As a petite woman, I’ve heard it all. I look like a middle schooler or a 12 year old boy. I’ll be thankful for my looks when I’m older. Someone even asked me if I was anorexic…but I’m not. In fact, I was born three months early and barely survived. But since people usually don’t know anything about me, I understand, because I am a small person. It’s easy to assume those things. But what is not okay is the message I’m sent from our American society: that I’m not a real woman.
Women of every body type face insecurities and scrutiny by too many people. This is not to say I have it worse than other women, but petite women are not heard by very many. So now, this is proof that we have a voice.
There are scenarios that I have experienced or heard from petite women that break my heart. I’ve run into people at workplaces who question my age and think a child is working an 18+ job. Someone I know was told to dress more professionally than everyone else at her workplace because she didn’t look ‘mature’ enough. Jubilee Jackson (’19) has encountered people who comment on how they can ‘break her in half’ or she needs to ‘eat a burger.’ Celebrities, such as Keira Knightley, have faced problems with promoters who Photoshop their chests to fit society’s ‘ideal’ standards.
I know that I’m not alone, but sometimes it’s really difficult to grasp that. Clothing stores tend to be the most ignorant places of all. When I have to buy bras out of the children’s section, what effect do you think this has on me and other petite women? It makes us feel inferior. Yes, maybe we’re not the majority, but we’re still here. My options are either buying a custom bra that’s super expensive or resorting to the children’s section. The truth is, most women my size probably settle for something that doesn’t fully fit.
The overuse of Photoshop is just one of many similar issues petite women face with their bodies. Many women with small chests are led towards thinking that they need to have plastic surgery. I feel pressured as a petite woman to wear heels frequently to obtain a height that can be taken ‘more seriously.’ There is pressure to wear more makeup to look older as well. I’ve had internal struggles with myself over whether boys will truly be attracted to me because of my small physique. This poor mentality is a result of popular culture, a lack in similar representation and voices and unrealistic expectations. Society will tell us again and again that we should be discontent with how we look, that we are not as strong as the average woman, that our size is not good enough.
But here I am. I am a woman with a voice and feelings, just like any other. A woman who can clearly see the limits placed on beauty standards and is hurt by the dishonesty. Yet here I am, not buying into society’s lies. Because guess what society? Regardless of what you like to tell me, I’ve come to love the way I look.