Friday, April 14, 2006

Saner than I thought

You know a survey that asks 5,000 women what they think about their bodies is going to be incredibly depressing.

98% of women surveyed hate their bodies. So if you got 50 women together then one of them wouldn't hate their body (by my experience that's actually quite accurate, except I've never found the one). As well as the sheer overwhelming number of women, the strength of the language to describe women's feelings towards their body terrifies me. I've spent most of the last week hating cop rapists, and it's exhausting. Imagine being one of the 29% of women that worry about their size and shape every waking minute. Imagine hating yourself that much. It just doesn't seem sustainable to me.

I find it very tempting to make myself feel less crazy by reading this sort of stuff. My head thinks "the average British women worries about her body four times an hour! I don't even think about my body four times an hour, and about half the time I think good things about my body. See I'm sane." Or I get angry at the 87% of women who hate their thighs and 79% who hate their waists.

I don't think that's the most useful thing to take from this article. In fact I'm going to quote Carol Hanisch, in part of my on-going quest to reclaim the phrase 'the personal is political':

One of the first things we discover in these groups is that personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time.
(exact quote found at Bitch|Lab).

The point isn't to feel superior myself, or to get annoyed with other women, but work to change the situation where hating our bodies is part of what it means to be a woman.


  1. It's very important not to feel "superior" to women who worry about their bodies all the time. But I do feel worried and very sad to think that so many are suffering because it is real suffering (I hope that's not patronising or superior). I say that as an ex-anorexic. I am incredibly grateful to feminist theory for helping me to free myself from this hell.

  2. I agree winter, worried sad and angry.

    But I think in a way what I do with these sorts of surveys is almost a similar process to comparing your body to other women. I compare my insanity.