Body Image Boiled Down to One Question

In a previous post, I alluded to a coversation Anne and I had about body image. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about that conversation without coming off as crude, insensitive, or worse, telling you that you need external validation to feel good about yourself.

Basically, we decided that our only (or main?) measure for body image was …

Would someone sleep with me?

(OK, maybe we phrased it “Am I bangable?”)

Being married women, we could answer that question pretty easily.

But it begs the question, what if you’re not married/partnered/currently sleeping with anyone? I’m not saying you should go out to your local watering hole for the purposes of answering the question, “would someone have sex with me?” (Shows how long I’ve been out of the dating scene … there’s an app for that now. Many.)

I also don’t like the idea that you should get validation from someone else.

However, Caitlin at Fit and Feminist wrote a great post recently about moving away from the Cult of the Body. She put into very eloquent words how I feel about physical appearance. It’s all nice and good and fine to care about your appearance, but if that’s all you have to offer, or if that’s the most important thing you have to offer, well, that’s sad.

I try not to get too hung up on  my looks because I know I have so much more to offer than a pretty face or a “hot” body or fitting into a certain size or hitting a certain number on the scale. For me, fitness and working out have been more about how it feels – the thrill of a run, the focus and determination to achieve a goal, the enjoyment of a dance class or trying some new physical activity. The fact that it’s healthy and has physical benefits is a great side effect.

But what really matters to me runs a little deeper. Am I happy? Is my husband happy? Does my family know I love them? Am I spending enough time with my awesome friends? Do I like my job? Am I giving back to the world in some beneficial way? Am I getting the most out of life?

So when it boils down to it, what is my appearance good for? Sure, other people might judge me on it, and I might be reaping some benefits from it. You could say I’m priviledged with a “normal” (perhaps attractive) appearance, so it’s easier for me to be all “looks aren’t important” when mine don’t hold me back. Whatever.

At the end of the day, what am I getting from my looks that I like?

Well, to be frank, sex. It’s pretty fun, yes? And physical attraction plays a pretty big role in getting someone to bang you.

So, this brings us back to am I bangable? Yes? Then my appearance serves the one purpose it can that I care about.

Besides, beyond that, no one else notices my little body hang-ups … because they’re too busy being distacted by their own insecurities.

So as long as my looks fulfill the one need I have for them, I’m going to focus my energy on stuff that makes me feel good and gives me actual worth.

Screen shot 2013-02-07 at 10.17.35 PM

And once in awhile, take fun pin-ups pictures without scrutinizing my flaws.

For the record, this is my highest weight.

This is also one of my husband’s favorite pictures of me.

Curves? Bangable.

Portruding hip bones? Painful. Not bangable. That kind of outward appearance would work against me.

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30 Comments on “Body Image Boiled Down to One Question”

  1. Also if you’re too concerned about your physical appearance, or you are so insecure and hate yourself so much that you can’t SEE yourself as bangable, that will affect your ability to get banged. 🙂

  2. I love so much that Robert considers you just as hot and bangable at your highest weight (which btw, dang, way to work those voluptuous curves!) as any other.

    I met my Robert at (what was at that time) my highest weight ever. Objectively I can say that I was not looking my best at that time, but I was still pretty confident that I was bangable. I didn’t even need that external validation because I knew it, and I guess that’s where the body image and self-confidence come in, right? Also, I had a feeling I was going out with a dude that didn’t really care how much I weighed, and would be into me (haha, literally) because of how awesome I am. Turns out I was right. And if I wasn’t, we wouldn’t still be together.

    I was overweight as a kid, and always thought THAT was why I didn’t have many friends. Kids picked on me and made me feel even worse about myself, and I was just shy and closed off. But as a grown-up I realize that it’s because I felt really bad about myself, and just assumed no one would want to be my friend, and never really reached out. Which is really sad. So while I wouldn’t say my looks in and of themselves held me back, the way I felt about them did. It took a lot for me to get to a place where I did feel really good about myself and my appearance, but once I did start feeling bangable, I’ve never lost that confidence, no matter what my weight. It just sucks that it’s so hard for a lot of us to come to these realizations.

