I can feel a physical brain shift happening. It’s been a decade in the making, but lately I feel like I’m on the cusp of something monumental.
It started with Jes’s Expose Project.
Because here’s the thing. You always, always hear “oh, everyone has stretch marks! Everyone has cellulite! Everyone’s boobs are different shapes!” And it’s good to hear that, and it’s good people say it, but YOU NEVER ACTUALLY SEE IT. So those good things people say turn into a kind of myth. And because we don’t see it, we start to question it. We start to doubt it and wonder about our own lines and dimples because, sure, you hear everyone has them, but the only bodies we see are photoshopped to perfection. And even though you KNOW they’re photoshopped and not real, it still starts to feel real because it’s all you see. And because it feels so real, you look for proof that you’re right–you ARE the only one with stretch marks and dimples and curves and floppy flim flam here and there and everywhere.
It’s called confirmation bias, and I have it.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.
Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence.
Because you don’t see different body types, you start to believe your body is the odd one out. The outlier. It makes you feel less than, and you feel confused when you do everything the world tells you to do–eat right, exercise–but your body still doesn’t look like what they tell you it should look like. It’s confusing, and it’s frustrating, and you never stop feeling like you’ve done something horribly wrong somewhere, and if you knew what it was, you would fix it, but you can’t. You start to feel like your body owns you and you don’t own your body.
I got stretch marks when I was 12 years old. I cried in the shower when I first saw them. And then I was anorexic because I wanted them to go away, even though I knew they wouldn’t. And after rehab, when I got healthy again, they spread all over my body, which felt so cruel. I was doing what the world told me to do–eat healthy, exercise, not have an eating disorder–but they still happened. And because nobody ever talks about their stretch marks, I thought for sure it was my fault. I was damaged goods. I didn’t wear shorts or tank tops. I passed on pool parties. I dreaded beach vacations.
And then confirmation bias set in. I looked everywhere for them to validate my feelings. I started paying a disgruntling amount of attention to people’s thighs and arms, hoping SOMEONE would have them so I wouldn’t feel so alone. But I never saw any because I didn’t want to see any. Every woman I passed at the pool or the mall or anywhere was confirmation that I was a worthless bag of shit.
Which brings us back to Jes and the Expose Project. Which was the first time it actually hit me that different body types and marks and shapes were a real thing. I KNOW. It sounds stupid, and I’m so late to the game. But it was something that had to come with experience and time I think. My confirmation bias was so strong, and I was never ready to accept it until I saw those photos. And something clicked. A ‘ping!’ moment in my brain. Like maybe, just MAYBE, I could shift my thinking.
And then I found Love Your Lines. And there’s plenty of pregnancy stories, BUT there are also tons of people that just have them and have always had them. And they’re every size of the spectrum.
80% of us have stretch marks. And like I said in my last post, over 90% of us have cellulite. I KNOW IT’S NOT BREAKING NEWS. And I’m not sure why I never saw photos of real bodies until now.
But I finally did see them, and the shift is happening. And I’m glad there are people like Jes and the Love Your Lines creators to break the confirmation bias. To bring a little smack of reality back to the surreal cesspool that we’ve created for ourselves.
So, challenge your confirmation bias today. Whatever that may be.