Something weird just happened. I was sitting in the car with my friend. We’ll call her Light. Light’s driving and she’s telling me about how she’s going away with her boyfriend to someplace warm and she’s going to be going to the beach a lot (#jealous). I asked Light if she was excited and she said she was, but she told me that the thing that was on her mind the most, of all things, was her body.
It’s funny, because a few years ago I would have been right there with her. I would’ve nodded my head in agreement, said something like “I hear that” and would’ve moved right along with the conversation… because what she said was very normal. And before I discovered (and promptly proceeded to drown myself in) the body positivity world a few years ago, thoughts about my body were totally commonplace. Especially if I was about to go someplace where I was expected to wear a bathing suit. 👙
Anyway, back to the conversation. After Light told me that her body was on her mind, instead of nodding in agreement, I asked her why it was on her mind instead. I was curious. I wanted to hear her take. And I was surprised actually, as someone who is newly acquainted with getting angry, at how unexpectedly pissed I found myself, as I realized how NORMAL Light’s comment was, and how just a few years prior I would’ve done nothing more than nodded in agreement… and in the process also affirmed that YES, Light was right to keep using a significant amount of her brain power worrying about what her body was going to look like on her vacation.
I wasn’t angry at Light of course… How could anyone be angry at Light herself? ✨
But I was angry that this is the world we live in. One where women are expected and encouraged to spend large amounts of their precious time and energy worrying about how much physical space they take up in the world. That fact to me is infuriating. And the fact that it’s not infuriating or even questioned by so many men and women actually only makes it that much more infuriating.
So I asked Light why and we went on to have a great conversation… about how we both are very aware that society has warped our views of bodies. And this is not how things should be. But how it’s still hard to live from a place of having genuine love for our bodies because of how we’ve been conditioned.
It made me sad and mad and most of all MOTIVATED to do something about this. What can we as women do to change the world we’re living in? (Serious question). How can we say with our actions that enough is enough already? We refuse to waste another ounce of our energy focusing on the size of our bodies and we pledge to start celebrating bodies, our own and our sisters’, for how inherently beautiful they are.
I know there is a lot we can do when it comes to activism and really making our voices heard in big, loud ways, but I think the most revolutionary thing we can do every day is so so simple.
It is to stand in our bodies, out in the open, just… proud. As is. And say HERE I AM. Look at me if you want. Or don’t. But look at me with eyes of RESPECT. I look different than every single other person on this beach (and on this planet) and I LOVE that. And you don’t have to love my body if you don’t want to, but you DO have to respect it. And you are not allowed to shame me through encouragement or complacency of body hatred, objectification, or anything of the like.
I’ve done a lot of work the last few years…. Through therapy, immersing myself in the bopo world, positive affirmations, prayer, etc. and I have only recently come to a place of TRULY loving my body, and TRULY loving everyone else’s bodies. Of course I am not perfect, but I am so happy (and proud and grateful) to be able to honestly say that the first thing my mind jumps to when it comes to my body and others’ bodies is not judgment. It’s beauty and appreciation and celebration, which I think – I REALLY THINK AND BELIEVE – is how it ought to be, and dare I say is how it WAS once… for all of us… before we first realized that our society categorizes bodies into fat, skinny, good, bad, healthy, unhealthy, worthy, unworthy… There was a day before our minds were tainted, when there was a lack of judgment when it came to our bodies. And I think I’m coming back home to that place. And can I just say that damn it feels GOOOOOOD to be home. And it’s for that reason that it makes me infuriated and heartbroken when friends like Light (when I ask them what they’re excited about for their vacation with their partner) say to me that they’ve actually been thinking most about their bodies.
Mind you, I recognize that I am coming at this whole topic from a place of immense privilege, being on the relatively small side. It makes me ALL the more infuriated to think that my friends of size have not only been subjected to this societally fucked up world where thinness and smallness is praised, but also where they are bullied, harassed, looked down upon, and judged openly, verbally, and cruelly because they are not what mainstream media/culture has deemed ideal this century. It’s beyond heartbreaking that this is the reality we live in.
With things like the body positivity movement, I do still have hope though. And I believe that things are changing when it comes to bodies and body image, slowly but surely… just as I believe they are also changing (again, slowly but surely) when it comes to the rights and treatment of women in general, minorities, people of color, LGBTQ+, the underprivileged, the differently abled, ++++. I think this is right in line with all of that and I PRAY this conversation looks worlds different in 5, 10, 15, 50 years from now.
STILL. There is a lot of work to be done. And I LONG for the day when all of us know and LIVE from a place of knowing that size does not reflect health or goodness or worth. Some of the healthiest (and HAPPIEST) people I know are people of size. And vice versa. Small does not equal healthy. Large does not equal unhealthy. Skinny does not equal better or prettier.
Beyond that, I long for the day when we ALL, ALL PEOPLE, live in a world where each unique, different body (big, tiny, and everything in between) is revered and appreciated and seen as the unequivocally, undeniably, absolutely BEAUTIFUL creation that it is.
If we keep taking up space unapologetically, I have hope that our world will soon see:
as PURE and UTTER BEAUTY!!!!
This is the world we are headed towards. I feel it in my bones. This is the world we have the power to create. NO MORE WASTING our precious time and thoughts on what we look like, or how we can become smaller, or how we can try to make our already BEAUTIFUL body look like someone else’s body.
Your creative energy is worth way too much to be wasted on trying to take up less space in such a big world.
And your body is only beautiful if it’s YOURS.
Sigh. I could go on. But for now:
I love you, just the way you are. I hope you know how beautiful you are. (Yes, you, reading this right now).
P.S. Sending love to all the men out there. I know that men have their own set of body expectations (and not all of you are contributing to the objectification or shaming of women’s bodies), but this has just been my experience as a woman, so that is what I can speak to most easily.
P.S.#2 What has your experience been like (man or woman) with body image stuff? Does any of this resonate with you? Not so much? Would love to hear about what it’s been like for you. 🙂