Tag: body love
My body is changing. In the last year, I’ve gained an inch or two around – everywhere. I know this because sometimes I can be a little self conscious, but if you no longer fit into any of your jeans, wouldn’t you be a little annoyed? Besides being heavier than I’ve ever been, I’m also more out-of-shape than ever. So in a recent conversation I mentioned a meeting with a trainer, and a friend asked me, “Like … at a gym? Why do YOU need a trainer? That’s silly!” I thought about it – I want to fit into the clothes I own. I’d also like to be able to run up a flight of stairs without gasping like a fish out of water! From the outside this might seem like a thin-obsession, but it’s more about knowing what makes me feel good.
I asked body-positive blogger, Jessica from Tangled Up In Lace, about this phenomenon:
The whole flipping point of Body Acceptance is that NO MATTER what you decide your body’s path is, its perfect for you. Its a matter of thinking critically about WHY you want to do what you want to do with your body. I’m so behind self care and deciding what healthy means to you
No one ever has the right to put value on how someone handles their own body.
And Ashe from Dramatis Personae pointed out:
There hasn’t been a point in my life where my body wasn’t solely my own concern. My parents were always worried about me being too fat as a child, when I really wasn’t more than chubby. Instead of teaching me to eat right, they just tried to ban foods from my diet. It wasn’t ever about health, it was about appearance.
In the past 2 months, I’ve had one close friend and one acquaintance call me fat. And the fact is, it made me more angry than anything. Who the hell are they to make comments on my body? As far as I’m concerned, my weight is the concern of me, my doctor, and my partner– in that order.
The media doesn’t help– since I was a kid, magazines had covers boasting the weight loss of stars, while tabloid magazines trashed the weight gains and struggles of others. They’ve taken women’s bodies and made them public property, free for all to make comments on, without regard to the fact that there are people inside those bodies.
Women should do, simply, what makes them feel good without being detrimental to their health. If eating a cupcake on a bad day makes you feel better, do it! If going on a 5 mile run makes you feel great after a fight with you best friend, do it. Every goal I have for my own body and weight is, for the first time in my life, strictly for me. It’s about feeling a certain way, going back to a place where I was happy, and was living a life in moderation.
My friend Carrie is undertaking a fitness/body challenge – she’s recently competed in figure competitions. She does it because “It makes me feel strong, confident, sexy, invincible… I’ve realized that I loved the process leading up to it much more than the competition itself. The way I feel when I take care of myself by eating right and working out is enough motivation for me now. There’s nothing better than feeling great!”
Although she does it for the best reasons, she’s still subject to body-shaming. She adds:
It’s much easier to cut a person down or discourage them because of your own issues than be unconditionally supportive. I see this in all aspects of my life, but never moreso than going through this fitness/body transformation journey… and I STILL get it even after all this time. The comments change but story is the same, the people belittling my effort, & my goals seem threatened by it. They are happier if I’m not doing than if I am.
Honestly, the more I think about it, that whole “you’re fine just the way you are” thing really gets to me. Because if [someone] mentions a desire to change… why not improve? There shouldn’t be anything wrong with that (outside of like you said, extreme situations where there’s something else going on). I really think it goes back to making the rest of us uncomfortable… it’s been much easier for the masses to say, “love yourself the way you are” than for ALL of us to have to take an honest look at ourselves and either accept what we know we don’t like, or … work fucking hard to make changes. Change isn’t easy, especially when it comes to matters of eating/exercise and the discipline that involves.
I felt a little shame as I headed to my gym appointment, because obviously I love me, right? Why should I get the side-eye, because I want to be healthier and stronger? There’s this derisiveness towards my hitting the gym as if these people think I’m deluding myself about why I go. I feel like we (Everybody. Women. Ourselves. Each other.) are so programmed to snark on women’s bodies, regardless of the situation – whether they’re curvaceous or thin or fit or waiflike or brown or purple or like cheese or whatever. We’re totally missing the point of just caring for ourselves.
As this post titled, The Body Count from “At War With Our Bodies” adds,
Body image should never be a battle. Although it is true that the ideal weight, as defined by the mass media, has been shrinking in recent years I am more disheartened by this attitude of “winning” and “losing” than I am by the media’s glorification of a nearly unattainable body. People are losing sight of the real problem maker, the media, and aiming their frustrations at each-other by splitting off into teams of sorts ; us against them, skinny against fat, muscular against frail… it just doesn’t make sense.
While I am 100% behind the Fat Acceptance Movement and all of the more generalized Body Acceptance Movements, I cannot get behind their unintentional exclusion of certain body types. For instance, the phrase used by many FA Activists, real women have curves**, really bothers me. Real women have curves? How about; real women have vaginas? Or even better; all women are real women, whether they were born female or became female by choice. By excluding women of a certain body type from being “real” women these groups are participating in the same exclusion they protest… that hardly seems like winning to me.
[These two sentiments] are both equally damaging as they deny people their right to feel comfortable with their body, regardless of what shape it is. One sentiment may be more mainstream than the other, however, this doesn’t make either statement right or justifiable.
I appreciate what the self-love movement does and is trying to do to liberate people from certain ideals. I also appreciate when a girl mows down a salad instead of picking pasta because she’s looking after herself (who am I to judge? Maybe she needs the fiber, right?). In my opinion, she should be able to also eat pasta if it pleases her, but jumping off on a rant about how she “needs a cheeseburger” assumes things about her that may not be true. Self acceptance comes from within – not from the peanut gallery. Self-love can mean challenging your self to become a better you. Just because you’re undertaking that challenge doesn’t mean you love you any less.
I think we could stand to stop treating women’s bodies like public property to comment on. I know that sometimes it’s hard to take a message off the ‘net and apply it in real life, and that it might be awkward to point out to your group of in-person friends when they’re body-snarking. But maybe you can turn it around.
