By now, I’m used to the comments I get on my extremely tiny hands. My mother says it’s because I’m always typing away at a keyboard or phone screen. (This is where she and my grandmother make deformed typing gestures with their fingers. The comments get even worse and more hilarious when I say my hands are freezing.) The very first comment on my tiny hands came from one of my closest friends whom I met in college. Then, they just started coming. People I’ve known – and people I’ve just met would (awkwardly) grab my hands and match it to theirs and say things like, “Woooaaahhh. They’re smaller than mine.” Even my driving instructor once asked, “What wedding ring is going to fit on these fingers?”
Those comments are fun. I always get a good laugh, but the other day, what came after the usual comment got me thinking…and writing this.
I was sitting with a friend and her friend around campus when two of our acquaintences stopped by. One thing led to another, and the conversation went from some weird, don’t-say-this-in-front-of-my-mother talk to my tiny hands.
“Wow. They are tiny. You don’t look it, though,” one of them said, glancing at my hands and then at me.
Ladies and gents, that is a subtle comment on your weight/your build/your structure/your features. I know she did not conciously want to make a subtle comment like that, but it happened. I know she probably did not mean it as a way to call me huge or “big” as opposed to my “tiny” hands. Nonetheless, it is these comments that the hidden, body-critic “being” (so to speak) feeds on.
I think we all have this devillish “creature” brewing in us, except some are able to keep it in check more than others. This is the creature that has us looking in the mirror and seeing things that aren’t really there. (You know what? So what if these “features” are there? Congratulations. You’re a flawed human – you probably don’t want to be human while Trump is running for president, but congrats, nonetheless.) This is the creature that criticizes you for looking the way you do wearing what the flawless mannequin was wearing. This is the creature that wants you to change your hair color, your eye color, your height, your breasts, your buttock, and anything else that is changeable because “that is beauty. Not you.”
Sometimes, you overcome this creature. You push it all the way in the back with every nagging, criticizing, second-guessing voice…until you get subtle – and sometimes, not so subtle comments (Thanks to the people who do not mind their business.) You (hopefully) and I don’t like subtle and not-so-subtle comments.
When it comes to body image (and lots of other things that are subject to critcism and bullying by others and ourselves), we need to be accepting. We need to embrace what is or isn’t there. We need to believe that we can shut down the “creature” in our heads for good, and we can leave the comments far behind in a place where the “creature” cannot even take a whiff of them yet alone feed on them.
As humans, we have a tendency to bully ourselves. We are so quick to fall out of love with ourselves before we even get to know who we are. We can point fingers at the fathers that weren’t there, the mothers that didn’t know any better, the friends that aren’t friends, the media, Trump…the list goes on, but at the end of the list, it is our reflection in the mirror that we’re pointing at.
Point at yourself with acceptance. Point at yourself with love. Point at yourself with wanting to be the best you can in a world that never ceases to judge.