But as I got older, I realized fashion magazines run the same articles over and over: how to please your man, how to lose three pounds, I escaped my abusive boyfriend using a paper clip and a text message. One can only read these articles so many times before predicting the end and realizing one has wasted another $4.00 on a magazine.So I stopped reading them.
I think it also helped that I stopped reading these magazines right around the time I was developing actual hobbies: sewing, cooking, baking. These magazines never talked about anything I was actually interested in, but rather focused on going out, drinking, what to do with your girlfriends and how to attract a man--four topics I don't have any need for in my life. I started to feel as if these magazines were no longer meant for my eyes, and honestly, it wasn't offensive. It was just time to move on.
Last year, though, I did start reading xoJane.com, because I'd loved Jane magazine, and it also seemed much more diverse than Slate or the Huffington Post. The writers were real and weren't afraid of being a little harsh or un-ladylike. I've been a big supported, sending emails to my friends and commenting when I felt the need. I really enjoyed it! After being ousted by so many women's magazines, it felt wonderful to read an article and actually agree with what the writer was saying, and not feel like I wasn't being the right kind of woman because I had a differing opinion.
However, yesterday I noticed that more and more articles on xoJane were focused on weight, whether the writer was accepting or not of her size. Very large women and very small women alike were talking about how "fat" they are, looking for support either in coming to terms with it or support with weight loss. Everyday there was a new piece: some focused on newly engaged women, one writer took the opportunity to write about her mother and how she'll never feel hot because of her mom's focus on her own weight. It made me think, is this all we are now? Women have nothing better to do than sit around and pinch the fat on their thighs. We're complaining about the calories in the to-go food we eat because we don't have time to cook. I think low self-esteem is a very serious problem, but when we're looking for support from people we don't know--and those people are giving us support by saying "No! You're beautiful! Have another cookie!"--I can't help but think our problems are more narcissistic than anything else.
Talking about weight and diets isn't interesting. Being on a diet isn't interesting. It may be healthy, or you may need to do it to feel better about yourself, but no one will say you're enthralling when you detail your Jenny Craig diet plan. Food diaries are not entertaining; they are boring.
I also realized that I no longer think about weight or size as much as I used to. I notice when I don't feel great, because I'm bloated or tired or whatever. I went off some medication because it was making me bloated and I felt like Violet Beauregard, but more pink:
But it was my problem. I think I talked to my mom and Nick about it and that was it. I'm not the healthiest eater--I think I ate seven chocolate chip cookies yesterday, because they were delicious and I was tired--but I make dinner every night and pack my lunch everyday. I try to at least be conscious of my decisions, and take responsibility for them.
But even though I don't think about weight or size as much, I will say my measurements are on the forefront of my mind...because I need them to sew. My bust, waist and hips are no longer personal when they're a number on the back of an envelope. I need these measurements to create something with my hands. Patterns exist because clothes are made for all bodies. You may feel "fat" squeezing into something at Macy's Juniors section, but the Colette Iris shorts can be made for your size and can fit perfectly.
Sewing has given me something to focus on besides myself. I embroider, and constantly think, "Who could I give this to?" When I cook and bake, I'm feeding myself, my boyfriend and my friends. These hobbies shifted my mind to creating and making something tangible. I won't say I'm not narcissistic, as I have a Twitter and Facebook account, but instead of complaining about my hips, I'm complaining about my sewing machine skipping stitches, or how I pricked my finger with the hand sewing needle.
I'm not perfect. But I think if people got a hobby that was less about themselves and more about creating something outside themselves, they'd realize there's more out there than weight, dieting and thighs. These hobby communities are incredibly supportive, and you'll never hear a seamstress complain openly about her hips or arms--she's too busy celebrating the clothes she just made, or asking how she could make them better next time. Talking about your weight and dieting is boring. It is! Make something and see how you feel--my guess is your pride will outshine any praise about your body you've gotten from a stranger.