I often bemoan the internet for being the harbinger of awful, terrible things. Which isn’t false… as you know, but it has also bred really great movements, that bring people together. The body positivity movement is one of them. As you know, I have lots to say on how women should unite in a bra-burning-esque troupe of awesome, but it really starts with you. With the individual woman. And as we know, or should know if you don’t, there is no wrong way to be a woman.
I grew up for the most part without a stable father figure – and hold the daddy issue jokes – I had one, a grandfather, but if I was shopping for awesome, stable male influence I probably wouldn’t have picked him. Although he has taught me lots, he has taken away even more. My grandfather is a complex human being, with obvious deeply engrained complexes about the roles of women and men in society. While he held my intelligence in high regard, he held the shape and size of my body in an unbelievably low one. From a young age, I was hyper aware of the fact that I had bigger hips, a pouch on my belly and gap-less thighs. I was aware of these things because it was pointed out to me, by my grandfather, that I ought to do something about it. I was asked on more than one occasion if I was pregnant and I was always given the up and down with an eye roll to let me know that my current size wasn’t adequate. I lingered for a long time in a state of self-hatred. Why wasn’t I blessed with a thin frame like some of my cousins? Why did I have this big mid section but this small upper body?
So … I spent most of my life wearing loose tops, ones that came down below my bum because I loved leggings and was unfortunately blessed with sprinkles of cellulite on the back of my thighs. I never wore tight fitting dresses, and when I did I worked myself into a pair of Spanx that served little to no purpose other than to leave me with a decreased lung capacity. All these things that I did, some subconsciously and some consciously, to fit myself into a mould that I understood for a long time, existed for women, and only women. It wasn’t until a beautiful soul gifted me a full-length mirror, that my mother thinks is too forgiving, that I realized … what was I so afraid of? All this time? That someone would see that I have extra fat around my stomach? That someone would see I have wide-set hips? WHAT! I need a pouch to keep the bees, and I need big hips to house possible HUMANS. That’s what they’re for. Please don’t mistake, I’m not judging or thinking less of women who do have a thigh gap or who are slender. Like I said, there is no wrong way to be a woman. My mirror, who I’ve named Lola, is now my friend. Instead of avoiding mirrors like the plague, Lola now tells me that you’re you, and you’re just fine the way you are. And trust me, I still have my days where I pinch my belly fat with my fingers and try to literally rip it from my body. Days where I’m suddenly aware that my lack of a thigh gap means serious chaffing in the summer. And days where I’m confronted with the reality that most major retailers have a hard time making clothes non-slender women. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have those days, I mean who can be a beacon for obnoxious positivity and self-love every single day of their lives? No one. And if you think they are, they’re lying.
That’s not to say that I don’t exercise and try to eat right. I do that so I’m less tired and grumpy. But, even if I don’t lose weight, that’s fine. I’m just tired of looking in the mirror and thinking that I’m incomplete, that I’m a work in progress. I’m tired of Instagram perpetuating the notion that life is butterflies, and rainbows and unicorns that have 6 pack abs and thigh gaps. Everything looks better with a filter, and fuck you. Body positivity isn’t a series of moments or Instagram pictures where you’re feeling cute for like 10 seconds but the other 99% of the time you hate yourself. It’s about a consistent, never ending DARE to like yourself in spite of everything and everyone telling you otherwise.
Do you want to spend the rest of your life always anxious because the way you look isn’t aligned with what you’ve been taught your whole life? Me either! So start small, acquire a full-length mirror and stand, or sit, or do downward dog pose naked so that you can see your butt hole (WordPress auto corrected ‘butt hole’ to ‘buttonhole’ and I feel like that’s amazing) and all of your belly, boobies and that weird fat in the armpit area hanging down with gravity. Whatever you need to do, but do it once a day. Every day walk by and cat call yourself or whisper mantras of gratitude – under your breath – because you feel silly talking into thin air. Every day. Say something nice about yourself. Baby steps. Because the ONE person you’re stuck with your whole damn life, is you. Best not to hate ourselves for the entire 80 years we’re here, ya?
Be you be true baby.