May 10, 2010

on a few extra words...

Today I received an incredibly honest and thoughtful email from a reader, regarding my most recent post on body image. Because of her willingness to open up and share her own thoughts, I was inspired to write a quick P.S. in case there is anyone else who shared her feelings (and I'm sure there must have been).

In any case, the reader wrote me a very kind and honest email - admitting that a few things I stated in my post hurt her feelings, considering she has a naturally small and slender frame. I want to make sure that anyone else who may have been hurt by my post knows that I was sharing my very personal experience. My very personal struggles. As well as my own, personal triggers (the cover of that catalog being one of them).

I re-read through my post, and I can see how a naturally thin girl may read what I wrote and feel like I was insinuating that a woman without a bit of softness is less "real" - which was honestly not my intention. And not really my feelings at all, come to think of it. Many of my close friends are very slender and tiny women - naturally. And, actually, all of my life (up until my 20's) I was the girl who was incredibly small without trying - hovering around 100 lbs. while a teenager. So, I definitely understand and have experienced the harsh comments of other women who don't have a naturally small frame.

Instead of writing, "I truly believe that women are meant to be soft," I should have written, "Kerri, your body is meant to be soft at this point in your life, and that is lovely."

I'm not bitter towards tiny women, nor do I find them less beautiful. Obviously, if you are healthy, happy and embracing the body you've been blessed with - how could anyone consider you less than beautiful?

However, I do still have issues with the fact that the vast majority of female bodies in the media are incredibly (sometimes unattainably) thin. My reaction to that catalog may have been different if I had opened it up to see the company showcasing a variety of female figures, but I didn't. I don't believe that they showcase bodies like this in magazines and on television to represent yet another beautiful shape of women. It isn't a celebration of the many curves and lines that vary from woman to woman. Instead, they limit our view to include that one specific standard. That one specific shape. And that is what makes it difficult for those of us who are still healthy, but in no way could reach that size without drastically altering our lives.

Still, the thought of having made any woman feel excluded or less that beautiful truly makes me ache - and I want to clarify that it was not the point of my original post. I think that in writing about my own struggles and such, I may have written in a way that could be misunderstood. I've experienced backlash after writing about my body image before - but I think that it's because when you write about something like this, it's a very personal thing. It's hard for me to write about it and keep every single person in mind - because, of course, I haven't lived in everyone else's shoes. If I write about my struggles to reach my "goal weight", someone is going to feel like I'm attacking women who are larger than me. If I write about embracing the extra ten pounds and celebrating curves that appeared in my 20's, I'm sure there is going to be someone who will feel excluded from my praise.

When it comes down to it, I think that it's important for everyone to simply love themselves. Learn to avoid the things that bring you down. Focus on being healthy as you can be, but don't forget to spoil yourself with mass amounts of chocolate when you need to. All shapes are beautiful - and I apologize if anyone has thought my words ever implied otherwise.

As always, I'm open to responses and emails regarding the things I've written! I don't shy away from feedback, as long as it is honest, kind and presented in a way that isn't just someone looking for a fight. I appreciate that the reader who emailed me took the time to open my eyes to something I hadn't noticed! If anyone has any further stories to share, please feel free to comment on this post, or email me directly.

33 comments :

  1. "That's not to say that the girls who are naturally tiny aren't feminine or beautiful - of course they are."

    That was in the original post, and I thought that clarified things pretty well. I'm sorry that someone felt hurt by your post, but I don't think you have anything to apologize for, really. What you wrote was beautiful.

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  3. I just really want to let you know how much you've inspired me. I look up to you a super ton! I'm in the same boat as you, just a few years before hand. I've hated my body my entire life.. I've always been that "soft" body type. I know I'm not fat, but it's been a constant battle to be what the media tells me to be. You've honestly taught me a lot through your blogs.. a lot about being happy, accepting myself, and being a better person in general. So I really want to thank you for sharing YOUR particular life.. it's really helped out a ton with mine. :)

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  4. I also agree with Kristan.. I saw that in the original post and thought that pretty much set the record straight. Don't ache over it!

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  5. I completely agree with all of your posts on self-image. I used to be naturally thin, but after having four babies my body is now, "soft." (I think I'll steal that phrase! I have avoided blogging about weight, etc.. because whenever I complain about the weight I've gained, feeling fat, etc.. people who are bigger always feel like I'm criticizing them. When, in reality, I feel fat in comparison to what I was before the baby weight, not in comparison to them.
    I always appreciate your honesty, though, and love reading your posts! :)

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  6. I hope this is on topic.

    Sometimes I get annoyed at the backlash against thin models. Not the models where you can see their spines and ribcages, but just the typical thin models featured in most catlogues and magazines. Because honestly? I *want* to look like that. And I don't think I have an unhealthy obsession or anything. If I let myself become naturally soft, I don't get soft all over (many girls do, and it's lovely) -- I end up looking like the kids in Africa with skinny arms and legs and bloated bellies (which is pretty much my current state). I think I would look best with my current body (which is thin), only tighter. But I definitely agree there should be more size diversity in the media. Just not a backlash against thin. Ya know?

