Let's just discuss this whole Jessica Simpson Gets Fat thing. Clearly, we'll need some fine cutlery, because by now there's not much left to pick over. Every body part has been verbally frisked, dissed, drop-kicked around the Internet, and parodied up the BMI charts, from her "mom jeans" roll to her "pumped full of preservatives" breasts (not to mention the manky teeth, farts, and napalm vajayjay).
But If the poor girl has caused Belly-Gate while trying to do a reality show about the price of beauty, it all seems to be paying off. She hit the media circuit this week-from Ellen DeGeneres to Jay Leno to the cover of Marie Claire sans makeup-still flaunting her curves with spunky confidence.
As a body-image "challenged" person myself (cellulite-crazed, weight gainer, anorexic, throw in a little substance abuse, all the usual), I'd love nothing more than to love my love handles and honor my temple, despite what anyone thinks. I know that I-we-have better things to do than obsess about looks. And I get it that my DNA belongs to an entirely different species than Simpson's (who's stunning at any weight). So why do I expect to attack my body with a grapefruit spoon and reconfigure my genes?
Since a good breakthrough often comes from asking the right questions, I've rounded up a few to consider in case you care to join me as we think about bathing suit season:
1. What are you not doing because of the way you look? That's the first question that Jane Delgado, PhD, author of a new book The Latina Guide to Health asks her patients with eating disorders and body dissatisfaction issues. So, have you declined a pool party invite? Died in long pants on a hot summer's hiking date? Not enjoyed sex because your mind was on, "Will he be grossed out by my butt flab?" And are these trades worth it? "I'm a plus size," says Delgado. "I wear a bikini. Why? It's my own statement. I'm comfortable. I like being out in the ocean. And I want to feel that water all over my body, not through Lycra."
2. Who's body is it anyway? As our own Jessica Ashley wrote a few months ago, Jessica Simpson could still learn here. When the singer told Allure magazine she'd never do nudity, even if she could get an Oscar for it, saying, "I don't think people deserve to see what's under my clothing. That's only for my next husband-ha-ha-ha," Shine's Ashley wrote, "Ohhhhh, Jessica Simpson, you were on such a streak. It's not that the world needs to see you naked, nor that you are in any way wrong for wanting to keep your body under wraps. It's that your body is not your future husband's ...Your body is your own."
3. Do you value individuality? Would you prefer to live in a cookie-cutter home or design your own? Do you dress like everyone else, or have a standout style? If you do appreciate an original, why not apply it to your body? Check out wild variety of female frontage at the Normal Breast Gallery for inspiration.
5. Would you tell your 7-year-old daughter, "Cover up, you don't want to cause visual pollution?" Never! So how can you say it to yourself? We all have that little girl inside ourselves. And if you really do have a child, she's not going to believe your assurances that she's beautiful just the way she is. Kids have X-ray vision when it comes to seeing through what "mommy says" to what "mommy does."
6. Are you a victim of the media? "Is the Pope Catholic?" comes to mind. Of course, we're all affected. But victim? What if we say no to that? Poor body image, says James Huysman, PsyD, a Miami psychologist, "usually boils down to low self-esteem from the way we grew up, for which there's just not a quick fix. We're so used to the Dr. Phil message, 'I can do this in three seconds.' Sorry, the truth is, to heal in life is a big responsibility; it's torture. But it can be done. And whether you do it through therapy, yoga, meditation, or some other method, you've got to take charge. Once you do, you're on your way to confidence."
Hey, have you had any plus-size Aha! Moments on how to change the internal "I hate my body" tape?
For more ideas on loving your body...
[Photo Credit: Getty Images/Neilson Barnard]