It doesn't matter, really, what show it was. There are plenty of them, each with slight variations in theme. TV shows that listen earnestly while people describe how changing the size or shape of their body will bring them happiness, will open up doors for them, will enable them to do things they couldn't do before.
Now, some of this is true. Having a strong and healthy body can help people feel less limited in their life. But here's my thing: "Strong and healthy" may not look the same on you as it looks on me. "Strong and healthy" may not show on my waistline, or my clothes size, or the numbers on the scale. We don't have good, reliable ways to generalize about "strong and healthy" across large numbers of people. And there is plenty of bad information being given out, even by so-called health and nutrition experts, about what "strong and healthy" ought to look like. So let's stop equating "thin" with "strong and healthy."
What if we had a reality show where we listened earnestly while people described their hopes and dreams, and then helped them see how many of the barriers to achieving those dreams were artificial? What if a woman who said she dreams of feeling beautiful in a sexy red dress could do just that without changing the shape of her body? What if the man who said he wants to be able to walk down the beach in his swim trunks with confidence could do just that without going on a starvation diet?
What if we could offer people "makeovers" of self-love? What if, instead of drawing up a plan to change someone's hairstyle, makeup, wardrobe and physical form, these reality TV shows drew up a plan to teach people to learn to love themselves? To let go of all the negative stories they have been telling themselves for years?
Jezebel reported several years ago on a study linking the rise in makeover shows with a corresponding rise in body anxiety for young women. Go figure, right? As if there aren't already enough messages aimed at girls and women about how their bodies should look. I am attempting some early counter-programming with my daughter in anticipation of a lifetime of these messages; I repeat often to her that "there's no wrong way to have a body."
Now, I'm not saying anyone who wants to lose weight or change the way they look is self-hating. Far from it. But I do think it is very, very easy to fall into a mindset of "If only ..." If only I could lose a few more pounds. If only my abs were a bit tighter. If only my biceps were better defined. If only I could lose a few inches around my waist. If only.
I don't want my daughter to live a life of "if only." Instead, I want her to hear that she is enough the way she is. That she is deserving of love, whatever her shape. That there truly is no wrong way to have a body.
Top: Proenza Schouler for Target, thrifted
Skirt: Vintage, thrifted, in my shop
Huaraches: Vintage, thrifted