Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Age 22

In a world where size-zero models with flawless skin, hair and makeup are considered ideal, it’s no wonder I oftentimes feel inadequate. It’s hard to feel comfortable in my own skin when I’m too busy comparing myself to other women, wishing I inherited their slim build, tiny waist and fuller bust. But this just doesn’t do any good; it’s time to embrace who I am.

But just because I’m not a clone of a size zero “Project Runway” model who has just returned from the L’Oréal Paris hair and makeup room does not mean that I’m any less of a woman. I’m still a woman, but not just any woman; I’m a woman who is proud of her less-than-“ideal” body, a body which can do all the things a so-called “ideal” body can.

Women must realize that we offer the world so much more than just our bodies. There’s more to us than our physical appearance. What about a woman’s generosity? Kindness? Intelligence? Humility? Aren’t these qualities more important than the number on a label sewed inside a pair of jeans?

I’d rather be known, valued and remembered as the woman who puts others ahead of herself, who plays three instruments, (clarinet, saxophone and guitar), and who knows which element of the periodic table has the atomic number of 17, (it’s chlorine), than a woman who only offers the world her so-called “smoking-hot” body and nothing else.

We must be ourselves. We must not change who we are; we are who we are. We must not put ourselves down and we must not allow others to drag us down just because we don’t fit some arbitrary “standard.” Who sets these “standards” anyway, and what gives them the authority to do so? Why do these “standard setters” frown upon women who don’t, in their myopic minds, have the proportions of a Barbie doll?

I know that I don’t fit these so-called “standards” and never will, but it doesn’t bother me in the least. I’m an individual who doesn’t see the need to starve myself and spend every waking hour at the gym, just so I can say that I can fit into size zero jeans and an extra small t-shirt from a trendy mall store.

I’ll never have the perfect waist-to-hip ratio, blemish-free complexion and little to no body fat, a body in which these “standard setters” consider “ideal.” (Don’t these people realize that body fat is necessary for the proper functioning of the body? I guess they were too focused on their appearance rather than paying attention in biology class.)

Listen up, “standard setters,” I have news for you. Not all women who can’t fit into a pair of size zero jeans and don’t have your so-called “ideal” body are lazy gluttons with no self- control. I, for one, have PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome, an endocrine disorder that affects the entire body, not just the ovaries.

Because of PCOS, I’m going to battle my weight for the rest of my life, as this disorder makes maintaining a stable body weight extremely difficult, due to high levels of the pancreatic hormone insulin. I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this disorder; it’s most likely genetic and the underlying cause is not under my control.

I’ve gained and lost the same 25 pounds (and then some) since I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 17, and unfortunately, I’ll probably be playing the “weight game” forever. PCOS causes other problems with the body, like unrelenting acne, and even more concerning, high cholesterol, irregular menstruation, and a much higher risk of Type II diabetes.

So, “standard setters,” I’ll never have the body you think is “ideal,” nor do I want your “ideal” body. Instead of trying to attain your “ideal” body in which you hold in such high esteem, I’m trying to attain as healthy a body as I can. Try living one day with my body, a body that you deem “worthless,” a body that needs medication in order to menstruate, regulate cholesterol levels, and lower insulin. I dare you.