Body Confidence. Also, Please Stop It.

This morning, while sipping my coffee and perusing the internet, I came across this headline on an MSN article:

“How To Get Cameron Diaz’s Arms”

It was next to the accompanying article “How To Get Abs Like Beyonce.”

This bugs me. But why should it? After all, these are articles that are meant to be inspiring to women everywhere to get in shape and be fitter, healthier and (in theory) generally happier with themselves. It’s not the reason behind the articles that bothers me so much, its the method.

Why can’t those “aspirational” headlines be more actualized and less sensationalized. I’m never going to have Cameron Diaz’s arms, Beyonce’s abs, or Jennifer Lopez’s butt. Why must we be beaten over the head with these bullshit aspirations to look like women who, let’s be honest, WE WILL NEVER LOOK LIKE. It does us, as women, a huge disservice to encourage us to reach unrealistic goals. We should be encouraged to be ourselves, be beautiful as we are and own our flaws. It’s not the perfect bits that make us beautiful. Its our flaws that make us unique and therein lies each and every woman’s own beauty. Let’s stop clicking on those links, stop buying those magazines, just STOP supporting the ridiculousness of all this until the magazine and website publishers who perpetuate these articles start offering us articles that inspire us to be the best of ourselves, not the impossibility of being “just like” someone else.

***Silly thought that popped into my head when I read that headline: Cameron Diaz’s arms would look really funny on me. I have a bigger frame than she does. If my arms were as thin as hers, I’d look like I had twigs stuck out of my shoulders and except for Madonna – no one wants that.***

But seriously, for once, I would like to see an article with a more realistic approach and headline “How to Be the BEST YOU THAT YOU CAN BE” would be nice. Or maybe “How to Be Fit and Healthy, Taking Into Consideration Your Own Body Frame.” I suppose those headlines just aren’t attention grabbing. Though for the ladies that I know who are learning to be comfortable in their own skins, I think they would be.

Every woman’s magazine, fashion magazine and online beauty site constantly tells us we have to look like someone else. And it’s infuriating.

I work out just about every day. I do. I’m proud of the body I have achieved and I work hard at making it the best it can be. But I also have problem areas that genetically speaking are never going to be perfect. And that’s okay. Yeah, sometimes it bugs me that no matter how many dumbbell curls or tricep extensions I do, my upper arms always look flabbier than I’d like. But I’ve come to accept this. That acceptance came last year, when I discovered that even with that unwanted jiggle on my arms I was able to lift and carry a full 50 quart cooler from my job site to my car. Those bicep curls made it not only possible, but not really that hard. My PA saw me do it. She was impressed. And honestly, so was I. It felt good to know that even though I wasn’t achieving the visible results I was striving for, I was actually a lot stronger than I’d thought. Suddenly having “ripped” arms just didn’t matter so much.

We shouldn’t be aspiring to be something we can never achieve. We should be aspiring to be the versions of ourselves that make us happiest. We should aspire to be healthy, fit and strong. We should eat salad one day and cake the next. We should be enjoying ourselves and know that the secret to real happiness isn’t directly proportional to how close to the same dress size as Keira Knightly we are, it’s in being confident and happy with ourselves. I know women who are happy and confident at every size and shape imaginable – and that’s exactly how it should be for everyone.

It makes me sad when I see a girl who is beautiful, talented and extremely stylish post a photo of herself that says “I hate my butt and thighs.” Because what I saw in that photo was a girl with a great ass and nice legs. But we’re so heavily bombarded with these unattainable goals, she doesn’t see it. So – in case you read this – you’re gorgeous. Own it.

Apparently this is Body Confidence Week 2014.

Well, screw that.

I say we own our imperfections and share our struggles and make 2014 Body Confidence Year.

My Tattoos Are NOT An Invitation to Grab Me

This morning, while running errands, I decided to stop off at a Starbucks for a lovely much needed caffeine infusion of the iced variety. It is after all Southern California and it is summer. And it’s hot. As I was waiting in line for the opportunity to order my sugary frosty treat, I noticed that a man in line ahead of me was staring at me. Now, I am not a vain person, however, I am aware that I am somewhat cute and pretty physically fit – and sometimes men look. That’s fine. Whatever. I gave the dude a half-smile and went back to scrolling through email inbox on my phone. The line moved. I looked up and took a step forward and there was the dude. Still staring. This time he asked me, “May I see your tattoo?” referring to the somewhat large piece of ink I have on my upper arm. It was dim in the Starbucks, and I was standing with my arm turned away from him, so I said sure and turned it towards him so he could see it more clearly. I am used to this. I have a number of tattoos. Sometimes you can see them. Sometimes you can’t. And today, in a tank top (I said it was hot), there they are – in all their colorful glory for all the world to see. But then….

He took a step forward to look at the ink in question and grabbed my arm. Just below the elbow and twisted it towards him. Like I was made of rubber. Not only did it hurt a little to have my arm shockingly turned sideways in an unnatural position, but my offer of letting him look at my tattoo more closely DID NOT give him permission to grab me. Or to touch me at all. As one of my friends said when I told them the story “Look with your eyes, not with your hands! Didn’t we learn that in kindergarten?” My point exactly. I asked him to let go of my arm. I did not make a snarky comment about his having had grabbed me in a rather agressive manner without my consent – which would have been easy to do (and honestly, is usually my first instinct). I, also, did not punch him in the nose (which is usually my second instinct). I did, however, pull my arm back a little to let him know it was NOT OKAY TO TOUCH ME and said “Sorry, but do you mind letting go of me?”┬áHis response was to let go of my arm while muttering under his breath, “You don’t have to be bitchy about it.”

I’m sorry – BUT WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK????

Dude, you just grabbed a girl without her permission and twisted her arm sideways. You do not know this woman, you have never seen her before, you do not know anything about her. What the fuck makes you think that by asking to see her artwork you now have her permission to grab her? Or for that matter to touch her at all? Not only is it a violation of my personal space and my right not to be touched by random dudes in coffee shops, but let’s put this in another situation – say you see a girl wearing a t-shirt with a logo on it that is printed clearly over her breasts. You say to her “What does that say?” She turns to you so can read the shirt. Does this brief interaction now give you the right to grab her boobs? Yeah, didn’t think so. In fact, you’d get arrested if you did that. So what makes you think that my body art is any different? It is my body. It is my space. You are not invited into it because you may be an admirer of how I present it to the world.

I would just like to put this out there – a tattoo is a piece of artwork. You wouldn’t grab a painting in a museum to get a better look, would you? No. You would not. So what makes you think that just because I carry my artwork around with me all the time, I want your unwashed hands touching it? It’s not scratch and sniff. You’re not going to get anything extra out of it if you get to touch it. It is, as most art, meant to be looked at, not touched. So keep your grubby hands off me.

The next time you see a girl or anyone with a tattoo you admire, and you ask them to see it more clearly, please respect their boundaries. Yes, tattoos can be beautiful artwork, but they are also part of PEOPLE. Do not assume that the art takes away from the fact that it is on someone’s body. Be respectful. Look, don’t touch. Ask questions if you’re interested in it. I, like most people who have tattoos, are happy to answer any questions you have about them. If you want to know if it feels any different, then ask me that. But, if you are, like I suspect this guy was, just interested in touching me – at least have the common decency to ask me out to dinner first.

And then don’t call me a bitch if I say no because you’re a creepy douchebag.