by Celiya Koster
This article is featured in issue two which you can preorder here.
Amy Winehouse, Diana Ross, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey. What do all these women have in common, apart from being talented, strong, authentic and beautiful? All these women at some point in their lives have been reported to suffer with eating disorders. Maybe reading this doesn’t surprise you, but that’s exactly what is so surprising. Women can seemingly have it all: be smart, skilled and influential, and still have a desire to shrink and shred themselves. Where does the obsession to hollow out our cheekbones and ribs stem from?
We are taught from a young age that to be a woman is to be submissive and weak. As we work to unlearn these thoughts how is it that we keep returning to patterns of dieting, starving and puking to regain control? It seems we are trying to reclaim power whilst simultaneously giving it up. This issue is largely unspoken about. What does it suggest when a huge number of strong female role models are watching their weight, avoiding carbs and exercising control through intake?
I have a friend who is an amazing cook. She makes a buffet of food for her guests, then doesn’t eat. This seems to demonstrate how women are taught from puberty to nurture others but not themselves. Sometimes it is as if we are making room for the men in our lives the only way we know how, the only way we are taught to.
The issue of women owning space through their bodies comes up time and time again
The issue of women owning space through their bodies comes up time and time again, so how can people continue to suggest that gender is no longer a big issue? It seems that our bodies are so burdened by gendered expectations that even the strongest minds can turn against themselves. Weight control is inherited, passed down from generation to generation. Women are taught to grow inward while men are taught to grow outward.
In the end there is still hope. There is knowing we are worthy and deserve space for our bodies. There is screaming it every day until you believe it to be true. Organisations such as Endangered Bodies fight to free women from body hatred, asking people to love and accept themselves. To do so is a dare; a scary, radical thing. But I dare you anyway, to love your body and most of all to love it unapologetically. We women have said sorry in far too many ways for far too long!