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  7. I don't think your original post was offensive, & I think your intent was clear - to reflect on your own body. Nonetheless, I appreciate the extra words & the extra lengths you went to to alleviate concerns of readers who may have felt alienated. Just proves that you're as nice as I already suspected you were. ;)

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  8. Oh hurrah, I love conversations and feedback like that, where thoughts are explored and issues can be openly and honestly discussed WITHOUT the need to be nasty and horrible. Lovely follow up post, hey. Your clarification was much appreciated :)

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  9. I love your posts on body image. I don't comment much, but I love them anyway. They're personal and relatable (wait, is that a word?), and thus, I guess, controversial. But they make me think, especially your latest post, and I appreciate that.

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  10. Glamour magazine got so much positive feedback from an "oversize" model that they have been making a conscious effort to literally include and show off EVERY body type. It's wonderful. I think more people need to support this magazine, because they are trying to change the media's perception of this issue! Woot!

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  11. You know I'm tiny and I DO get offended over the "real women have curves!" crap.

    But I wasn't offended by your post in the slightest. I could tell that it was about YOUR struggle to accept your (gorgeous) self. Don't worry about it.

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  12. I think both this and the original post are sincere and beautiful.

    Sometimes I worry about my "softness" but most of the time I try to embrace it and see myself as gorgeous - it's posts like yours that help encourage women (of ALL sizes) to love themselves

    Thank you

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  13. After reading your last post I've tried, and so far succeeded, to take what you said on board.

    Walking around my university today, I had a huge sense of 'self'; I didn't compare myself to slimmer girls, as I usually do, instead I celebrated them alongside me - some girls were petite and delicate, others tall and slender. Some were soft and curvy, others were strong and sporty. We are all different, and it's amazing. Today I thought everyone I saw was beautiful in their own way, and I was just as beautiful as them.

    Diversity is what makes us all so special - let's celebrate it!

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  14. The way you handled this is excellent!

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  15. I didn't comment on your last post, but I read it and loved it. Sometimes I don't post because I feel what I say might be kind of trashy-australian by comparison to your lovely, beautifully written words.
    But tonight, I ate snacks with my dad while watching survivor and did not consider the calorie intake. I lost a lot of weight over Christmas when I got sick, and it's stayed off for the last five months, and I've been paranoid about putting it back on. And while the concept of it still kind of terrifies me, if I'm counting calories of everything I eat then it's taking away the enjoyment of the food.
    And if you can't enjoy a cupcake, then what is the point of waking up in the mornings?

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  16. I think your original post was very beautifully said- and so is this. Your blog is very clearly about your experiences, and I didn't feel like any part of you feeling positive about yourself was a jab at girls with different body types, for what it's worth =)

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  17. This is just simply amazing of you.every word that was said was very sincere.Like this.

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  18. I enjoy reading your "deep thoughts" posts, and it never fails that we have the same point of views. I hope you are doing well, Miss K. Love you!

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  19. I wasn't put off by your last post at all, but I am also in a similar place in my life and going through some of the same things as you are. Now I have to go back through my older posts where I talked about my body image issues and dissect the things I said, in hopes I didn't offend anyone. =X

    You did make an excellent point in that you were speaking from your own experiences and perspective. Not stepping on toes has to be the most difficult part about blogging. I know I have to anger people!

    You always make me proud with how you respond with such kindness, tact and humility. Well done. :)

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  20. This is very well written but it makes me a little sad that you had to write it. I read your original post and I didn't think that you said anything offensive. This is your blog. It should be understood that you're writing about your experiences and your life from your point of view. It's not your responsibility to write about women and body image in general. If you choose to do so, great, but you made it very clear that you were writing about yourself. I don't know, I guess it just annoys me that people are so quick to be offended. I feel like it makes people hesitate before posting - it removes a degree of honesty from blogging because people are too afraid of the backlash to post what they really feel. I enjoy your honesty and your writing. Keep up the good work :)

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  21. While I agree with the commenters who said your post didn't seem offensive, and that you shouldn't have to be accountable to us for what you write, I love that you chose to embrace the reader's thoughtful criticism as an opportunity to have some discourse / clarification / insight on the topic, instead of arguing petty, ego-driven points.

    See, this is why women should rule the world. :)

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  22. I think your original post was just an honest sharing of how *YOU* feel. Sure, not everyone will agree. I love that you owned up to the fact that someone called you on some things, and all without being rude or judgmental.
    You see things the way you do because everyone experiences life a little differently. I have a little more than just "softness" to me and I honestly never want to be super thin, but I am ALWAYS self-conscious of my weight. I feel that women who are thinner than me view me as ugly or big fat cow (which I know I am not). I can't stand to shop in stores where I have to buy a Large or X-Large, I feel I'm not worthy enough to shop there. I'm not worthy enough to wear the cute tank tops because I have some arm flabby.
    When talking to people I sit with my hand under my chin to hold in that 2nd chin.
    So when I see that people don't express that all body types are beautiful it only enhances that self-consciousness. It makes me feel to to see that we all have our body image demons. I just wish we'd all be as honest as you are. I wish we could learn to stop comparing and start appreciating, not only ourselves, but everyone around us.
    I heart your blog!!

