage this harsh critique of another woman’s appearance, I just waited for my order, trying not to speak. The worker continued mumbling about this woman’s appearance, until she handed me my sandwich. I left the shop, fearing this conversation would continue and I opted to sit outside where a few others were sitting.
Not long after I found a seat, I overheard hushed whispers, again, about this woman.
“What do you think the story there is?”
“I bet she’s a mail order bride, and he is the sugar daddy paying for her to be plastic.” I heard exchanged.
The people sitting next to me looked over at me, smiling with a knowing look as though I was in on the joke too. In that moment, I felt the internal struggle that most woman feel daily: do I speak my mind, or should I be polite?
I didn’t think it was fair to speak about a woman that way. I have no idea what she has been through, and I don’t need to, because she doesn’t need my approval.
I can’t complain about the way the media criticizes women’s bodies, then do the exact same thing. If I don’t want to be judged by my looks, I can’t judge others by their looks. I have gained a ton of weight since I had a baby, and I worry all the time that people are whispering about my body in a similar manner.
We can’t change the media, but we can change the way we treat others around us. Instead of doing the easy thing and participating in the critique of others, I challenge you to join me in asking them why it matters. This is something I have been consciously doing, and it seems to really put perspective on the situation.Whether it is speaking up for a friend, or just someone on social media, I believe being vocal is the only way we can change this.
We, as women, are in this together. We can’t ask for the media to stop nitpicking our appearances, outlining perfectly normal “flaws”, and telling us what is and isn’t beautiful, then do exactly that to our neighbor.