Someone recently sent me a message about body shaming. Great, I thought! I love hearing other people’s opinions about topics I’m passionate about! However, this person suggested that because I was body confident, it was somehow ‘unfair’ and ‘inappropriate’ for me to talk about body shaming. Now, I’m not a beagle either but I still get angry about animal testing, so the idea that because I have developed a healthy relationship with my body somehow excludes me from entering discourse about the ways in which body shaming is shoved at us from all angles really pisses me off.
I have spoken before about the issues I have had with my body in the past; hospitalised with an eating disorder, lots of self loathing and a masochistic tendency to follow those who hurt my confidence BUT now? Yep. I love my body. I love how it feels, how it can feel. I love its softness, its curves, how it gets me from one place to another. I love the fact that I can decorate it how I want, and how I can push it to its limits. My body is great. So is yours.
What isn’t great however, is body shaming. This idea that somehow our bodies need work, improving, and that unless we look a certain way, the way we do look is wrong. Magazines are rife with articles at the moment about ‘bikini bodies,’ with diet tips, advice on how to ‘look good on the beach’ this summer and suggestions of products to ‘fix’ the issues we have. Products to ‘instantly slim’ or ‘contour,’ ‘highlight,’ ‘cover up’ or ‘hide.’ It’s a whole bullshit bag of bad vibes that we are hitting ourselves with everytime we buy a copy or click on a link.
It isn’t just ‘fat shaming’ that’s prevalent. There seems to be a focus on attacking slim women as well; turning on each other. ‘Real men like curves’ is a phrase I’ve seen thrown around a lot on-line, single handedly symbolically annihilating a massive percentage of the female population from the possibility of being found attractive by the opposite sex. We seem to find fault with each other much faster than we do with a system that attacks bodies and shames them into feeling inadequate. How can someone with a toned tum feel bad about their thighs? How can someone with big boobs complain about their bum? How can she, with her long hair and big lips possibly feel down about her height etc? It’s as if we have a check list of what’s good and we try and weigh up everyone’s scores against our own.
It’s insulting actually to assume that men have one type of person they find attractive. To imply that there is a homogeneous version of femininity that they are drawn to. Just like some of my friends don’t understand my passion for Ricki Hall, or me their predilection for Gosling, men have different ideas of what they might want in a bed buddy. Which is ok, you know? Every lock has a key and all that jazz. We all have different ‘types’ and that’s part of our charm. Some of my best babes hate the idea of kissing a man with a full beard; for me, that’s a requisite. Others like a blonde man with no chest hair whereas I’d be swiping left on that so fast, my phone would probably stall. Why then, do we assume that men can only find one type of beauty beautiful?
Women do have a much tougher time in the media than men do. Men can change in size and still hold down the best movie roles, still get the girls, still earn the big bucks. Women on the other hand, are expected to be thin at whatever phase of their life they are in; pregnancy, post birth, puberty. If they breathe out for a second and get papped by some low life hiding in a bush, they end up plastered on the front page of a magazine captioned with some bullshit about ‘letting themselves go,’ ‘possible pregnancy bump?!’ ‘eating for two!’ or ‘sod the diet!’ All dressed up with exclamation marks and faux support – ‘just like us!!!’ as if somehow, laying into a woman about her body is fair game. As if there is a ‘normal’ body size to be and inviting us to pass judgement. It’s just hideously sad that some women spend so much of their time thinking about the circumference of their thighs or worrying about how they look in a bikini – driven in part by magazines and media outlets that peddle body shaming on a daily basis. We are encouraged to be blown away by a model’s lean, lithe frame or laugh at a celebs ‘food baby.’ We have whole blogs dedicated to the best boobs, the best butts on instagram. It invites competition and self deprecation, self harm and loathing when we don’t see ourselves as measuring up to the ideal.
I don’t get how our bodies became synonymous with our successes, our achievements? Why every magazine I pick up has more space dedicated to changing your face, your style and your hair than it does to any life issues or advice on how to get ahead in the work place. Cellulite does not render a woman incapable of running a business. Chubby knees are not a hindrance when it comes to passing a degree and yet you’d be forgiven for thinking that only size 0 women, with long blonde locks and a D cup can get anywhere in life. I hate body shaming, and will continue to do so even if I like myself in a two piece. Hope that is ok with you.