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  23. I thought your original post was wonderful and I didn't get the vibe that you were "hatin'" on slender girls, but more accepting yourself. I've been having the same struggle. I don't have the same slender body I had when I was in my early 20s (I'm 27 now) and I need to quit wishing and forcing my body to be like that again. Some of my good friends are little "skinny minnies" and I caught myself being envious of them until we had a heart to heart and found out that they wished they were more curvy. So I guess, we all want what we can't have in some way or another.

    Nonetheless, yay for you and self acceptance and helping other girls do the same!

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  24. Yeah, I knew this post was about you and YOUR personal experience. I have to admit that I think it's silly people get "hurt" and "offended" if they are naturally slim. I have a hard time thinking slim people are unhappy with themselves. Lol, but this is coming from someone who has been overweight the last year or two (until recently).

    Anyway, not sure what I'm trying to say. Just that I knew you were talking about yourself. :)

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  25. I have never commented on your body image posts, because I was afraid of offending you! I am a tiny person. I have always been a tiny person. And believe it or not, tiny people are capable of having body issues too.

    I look at other women with more curves on them, and I wonder if my husband ever stares at them and wishes I had more boob and butt to boast of. I have a hard time finding adult clothes and shoes in my size, because they are made for WOMEN.

    And in middle school, I hated it when my classmates would compare themselves to me, and would put themselves down because they were taller, and had curves, and actual thighs and hips to speak of. I never talk about my weight, because I hated how other girls felt worse about themselves when they heard that number.

    I HATED it. With a fiery passion. Please, ladies, don't EVER compare yourself to a skinny girl in a way that makes you feel worse about yourself. She'll end up feeling worse about HERself, because she ISN'T bigger than she is. Than you'll both be unhappy with who you are, and what good does that do?

    And those are my candid thoughts on the subject. I also wanted to say that I'm so glad that you love who you are. You end up drawing people to you because you are so strong and confident, and you make them feel the same way. :)

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  26. I think that no matter the body shape, body image can still be an issue. I love that you chose to address the reader's comment in such an insightful and clarifying manner. It's why we keep on reading!

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  27. I love the previous post, and agree that you don't have anything to apologise for. You are a beautiful person.

    Also, I have a request. I am interested in photography but have no idea where to start and I adore the photos you take. I would love love LOVE it if you could do a post on all the little tip and tricks you have learnt along the way (I know you will get all modest and say that you "aren't that great", but I think you are) I would be forever grateful cos I honestly have no idea where to start, even with what camera to buy. PLEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASE!!
    :)

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  28. I'm a naturally thin person, and I wasn't offended by what you said at all. I'm used to people making comments like "Eat a cheeseburger, why don't you?" or "You're cold? Put some meat on your bones." As if eating an apple pie would replace a sweater. But I totally understood what you meant about being soft and I think you're completely right!!

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  29. I'm naturally thin, too. In fact I'm almost 30 and I weigh 110 lbs, my mom was the same way.

    I think that thin people just want people to know that it's just as hurtful to walk up to them and say, "Oh man, you're so skinny!" as it would be to say, "Oh man, you are fat!" to someone heavy.

    I've gone through phases where the comments people make have bothered me or made me feel like I was doing something wrong and I tried to gain weight- including a cheese fry diet that gave me high cholesterol! So I can relate to your post, we're all struggling to accept our bodies, it's not just a curvy girl thing.

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  30. Your main point was perfect- to just love and respect yourself and your own body.

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  31. I always struggle with body image too, Kerri, and I don't think your last post was meant to attack girls who are naturally thin. I'm pretty small really, but to call myself naturally thin, I doubt it. I try my darnest not to gain weight. When I start working, I work out less and it makes me gain one or two pounds I don't want and believe me, I feel like punishing myself. Then I read your body image acceptance post and I like it. I may will try and try to lose weight and stay thin but I should not be so harsh on myself.

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  32. I loved the original post... and I agree with quite a lot of the comments here too. We're all so different. I'm envious of people OF ALL SIZES who love their shape and size and quirks - THAT is what I aspire to be one day. Content in my own skin.

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  33. Such a wonderful post! No matter what size you are, you should be loved for who you are and what's on the inside. I'm quite tiny for my age and I hear people tell me that being tiny automatically equals healthy. It frustrates me, because that's not the case. I can't run a mile without feeling like I'm going to die. I know plenty of girls who are "soft" and can out do me. Us tiny women have plenty of body issues as well. Just ask any of us!

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