Reebok’s ad for its new EasyTone tennis shoes caught my eye on TV last night. Like SKECHERS Shape Ups, these shoes promise to help strengthen your legs, while increasing tone in your legs, thighs, and butt. Only they’re cuter. “Ooh!” I thought immediately. “Maybe I should get some.”
Then, just as quickly, another part of me countered with, “Here’s another product to help me fix something that’s ‘wrong’ with me.” And then my mind became flooded with a long list of products designed to fix women and make us beautiful, finally. There’s Revitalash, guaranteed to grow your eyelashes, LipFusion, guaranteed to plump up your lips (or Maybelline’s Volume XL Seduction Lip if you just want them to look pumped), there’s Botox, guaranteed to reduce your wrinkles, and the LAP BAND Surgery, guaranteed to permanently control your waistline. And it’s all scientifically proven!
Watching this Reebok ad made me realize that I’m tired of not liking parts of myself. (And I’m not talking about bad habits or poor character.) I’m tired of thinking that I need to be taller, that I need to have and legs that are more toned, plus a tight bottom, perfect for a pair of Apple Bottom jeans. I’m tired of freaking out about the newly emerging grey hairs sprouting in my otherwise brown-haired head. I’m fine to stop assessing my diet if my jeans start to feel a little tight. I’m sick of feeling that I should work out, not because it’s good for me, but because it will keep me looking like I’m 25. Perennially.
What I’m most weary of is the fact that I’ve allowed other people and institutions (mainly the advertising industry), to make me believe that something — no, lots of things, are wrong with me. Despite my instruction in feminist theory in college and my time allowing Scripture to help me see that I “fearfully and wonderfully made,” I have allowed myself to be victimized by an industry that has wreaked havoc on women’s bodies and psyches for decades, if not centuries. Scholarly critique and prayer have not immunized me from its toxic lies, presented in mirage-filled magazines and carefully-crafted million-dollar TV ad campaigns.
What’s even crazier is that a part of me kind of wants the EasyTones. Having them might eliminate the need to work out as much. But buying them would surely be another act of self-hatred, a clear message to my body (and myself) that I am not good enough.
So, instead today I choose to believe what is penned so beautifully in Psalm 139: that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. As is.