(I think I am 16 in this photo- but let's pretend because I can't find a photo of 14-year-old Cara)
Back when I was just 14 years old, gearing up to start high school, I remember reading a tabloid magazine flooded with pictures of celebrities.
In typical tabloid fashion, they were not discussing the actress’s accolades, accomplishments, or intelligence. Who would care to read about that, right? That doesn’t sell magazines.
They were talking about their cellulite.
You know…, those naturally occurring body dimples that grace the legs of most women on planet earth?
But my young porous sponge-like, teenage brain did not know this. I assumed that cellulite made you a bad, disgusting person who would be the laughing stock of anyone who was aware you had cellulite.
I learned a lesson that day that many girls learn: to be valuable you must look a certain way.
That message was continually reinforced by the world around me so I internalized it and made it my truth.
I went straight to the bathroom where I had a full-length mirror and stripped my bell-bottom jeans off; I was wearing a navy blue pair of undies with light blue paisley flowers on them from the Gap. I loved this specific pair.
I turned around, butt-towards-mirror, and began to investigate.
I poked, I pinched, and I jiggled to see if I jiggled in the “right way.”
Did I have any of that god-awful cottage cheese on my thighs that US Weekly was making fun of?
I think I saw a little under my butt.
My heart sank.
Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. I better get rid of this.
This triggered a chain reaction of micromanaging my body, known as Body Monitoring by researchers.
I slowly began walking down the road of self-objectification; seeing myself not as a whole person, but as an object that is on constant display for others to judge and critique.
And as a result, pieces of my awareness were now always dedicated to making sure I was sucking in enough, that my hair was looking good, and that the pimples on my face weren’t showing.
It eventually snowballed into a big hairy, people-pleasing problem known as an eating disorder and it took over my life.
Like it does the lives of so many.
Almost by definition, if you are born a girl you will be judged based on your level of “nice-to-look-at-ness.”
Sadly, it makes women feel like they are held hostage by other people’s opinion of the way they look. Never to be fully acknowledged for everything you can offer if you can’t first offer up thinness and beauty.
And it is a HUGE distraction and absolute bullshit.
Countless women dedicate a large portion of their cognitive resources to body monitoring, pursuing thinness, and obsessing over what they eat.