Dear Christina Hall,
I'm a big fan of yours. My husband and I love to watch Flip or Flop after our young kids are in bed, engaging in lively debates on the elements of a beautiful home. You're a talented designer and professional with a great instinct for creating stunning spaces, all the while juggling parenthood and making good TV.
I am writing to you because I have noticed something worrying.
Your butt's too small.
Hey hey hey, hear me out. In a recent picture with your husband you appear to be very thin. I am no body critic, and to each her own. Still, there are a few things I would like you to know.
It's not cool to comment on someone's body. But I implore you, as a woman, a person with ambitions, a partner, and a mother, to take a close look at what is happening within you. I can't pretend to know or even guess at the inner life of a stranger--but, woman to woman? I have been there.
You have addressed the body-shamers over social media and through outlets like People--"Chill people--I eat, and I eat healthy." And this sentiment is entirely valid. As Zora Neale Hurston's heroine Janie Crawford said in Their Eyes Were Watching God, "you've got to go there to know there", and it's not fair for those who have never sat down to dinner with you to make unfounded assumptions or cast judgment about you in any form. But as someone who has struggled with disordered eating as a way of coping with a variety of traumas--some told and some hidden from even my husband and closest friends--I know there.
In college, I walked on to a Big Ten, Division 1 swim team. It was a no-nonsense female coach, Kathleen Milloy, who called me out when I was nineteen for working out too hard and eating too little; "I noticed your back is getting really narrow," she euphemistically worried out loud. She had the cojones to gently help me notice that my performance was suffering in things mattered to me greatly--swimming, academics, and friendships--and that I was hurting myself by trying too much for my own damned good.
Your talent for beautifying things and places is clear. It's incredibly easy for us detail-oriented, focused women to overdo it in the name of self-improvement and health. But there is no need to prove anything to anyone by using your body as a teardown-and-rework.
For your daughter, and for the young women who follow your forays on TV and Instagram, please don't renovate yourself on the outside. I won't talk at you about eating disorder recovery or body dysmorphia. But for me, I needed the "foundation work" of therapy before I could feel beautiful or understand that I'm good even with some fluffier throw pillows on my backside. I needed to work through grief and accept a lack of control over some things, and this may or may not resonate with you. In any case, I hope that when you look in the mirror you see a woman who doesn't need ripping down and is worth cherishing.
As-is, and with no concessions.
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