The last few weeks of April in college are fun with impending finals and projects looming down on you, the mass amounts of Easter candy at hand, having to find new living arrangements, and the lack of time in general. So of course, instead of working on an essay, I spend my time scrolling through memes on Instagram.
I had been following this meme page for a while, and while some of the memes seemed to be pushing it, most were quality humor. However, when coupling trolling while watching videos for my women’s sexuality class, my inner feminist EXPLODED when I saw this meme:
Oh. My. Word. As a female whose chest is mostly comprised of pectoral muscle (shoutout to bench squad), this one stung. It brought back memories of a sexual encounter I had where I was putting my shirt on after and the guy said, “I never realized how much bras make a difference.”
As I mentioned earlier and am forewarning now, I’m in a women’s sexuality class as well as two other gender classes this semester, so my little gender radar antennae in my head has been whirring around non-stop in response to almost everything I see. So let’s take a nice long look at this piece of “modern art.”
First of all, the phrase, “It’s a boy!” is typically said when the little alien-looking baby pops out of a mother’s stomach. At least this is how it works in movies. “It’s a boy” immediately assigns the child’s sex and gender identity at birth, before the little munchkin is even making conscious decisions on who it wants to identify as. As so lovely-demonstrated in this meme, being a boy is associated with baseball, or athleticism. This implies the masculine view of strength as a dominant male characteristic. Also an inherent appreciation of the color blue seems to be a male trait.
So what does this leave for girls? Personally, if I took off my bra and became magically good at sports, I’d think that was pretty cool. Unfortunately, I don’t think this is what this meme is implying. It’s saying that breasts are what makes a girl a girl, and having a flat chest makes a girl undesirable by males. This would be real bad news for me as a heterosexual female desiring eventually a husband and a family. Also, by adding in the push-up qualifier, it implies that females already feel as if they need to impress boys by having boobs. This is absolutely tragic.
Now, this rant is not universal. I know some incredibly upstanding guys who would cringe at this, and I know incredible girls that know their true self-worth is priceless. Kudos to you. But for the rest of us out there, how do we deal with body shaming like this?
- Don’t let your body define your self-worth. I am not just 133 pounds. My identity is not the jiggle in my thighs.
- Don’t let other people define your self-worth. We’re all guilty of this. I spend nights sitting on my bathroom counter strategically plucking my eyebrows and squeezing blackheads to try to look better so people like me. And then if no one comments on my appearance, I feel bad about myself. Wow, I didn’t know that the 50 people I see a day had the power to control my entire view on self-worth. Newsflash: they don’t.
- Do what you do for you. Dress in what makes you comfortable and confident and feel good for your own sake. My solid black t-shirt with a normal bra is what I feel best in. And it makes me laugh because the material stains by armpits black. But that’s fine with me; I don’t care if my black armpits don’t get your approval.
- Speak up against what doesn’t feel right. Some ignorant human doesn’t understand these above points? Holla at them. Don’t do it condescendingly like you’re better than them, but make it known that words hurt. And words lead to mindsets and mindsets spread. Be proud of your value as a human being, and work to raise awareness that everyone should feel the same about themselves and you.
Needless to say, I unfollowed this page on Instagram, and here I am continuing to delay my homework by writing this blog. But realizing your self-worth can be a process, and I think taking time to discover yourself and value yourself is more important than any literature review. And maybe after I post this, I’ll go for a run in a sports bra with minimal padding and tomorrow I’ll hit chest at the gym because I know my worth as a woman isn’t found in a cup size.