Alternate Title: Women Are Not Chattle
It's widely known that women's bodies have been considered a topic of public debate throughout history. I understand this phenomena to stem from the fact that men thought of females as property rather than humans throughout most of history. I'd like to think that's changed, but I don't. Especially when I walk past the many magazines targeted at women (namely, mothers) in the check out stands preaching about the newest trend in "health" for women. We all know what "health" means, ladies. And it's not about BMI.
There are an abundance of ads on the side of my facebook and search engine screens screaming at me: lose weight, look less haggard, have a firmer butt...I guess it makes sense that a 30 year old lady would be a target market, especially one with kids, and I do sign up for healthy newsletters and track my run apps, but those ads just drive me crazy. And here's why: They keep me from being content.
And that's what advertisers, companies want, right? To make you feel like you need their product, or could benefit from it. And many people do benefit or are happy they tried this or that product. I'm not trying to make those of you who use products to help you reach your goals feel bad. But here's the thing: I don't need those things, and I can't really afford them. I lost weight when I realized I was obese by eating better, working out daily and drinking water. I don't need your shit; I just need basic self control because I'm a marginally healthy young woman.
I won't lie, somedays (when I'm on a depressive cycle, especially) I don't have the willpower to keep from chocolate. Take this last month. I was house-bound from a health issue. I couldn't run, couldn't workout and was depressed. Donuts may not have helped the situation, as delicious as they were. I found myself tempted to click on those ads. Maybe those expensive supplements will help me maintain my weight since I can't work out. I quickly closed my computer.
Those things never work for me because I like food. Love it. Depend on chocolate. The ONLY thing that works for me is activity. It keeps me at a healthy weight, keeps my energy stablized and keeps my moods close to neutral. And that's a huge deal for someone who has Bipolar Disorder. Living as an active person makes me more sane, and I love that.
But I don't click on those adds because I want to be more sane or even more healthy. I click on them because I'm bogged down by the desire to be "younger," "sexier," "skinny," and "tone." Where does this desire come from? My husband thinks I'm beautiful, desireable and sexy. He tells me that all the time. Who else matters, really? My entire childhood life, I was chubby. Was I unhappy? Not when I was in a normal state of mind, no. Because I stopped caring what people thought about me the first time a boy called me a fat ogre. If he was the type of person who was interested in hanging out with a "skinny" version of me, then the hell with it. I didn't want people like that around. I'm happy that was my outlook. I know not everyone is lucky, and some have a harder time with criticism.
But, lately, I haven't been that person, either. Now that I've maintained an average weight, I suddenly have the urge to care about what people like that think of my body, my shell. People see the 60 pound lighter version of me and they say, "You look great." They are being nice. Friends, family, strangers, don't think I'm angry about your compliments. I treasure the support. I feel great, so thanks. I'm not mad about the people who notice that I feel better, get around better, have an easier time with my Bipolar Disorder. Their compliments stem from pride and love.
Here's what I don't like: I don't like the ads that show up on my social network because I sign up for 5ks. I don't like the messages from the masagonist assholes who say, "Wow, you're hott. U wanna meet up, girl?" I don't want to be the person getting healthy for the sake of other people. I want my daughter and son to understand that they are beautiful in every way, no matter what. And the only thing that should motivate a change in their diet and exercise is their well being. Period.
I am not your product, people. And masagonist a-holes, I am not interested in your praise. My body is none of your business, and I do not seek your approval or disapproval. I certainly don't seek disgusting commentary. Again my body is not your business. So stop making a business model from the forced desires pushed into women's phyches. I can walk up the stairs and not be in pain. I can play with my kids, race them, lift them and take them on hikes, and that's what I want to be proud of. I wish I could make the ads stop. I wish that this post would shoo the perverts away, but that's not going to happen.
I can only control the actions of one person, and that person is me. That person is fully recovered from her injury and is gonna go on a nice jog. And I'm gonna do it because I love the sound of my feet against gravel, the steady pumping of blood sounding in my ears and the pride I feel when I push past the burn. I'm going to close the computer and put the ads to sleep, so I can work on me. I hope all you lovely women and men have a wonderful, healthy life. And I hope that you are healthy for the pure joy of it, for your benefit and not for the benefit of others.
H.M Jones is the author of B.R.A.G Medallion Honor and NIEA finalist book Monochrome, its prequel Fade to Blue, the Adela Darken Graphic Novellas, Al Ravien's Night, The Immortals series, and several short stories.