Maybe it was Princess Barbie or Ballerina Barbie who prompted me to cast my eyes downward to my stomach only to realize that it was no longer as flat or toned as I remembered. Maybe I was 10? Maybe sooner?
Ten-year-old Megan didn’t have to worry too much about having a stomach like Lizzy McGuire; she was more preoccupied singing an off-key “What Dreams Are Made Of.” My first exposure to the word “diet” was when a classmate’s mother packed her a “Diet Sunny-D” for lunch.
But with the Kardashians ruling social media and the pressures on young girls to always look their best in today’s society, it’s hard not to envision a future made up of anorexic supermodels and super-super-super skinny jeans. However, there’s a glimmer of hope for confidence, and her name is Amy Schumer.
Weight has been a problem that, for most of my life, I’ve struggled with — even if I’ve learned how to expertly hide my insecurities. If a conversation involving weight comes up, I usually joke that my stomach currently looks like the topographic map of Colorado. The comment receives some laughs, distracting me from the fact that I’ve just unintentionally put myself down. I’ve never felt very comfortable in my body for long, constantly fluctuating between the “fat” and “skinny” standards, but never staying on one long enough to accept my weight and move on. With a wardrobe consisting of jeans bigger and smaller than my current size and shirts capable of stretching easily, it’s hard not to look at the numbers.
Last year, the pressures of beginning my time as a University student in difficult courses created low confidence in my academic abilities, which led to eating habits ranging from skipping meals to midnight pantry visits for a fourth meal. I was paranoid of gaining the dreaded “freshman 15” and letting the number on the tag multiply as my meals fluctuated.
I stayed in that funk for almost an entire year until a fellow resident commented that I reminded him or her of Amy Schumer because of my blasé comments about my own size. At the time, I thanked him or her for picking my favorite comedian to represent me and moved back to working on my bowl of sliced pineapple. But recently, Schumer has drawn national attention for her open and honest comments about her relationship with weight (I’m not talking about that Kardashian comment).
My younger sister, Kellen, remains at a size 0 despite the amount of food she practically inhales. (I used to have a theory that our stomachs were swapped when we were younger.) So naturally, shopping was always hard on my self-image when we inevitably headed to the dressing rooms. Outfits I found beautiful would often not fit, and almost anything Kellen tried on would result in a solid “yes” as my “no” pile steadily grew. I was often unable to find clothing that both flattered my body and did justice to my personality. Wanting to look as fashionably savvy as the models on those magazines but without the body for those clothes, I felt like I should fix myself first rather than go up that size or two. Most times, I pulled my sweater back around my shoulders and slid down the mirror of the dressing room, plastering on a fake smile to tell the assistant, “Nope, didn’t find anything.”
The first steps toward fixing this problem for future generations has begun with comedians like Amy Schumer and Rebel Wilson paving the way for style and clothing tailored to fit the person, not the image.
In a serious moment not typical of the critically acclaimed comedian, Schumer becomes emotional, recalling her struggles with self-image in Hollywood and finding clothing that made her feel as confident on the outside as she was on the inside. That is, until the “Trainwreck” star met Leesa Evans on the set, who dressed Schumer in more flattering clothes tailored to compliment her looks, not hide them. Soon, she felt like a professional, beautiful young woman and regained the humor she’s most well known for, referring to her body recently as a “lava lamp.”
Yeah, maybe now I can see the similarities.
Nowadays, I still find myself looking down at my thighs in those tiny lecture seats thinking “Shit, guys. What’s the deal?! You were supposed to stay in those size fives!” And though these thoughts are ever-present, the humor wipes away insecurities as I find the ability to laugh at myself in a positive, healthy way.
Self-image is a problem in today’s progressive society that won’t be fixed by one comedian admitting to her struggles with weight, and I know that. Though we can’t very well expose children to the Schumer’s skits, we could do well to teach confidence and self-respect to young girls, using Schumer as the face behind the revolution, not those that promote weight loss and plasticity. The focus should shift toward being healthy and feeling good on the inside. You can run a mile a day and eat salad all you want, but sometimes, you’ve just gotta treat yo’ self.
And Amy’s right. Khloe should learn to compromise and eat a bagel every once in a while, too.
Megan Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.