    Thanks for finally writing this all out – so many good thoughts came out of that conversation!

    1. Actually he thinks I was hotter at the higher weight – he thinks I’m too skinny now. Obviously still bangable though. And my personality is the same, which he seems to really dig, more than my looks (especially when we’re not banging).

      And yes, confidence is so key.

  3. I love any reason to bring out those pinup pictures. Too cute.

    Moving on …. yes, protruding hipbones will garner me absolutely nothing in life. Health, real health, is not about skinny. Skinny doesn’t measure cholesterol or ability to walk around downtown all day or carry my groceries up from the car. Those are the things I care about.

  4. I love this post and I love your confidence. I have always had body image issues, but yet have always known that I am “bangable”. I guess I have always had confidence in my personality and what I have to offer which makes me feel more attractive. Ironically, I met my husband at a higher weight and have lost and gained the same 10 – 12 lbs for years since we got together 15 years ago. He NEVER seems to know the difference. My “skinny” (happy) weight/my “fat” (unhappy) weight – it all looks the same to him. That always shocks me. He just likes me.

    1. I feel like a lot of women’s body image issues come from really disordered places. Like, WHY are we so hung up on 10 pounds? If we know we’re healthy with or without it? We notice it (I’m hung up on my own right now) on our own bodies, but everyone else – husbands, friends, family – could care less. I’M the only one who notices and who it bothers. And why? Is it really affecting my life? I have confidence regardless.

      “He just likes me.” So true. My husband would love me the same if I weighed 120 or 220. He married me for my personality. Any body hang-ups I have are mine and mine alone and ultimately pointless in the big picture.

  5. I have BIG body image issues. I can go on and on, but honestly, I something my own mom told me when I was about 12 always sticks with me, and I think that’s why I have always struggled with my weight. I won’t bore you with all the details of my ups and downs. Maggie, I think you’re beautiful, and I love your confidence. If you can send a little my way . . .

    BTW… I love Jay and Silent Bob. I really need to watch some movies with them . . . ASAP.

    1. I’ve been reading a lot lately about women who “inherited” their body images from their mothers, and it’s made me so thankful that my mom never had those issues (or kept them to herself if she did). But Jill, I think YOU are beautiful!!!!

  6. Ha ha ha. I know the bangable question is supposed to be humorous, and I often think “My husband finds me attractive, and I feel good, so yay” but the more I think about it… if you have a vagina, you can probably get laid. Ha ha. So, we should probably not put much stock in whether someone (male or female) would bang us. That’s all about preference. Which could get in to another discussion about how different cultures prefer skinny vs heavy vs whatever women, but I won’t go there.

    I do agree with you on there being more to us than appearance. I really just want to feel good. I actually struggle now, as I am a personal trainer and have some pressure to look a certain way, and exercise is about joy for me, so I can’t really translate that over. I just don’t think I will ever be a woman who is obsessed with how she looks. And that is okay, for me.

    1. Yup, if any of us were really desperate, I think we could easily find many decent guys who would bang us. However, that’s just sex. Actual relationships are a different beast and require a different kind of attraction. Which, to me, is the more important one.

  7. You look absolutely fabulous in that pin-up girl picture. Kudos to you for sharing it! And good for you for focusing on what is truly important in life. This is a great post.

    It’s funny because I have a lot of body issues and I immediately notice them in every single picture of myself. But my husband doesn’t care. And likewise, he’s put on a little bit of weight over the past few years, but I don’t care and barely notice at all. We are truly always our own worst enemies, no?

    1. My husband’s weight has fluctuated through the years (he lost a lot before and during bootcamp four years ago), but of course I don’t care. I’m more concerned with this health stats (how’s his cholesterol, BP, etc).

