A Best Friend...
by Jordan Kisner
Is there when you need someone,
But understands when you want to be alone.
Sees the bright side of a bad hair day
Remembers when you met.
Notices when you lose five pounds, and gets excited about it.
There was the more on the card but, at that point, I stopped reading.
A best friend notices when you lose five pounds and gets excited about it. Huh.
Now, I am sure that my friend didn’t pay particular attention to that one line, but I found it really shocking, and have been spending some time thinking about how women talk to each other about our bodies and how they impact our self-worth.
First, let’s imagine how this card might be different if it had been designed for a male recipient. There may be fewer flowers and sparkles, and there would certainly be no mention of weight loss (though the incredibly ironic declaration later in the card that a best friend knows your favorite pizza toppings would likely survive the card’s masculinizing). Clearly, this card was designed by someone who wanted to appeal to “girly-girls,” with pink glitter and tropes of female friendship, but why does Hallmark think that female friendship includes a vested interest in each other’s body shape? Why does a real friend celebrate when you lose weight?
I suspect that this is because women are conditioned today to be unhappy with their bodies—to find them too heavy, droopy, tall, disproportionate, whatever. The list of imperfections we are taught to feel ashamed of, and then hide or change, is endless. The assumption that this creates a ‘we’re all in it together’ female camaraderie about hating our bodies is wrong and –I think— dangerous. Wrong because I know of a lot of women with close friendships in which weight, fitness or body type is absolutely irrelevant. Dangerous because this kind of sick camaraderie (which does exist between some women) legitimizes the crippling misconception that, as women, our self-worth is dependant on our bodies’ adherence to some unattainable model of beauty.