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Sherri Tilley

Who Told You You're Not Beautiful? A Response to the Lane Bryant #ImNoAngel Ads

To ladies of all shapes and sizes: Who told you that you're not beautiful? And what price have you paid for believing the lie?

Who Told You You're Not Beautiful? A Response to the Lane Bryant #ImNoAngel Ad Campaign

Originally posted 4/9/15, republished 1/1/16

I was 85 pounds when I graduated from high school. And if I had a dime for every time someone has walked up to me, grabbed my 5" wrist and said, You're so skinny! or Girl, you need to eat, I could perhaps purchase my own private island and escape what has been a lifetime of skinny-shaming.

My body image began to shatter at ten years of age when a childhood friend of mine made the off-handed comment you look like a boy when sizing up my less-than-shapely little pre-adolescent frame. And while she probably meant no harm by this rather blunt declaration of her general observation, it was nonetheless a hurtful wound which was deeply internalized and required decades of healing at the hands of an extremely-patient and repeatedly-affirming husband.

Like many of us, I've faced my own battles regarding a less-than-perfect physical appearance including the misconception that being thin disqualifies the validity of my experience in the first place. I've been the last kid chosen for playground games like Red Rover, I've been derogatorily labeled a skinny bitch, and more than once (or twice or even a dozen times), I've been harshly excluded from group conversations about physical fitness with that all-too familiar dismissive rejection that generally comes in the condescending verbal form of, Oh please, you don't need to exercise!

So I learned to be quiet.

As a safeguard to my own heart, I gradually developed a mental list of topics to avoid when conversing with ladies which included subjects like eating habits, exercise routines, the process of childbirth, and, above all, finding a mutually-agreeable air temperature. I've often remained perfectly silent because, in my life, there has been absolutely no mistaking the overly-emphasized message that the skinny voice is very often a severely underrated one.

But now, I'm finished being quiet.

This week, I watched as a friend was verbally pummeled on Facebook for her casual insinuation that the Lane Bryant #ImNoAngel campaign is inappropriately shedding a negative light on Victoria's Secret models. I was utterly baffled and appalled as commenting defenders of the lingerie-line advertisement seemed completely oblivious to the very idea that the commercial was fueled by at least some degree of animosity toward women with thinner physiques.

So I pose this question to ladies of all shapes and sizes: Who told you that you're not beautiful? And what price have you paid for believing the lie?

I certainly acknowledge the fact that malnourishment and obesity are both serious issues that must be addressed on a broad scale in our society, and I know that there are unhealthy individuals on each side of the weight spectrum. However, I simultaneously wonder how we, as a collective whole, have forgotten our rightful place as the accepted daughters of a God who loves us beyond measure. Are we not fearfully and wonderfully made in His image? Have we not been freely given beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness?

Despite all of the chattering 'conversation' about acceptable body proportions, many people still seem to be emotionally left in the cold to wander aimlessly searching for some sense of personal validation. But it won't be found by looking around and comparing ourselves with one another. Rather, the answer lies in recognizing the fact that we were each designed with a particular purpose in mind and outfitted with the exact resources we need to accomplish that purpose.

Decades have since gone by for me, and nothing much has changed. I'm 47 years old, 5'2" tall, and 95 pounds. I purposely made it up to 100 pounds once, but it quickly became an exhausting exercise in futility trying to be something I'm just not. So now I happily accept my own unique size. My husband visually tracks my weight and routinely makes it perfectly clear that he is pleased with my physical attributes. And if he thinks I'm sexy, then that's all that matters to me.

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