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I'm an eighteen year-old girl, and I have a small frame. I only weigh forty-five kilograms (ninety-nine pounds). From the age of about twelve, I have always been told that I'm too thin, and that I should gain weight because men like curvy girls, etc. This has affected me terribly. I don't have almost any girl friends because they can't seem to avoid mentioning my "too thin" body. My boyfriend says I look great, and he doesn't want me any bigger, but I find it hard to trust him. Due to media portrayal of women having large breasts, I feel really self-conscious. I'm only a 32 B, and people don't understand that it hurts when they ask me "why don't you put on weight?" and other similar comments. Why are only curvy girls on men's magazines? Do they prefer big boobs? I've become too obsessed, and I'm affecting my bf's life. I love him very much and I don't want to lose him because of this.

I'm so sorry that you—like most women—feel badly that you don't/can't live up to society's version of the ideal women. And your note just confirms for me that the primary problem with most media images of women is that the range of acceptability is far too narrow. Most women feel that they can't measure up to the often incredibly small women portrayed, and you’re saying that you don't feel you measure up to the curvy women portrayed—which points to the crux of the problem: women are almost always made to feel that they just aren't good enough or that other women have it easier. I think it's so important for women and girls to have moments to share these stories with other women, because so many times we think "it's only me" or "others have it easy." Not until we have moments of sharing do we realize both that others feel the same and that we often have some indirect power over other women. 

For me—I loved playing sports with other women or being in a gym because it demystified for me the range of women's body types—it was much broader than I assumed. I also learned to love complimenting women and realized how that immediately took away the competition (for instance, saying "I want your thighs" or whatever it was). Women feel too boxed in and too isolated—we need to have more moments of sharing. As your experience underscores, the problem is often that women aren't looking for male approval as much as female approval, though the former is the primary assumption. 




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