The Shape of You

Recently, there was a halftime show at the Super Bowl which caused a stir. Albeit, there is seldom a halftime show at the Super Bowl which doesn’t cause a stir, but I digress. I don’t care a lot about sports. There. I said it. My daughter and husband are really into tennis; anything which involves physical exertion and the threat of injury intrigues my son, but sports has never been my thing. It may stem from all the years in elementary and then secondary school where I had to sit out PE class because of my asthma, or it could be deeply rooted in my otherwise sedentary nature. We may never know. So, usually when there is a sporting event, I don’t care too much what is going on unless there is a sort of performance.

Super Bowl halftime shows rarely disappoint as budget-blowing sequin-infused pyrotechnic displays of excellence. There is the occasional boob or, more recently, political message and all in all the Super Bowl and everything it encompasses is a perfect representation of the all-American ideal. The nature of the conversation surrounding this year’s Super Bowl LI halftime show is, as usual, sex-centered. In case you missed it, Lady Gaga performed and the internet got mad. The internet didn’t stir to action because of her stand against current American politics, the internet became incensed because of Lady Gaga’s stomach.

Discussion surrounding what Lady Gaga does has never been something short of, well, colorful. One thing I love about her is her give-zero attitude toward what anyone thinks. I remember when she first came out there was an interview where she talked about how she was employed playing the piano at this bar and no one was paying any attention to her so she got up, stripped down to her underwear and continued. I think that was when I began to like Lady Gaga. Somewhere between there and the caution tape she became an international household name. Recently, she has given up the outlandish get-ups and favored a more subdued form of style (at least for her).

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Lady Gaga could care less what people think about her body. What spurred me to this forum of discourse, however, is the fact that so many people have a problem with what she looked like. I’m not going to lie. I recently saw the candid snapped of me at the beach (up there at the top of this post) and wanted to die. Everything about the photo was pretty much okay, except the whole stomach thing. I immediately vowed to give up carbs and head on back to spin class. How dare I have a stomach flap.

Spoiler alert: bodies are what they are. 

Learning to love yourself is something that one cannot learn without example. As children, we heard our mothers complain about their weight; we watched women in Spandex contort themselves on aerobic VHS cassettes; there was the Thigh Master… Currently there is no shortage of fat-burning or fat-hiding paraphernalia. From Fit Tea to the reimagining of the corset (read: waist-trainer), women are trying to find every way to fix their bodies without actually fixing themselves.

Now, this photo I hate of myself I would have never posted on the world wide web if it weren’t for seeing Lady Gaga and her own betrayal of tummy. Watching her feel no shame in bearing all made me realize that I pick on myself while picking over images for good angles for no good reason. Of course my stomach looks horrible here– I’m bending over under a tree. Another spoiler alert: bodies are squishy, even the most svelte. The outcry from naysayers on the internet over Lady Gaga’s body was something which made me question what it really is we hold as a true beauty standard. What more do people want from celebrities? What is perfection? Britney Spears’ body is one melt down, two kids and twenty years older yet people expect her to look like she did when she was a flat-tummied sixteen year old. Someone was upset at Jennifer Garner for having three kids and not participating in the celebrity “snap back” trend.

There will be no change in our bodies if we don’t change how we perceive ourselves and the language we use when discussing others. Overall, lifestyle is the real way to combat whatever body woes you may have. Unless you make a conscious change to see yourself through eyes not tainted with ridicule, then you won’t be happy with what you look like. Ever. 

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