My friend Nona over at The Frisky posted this great list of Better Body Affirmations for Young Women and that, along with several other things I have come across this week, makes me want to talk about body positivity.
Man, you guys. I both do and don’t want to write a post about body positivity.
I mean, seriously. There are so many wonderful people on the internet doing a FANTASTIC JOB of covering it. I confess, I don’t read them all. Here are a few good links to get you started, if you’re unaware of the body positivity movement. Sally from Already Pretty, Luvin’ My Curves. Fuck Yeah Body Positivity, Body Positivity for Guys, and Body Positive Tips are good places to get started.
And I’m not an expert. I can’t say I speak for the entire community. This is just my opinion and me trying to form words about something that bothers me. Please help me clarify or expound further if I say something that upsets you, because I am tooootally not posting this to hurt anyone’s feelings.
I’ve seen people roll their eyes at body positivity because THERE IS THIS ASSUMPTION THAT people who are happy with themselves and don’t fit into what is an “accepted size” aren’t “healthy” which, in this day and age, basically means they are terrible slobs who deserve to die faster than everyone else and also, go back to your cave, troll. Isn’t that a terrible way to look at people? Our advertising and society nonstop tells us that we aren’t good enough, cute enough, fit enough.
So much about opinion about someone’s body size depends on the assumption that “they want to be that way”. I don’t believe that body shape is a decision. I have friends who aren’t athletic and don’t make an effort to eat like rabbits who maintain a size 2-3 with ease. I also have friends who are SUPER athletic and healthier than anyone I know and they remain a size 10-12 because that’s just the diameter of their hips. But really, the point of LIFE shouldn’t be to change your vessel, your own piece of life, to be something that a vague collective of society says is “acceptable”. Fuck society. No, really. According to society, if you’re too big, you’re disgusting. If you’re too skinny, eat a cheeseburger.
Dude. Eat what you want. Make the choice for yourself. Food is delicious. If you love salads, well, I think you’re kind of crazy, but it’s cool, I’ll just be here, inhaling pulled pork like there’s no tomorrow. Do you want some cake? Let’s have some cake, too. Man. Cake. Cake is so good.
Okay, I’m getting off on a tangent there.
This is the part where I talk about me.
One time I watched a tattoo documentary and it featured a young man with a giant back piece of a dragon fighting a tiger. When asked to explain his tattoo, he basically said that the dragon was his bad side and the tiger was his good side, and that the two were locked in an eternal struggle for dominance. My tiger is probably my self esteem, and my dragon… the perceived size of my body? How I feel about my health? Society’s opinion on my stature? I’m not sure quite how to describe it, but I have always been locked in a wrestling match between how I feel about myself and how I think I look to the world. I know internally that I will probably always struggle with my own body. I’ll always dislike that one mole, the front of my scarred knees, or wish my boobs fit into the dress that is either too big or too small (depending on the day).
I think that we all have to figure out, as we grow up, how to learn to love our physical selves through our struggles. To value our details as we dislike others or wish the arbitrary number on our jeans was a smaller or bigger number. To give ourselves a pep talk when we beat ourselves up. And to dress the way we want, not the way society wants us to.
These are things I don’t want to be:
A person who posts on Facebook photos of large women in clothing with disparaging remarks.
A person who assumes anyone is the shape or size they are because they are lazy or terrible or disgusting.
A person who is hateful.
I am currently starting on a new fitness routine that I am Very! Excited! About! I am proud of myself for forcing my body to jump through hoops and do squats because I really really enjoy not moving and looking at tumblr. But I am doing it while I am happy with myself. I want my shape to be harder, buffer, stronger. I want to be more comfortable lifting heavy things and not feel like a dumbass when I don’t have the grip strength to turn a screw. Yeah, I guess that’s a choice, but it is my choice and my choice alone. It isn’t something I can assume that will work for everyone I know, or a choice I mean to inflict on anyone. I really hope I can get buff and stay the size I am, honestly. I like being a size 10!
“Kiss your own fingertips
and hug your own curves.
You are made of waves and honey
and spicy peppers when it is necessary.
You are a goddess,
I hope you haven’t forgotten.” – Emery Allen
I love my body.
I hope you love yours.
As an addendum: this slam-poetry performance (is that what it’s called?) has been going around Tumblr lately, and wow, just. WOW.
It opens up a completely different topic about gender roles and society and generations of women but I can’t help but feel like it needs to be included in this post.