When someone says something negative about a girl’s body, point out a positive. Or when you hear yourself saying you want to lose a few, acknowledge the reasons why and remember all the other reasons that your body is great. And then work out if you want to - if your goal is safe, and reasonable, there’s absolutely no reason why you should be ashamed of wanting to “make better”. Your choice is just that – yours.
And if you’re one of those people who constantly say “you’re fine the way you are” to your friends who express wanting to better their bodies, know your reasons for doing so. Stop to think about your reasons before you speak, because that sentiment could be inadvertently shaming. Instead of saying, “you’re fine the way you are”, try pointing out something positive, your favorite part of that person who wants to make better. Encourage them to do what they feel is right for their bodies, because ultimately that choice is theirs.
So what do you think? Angry? In agreement? Ever been subject to body shaming on either side?
Part 1 – I always feel strange writing about body issues – especially considering my size. I worry that, since I’m on the small side, I’ll be subject to a lot of negative commentary pointing out that I’ve got nothing to complain about. And that’s exactly the problem…
During a recent conversation with friends, a gal I know mentioned going on vacation and wanting to shed a few pounds for the beach. She was asking about our workout routines (for those of us who are so inclined). There were a few different camps – those who said that diet could change it, those who said that exercise could change it, those who (like me) said “get a trainer because they are magical creatures who tailor your workouts…” And then there was the camp that shamed us all, saying “That’s silly. You don’t need to go to the gym. You’re fine the way you are”.
It felt a little like saying *if you have to go to the gym you obviously don’t love you and that’s wrong* – like wanting to better your body is not a legitimate goal. I started to feel like that’s just as damaging as the whole “thin is in” campaign we see in fashion mags, etc. It’s very damned if you do, damned if you don’t – when did we start subconsciously shaming girls for wanting to care for their bodies? For striving towards becoming a better person (in whatever regard that may be)? Or for just loving and accepting themselves as they are now?
As Kate from Eat The Damn Cake says in this post: “Really, there’s probably a compromise here. If someone is trying to lose weight, I’m not standing next to them at the gym with a bag of Doritos, going, “You’re wasting your time! Want some pizza? I could really go for a pizza…” I think losing weight is a completely legitimate goal in plenty of cases. I don’t think it has to be a symptom of superficiality or self-hatred. It can be really, really healthy.”
When I shared my thoughts with Kate, she added:
“I think sometimes on my blog I lean too far in the direction of the women you were describing, who act derisive about weight loss. I don’t feel like that, but I feel pressure to act like that publicly. Reading [your note] helped me put that tendency in perspective and understand better how unfair and, like you said, shaming it can be, to emphasize either approach without giving people room to make their own decisions. Life is too complicated for extremism in either direction.”
It feels like the “real women”, body-love mantras we hear so much about are walking a fine line; we should start loving us regardless of what our body looks or seems like, but we should be ashamed of wanting to change ourselves (and, we know that certain body love movements can be very exclusionary).
While it’s great that the motto of many bod-acceptance movements is “love thyself”, I feel it’s can be healthy to both accept yourself and be a little conscious of your body, knowing its limits, knowing what it can do and what’s good for it. And if you’re comfortable with you, rock on! Work it!
But if you want to shed a couple pounds before your tropical vacation, that’s a legitimate goal. You can eat what you want, and/or be religious about exercise if that’s your thing. Being conscious of you, of how you look, of how you want to look doesn’t mean that you hate your body, or that you’re necessarily trying to conform to a thin ideal. Don’t get me wrong – there’s a lot of “thin idolatry” out there, and current beauty standards do shame girls for not having the perfect body (whether it’s Christina Hendricks or Twiggy. And, of course, this is not touching on cases where there’s something else going on etc.). But we all realize that the perfect body doesn’t exist, but in a few very lucky cases. The majority of us are gloriously imperfect. And you have the power to demonstrate enormous self love by caring about your body – whether it’s feeding it cookies or taking it for a walk.
While flipping through June’s Elle last night, (I go through it a couple times, once for the pretty pictures, once for the articles and once to tear all my favorite images out of) I stumbled across a quote that seemed incredibly relevant:
“It just reminds us how different “real” women and celebrities are when it comes to their relationship with fashion. Stars [and internet stars - my emphasis] use it to build an image; the rest of us look for clothes that connect with some inner part of ourselves – we need self expression, not a fan base.”
As the much-talked-about Blogger Beautiful post from Gala Darling points out,
“We all retouch our faces to be blemish-free, & if you only knew how many bloggers manipulate their waistlines or thighs in Photoshop! My point is, some fashion blog images are as unrealistic & idealistic as what is presented to us in magazines.”
Our relationship to the clothes, the platform, the photos are all different – but for many of us, it’s a form of self expression, not a means to a fan base. And the beauty of that is that our self expression is what keeps us beautiful, relevant, shining, bright. I sometimes wonder if, as fashion blogging becomes a bigger industry, it is becoming less creative – following the footsteps of the fashion world. I wonder that and then I remember all the unique, down-to-earth, well read and amazing people whose lives I’ve been given a peek into. And if they stopped blogging (and if you stopped blogging) and being them (your) selves, yes, fashion blogging would be less creative, less fun, and less intriguing.
When we give ourselves permission to be and feel everything we are – monstrous, large, loud, brazen, occasionally ugly – we age backward.
Translate that: when you love yourself regardless of your bad hair days, your outfit faux-pas, your gaffes in public (I’m a total goober in public, but I laugh, because it’s often hilarious!), you are nothing but inspiring – even on your non-fashionable days. When you allow you to be you, when you’re not afraid to post images of yourself, and challenge others around you to do the same, you are courageous. That’s what style blogging is all about.