  8. Your pinup photo: smokin hot!

    The bangable question is something I hadn’t thought of like that before. 🙂 but now thinking about it and some past experiences I’ll go ahead and disagree with you. I’ve been to some industry conferences with L (his industry not mine) and there’s a very high percentage of guys who (IMO) would bang anything that moves or has legs. The same creepy drooling attention was given to any and all women in attendance. I could feel their beady little eyes undressing me as I walked to meet L one day. A quick scan of the room revealed everything with boobies were getting visually “banged.” Barf.

    And I couldn’t agree more with what you said about it being so much more than appearance. But after watching too many episodes of “Maury” or Ricki lake as a kid and seeing couples on the edge of divorce because “my Husband/wife was attractive and cared about their looks before marriage…. Now they have gained 50lbs, wear sweatpants all the time and ratty Garfield t shirts to bed.” I realized that taking care of yourself is sexy (to me) and letting oneself “go” would make me want to 1. Help my partner care about themselves more. 2. Leave the relationship (if they decided to continue not to care about their health and appearance) because at that point, we wouldn’t be sharing some of the things we had in common that Drew us to eachother in the first place. (Mainly caring about ourselves and living an active relatively healthy lifestyle) but that’s a thought for another day. Great thought provoking post M! 🙂

    1. Thanks for you comment! In the back of my mind as I wrote this, I was thinking that there are some guys out there who would sleep with any willing woman. I didn’t want to preface “Am I bangable?” with “Am I bangable by someone worth banging?” But I guess my point was we get so hung up on our looks … and why? I’m glad this post got some people thinking about it (even if they have different perspectives).

      And I definitely am with you on keeping up appearance. Obviously I do take care of my looks (I don’t roll out of bed in heels and mascara). I do want to continue to be “bangable” for my partner. But I think it’s more about personal pride and taking care of myself than narcissism. I hope 🙂

  9. You are totally rocking that pic!

    Oddly for me – I got hit on more when I weighed 200 (or more). I get hit on less now… can’t really figure that one out. And though, I do have to admit, I have gained some of the 70 lbs that I lost back (about 20) and that does sort of make me uncomfortable in general… that whole clothes not fitting but I don’t want to buy bigger clothes thing. But it does NOT change my opinion of myself. And working out still gives me confidence that I would not otherwise have.

    1. I’m with you on the clothes – I feel like clothes not fitting bothers me more than gaining weight. I don’t really care too much what my SIZE is, I just want clothes that fit properly and are flattering, and I don’t want to have to go out and spend the time and money on new stuff.

  10. My husband always tells me that he likes women with some curves. That super skinny and super muscular is scary, not sexy. But, he will support whatever makes ME feel good about myself. Because, if I feel good about myself then I will confident and want to take my clothes off in front of him 🙂

  11. I loved reading this…especially because it’s so true in many aspects. I wonder if it all boils down to primal instinct? We’re just nothing but mammals (name that song!) and our competitive nature to “find a mate” is what drives us to keep up our appearance in the end. Anyway, I’ll never forget that when I was at my highest weight my (now ex-) boyfriend said he liked my body the most (although he liked me at any and every size). I think any woman is bangable but we all want to feel our best too – positive feedback from others (esp. of the opposite sex) helps but the mind holds all the power. Great post!

    P.S – that pinup photo is hawtt!

    1. I’m actually reading a book right now (Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver) and it’s heavily rooted in nature and the ideas of primal instinct (we’re all attracted to smell – pheremones – some animals only seek each other out by smell). It’s very interesting!

      And yes, any woman is bangable, but positive feedback (hint hint to men) goes a loooooong way! (I’m sure men appreciate the positive feedback to, and I always try to give it to my husband.)

      1. YES to giving positive feedback to men as well! Again with the ex-bf (it was my one serious relationship so it’s all I have to go off of), but I remember one day he finally bravely told me how I never compliment him on anything and I was completely floored because I had no idea men even cared about that. I suspect it’s something that most women often overlook but I think it can do wonders in a relationship.

        1. Likewise, I think women (well, men too) who never compliment and only criticize are doing more harm than they probably realize. This aggravates me about some married couples. Why would you talk about the person you love most in the world – who YOU chose – in such a negative way??

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