“Are you REALLY wearing those jeans with that top? You look like an aqua blowfish.”
I turn in front of the mirror and survey my rear view critically. Hmm…. not too bad… at least the gauzy turquoise top is long enough to cover my tummy and part of my ass. Okay, maybe I’ve gained a couple of pounds in the last month, but still-
“A couple of pounds? You think?” Derisive hoots of laughter.
I frown. Everyone knows that wearing heels with pants elongates the legs. All the fashion experts say so. It’s instantly slimming-
“Girl, put on a pair of heels and you’re just stacking the fat that much higher.”
With a sigh, I wriggle out of the jeans and yank my shirt off. Of course I’ll end up wearing the black dress. I always wear the black dress when I’m feeling… erm, shall we say, a little tight around the seams. After all, nothing else makes me look skinnier than that dress.
“Nothing else fits your fat ass.”
“Stop it.” My voice is low but sharp.
“Oh, the truth hurts, does it? Listen, don’t shoot the messenger, sweetie. After all, you’re the one who ate an entire sleeve of Chunky Dunks last night.”
“Oh, shut up!” I snap. “Just stop it!”
I hear a tap at the bedroom door, and my roommate Rachel peeks around the corner quizzically and asks, “Hey, you have company in here?”
“No,” I say, and sigh as I sink down on the bed and motion her inside. “I’m just having an argument with my inner bitch.”
“Ah. You mean the nasty little voice in your head that always says you’re too fat, or your left boob is lopsided?”
“That’s the one. My voice is gay, and ruthless. You can’t imagine.”
Rachel snorts. “Oh, that’s nothing. Mine’s a Jewish mother. Trust me, gay can’t even begin to compare.”
The above exchange is fiction, of course; I’m not single and I don’t have a roommate named Rachel.
But the Inner Bitch? Oh, she’s definitely real. And I’m willing to bet that every woman out there has that same critical, fault-finding Voice in her head.
We hear her criticism dozens of times throughout the day. The Voice is always ready to tell us we’re not good enough, clever enough, pretty enough, young enough, thin enough. The neighbor’s house is cleaner than ours. Their little girl wears Oilily, not Oshkosh. The beef stroganoff we made for supper last night had too much salt.
You get the idea.
It’s impossible to live up to, that Voice. It expects perfection and ruthlessly picks us apart when we fall short… which, inevitably, we do. And the thing is, if a friend talked to us this way, we’d tell them to go straight to hell. Yet we berate and belittle ourselves all day long, and we take it. We don’t protest. We don’t get angry. We get depressed instead, or discouraged. We believe every word The Voice says.
No, I tell myself glumly, I’ll never learn to knit a Greek fisherman’s sweater / make a perfect soufflé / read “Remembrance of Things Past” in French. God, my thighs look ginormous in these trousers. I bet that new girl they hired at work makes twice the salary I do. Of course, she’s probably far more qualified than I am-
Well, I say – SHUT UP, already.
I will no longer be so hard on myself. I will no longer listen to the soundtrack of negativity and defeatism playing in my head. I will stop comparing myself to others and finding myself wanting. I will be as understanding – and forgiving – of myself as I am of my friends and family.
After all, I may not turn out world-class, gourmet meals; but at least they’re (mostly) home-cooked. I’m not as slim as Elle MacPherson or Alexa Chung, but then… who is? Who ever was? I’m okay with my weight (mostly) and my appearance, and I’m happily married to a wonderful man. (I promised Mr. Oliver I’d say something nice about him. And he really is wonderful (mostly).
So, when my Inner Bitch starts her next scathing critique, I’ll be ready. I’ll put my fingers firmly in my ears and sing “la la la la” and think positive thoughts about myself until she goes away.
I expect I’ll get some funny looks.
But that’s okay, because the Inner Bitch will leave. She hates to be ignored (she demands constant attention). She’ll give up and storm off in search of another, more insecurity-plagued woman to torment. (She’s quite the drama queen.)
Now then, I’ve decided to wear that gauzy turquoise top with those jeans after all. Let me just take a quick look at my rear view in the mirror.
Hmm. Not too bad. It’ll do, I suppose.
But these shoes! I clutch my head in despair. These shoes are so last year…