I had originally planned to write this post sometime in February, inspired by listening to a lot of Margaret Cho. Obviously that did not happen, but I guess there was a reason for the delay. A few days ago Cheeseslave posted in praise of curves on women. I’m all sorts of for that, but her post also triggered some backlash from women who do not fit that body shape and felt slighted by her wording. Joy from the Liberated Kitchen weighed in with her own words as a woman with a body shape on the other side of the spectrum.
Kudos to both of them for speaking up. It’s HARD being a woman in Western culture. The body type considered ideal changes periodically and no matter what it is, there is always a group of women who do not fit into that mold and feel like they have been somehow rejected by the culture. Whether they’re super thin, or curvy, or just large, it does not matter. Somehow, by not conforming to that type, they are not women. They do not garner the same type of respect, or admiration, or ability to find clothes which look good on them because the designers of the season don’t make shapes to flatter their figures.
See this? It’s me, taken today, April 29, just a few short hours before I wrote up this post. I don’t know where my body type fits in regarding whatever is currently trendy. And frankly, I don’t much care either.
It does not matter to me what the shape of the moment is. No matter what the overculture says, I love my body.
The ability to say such a phrase, especially for women, is a political act. It’s taking power for ourselves and not letting outside forces determine how we feel about ourselves. It’s also about not beating ourselves up because we perhaps can’t fit into whatever the current fashion trends dictate. I’ve rarely been able to fit them anyway.
About ten years ago, I weighed nearly 100 pounds more than I do now. Yes you read that right. The way I lost that weight is meant for another post, but the short answer is that it took seven years and progressive diet changes (all paving the way towards a traditional foods diet incidentally) to take off that weight. Through it all, with the ups and downs and short-term frustrations, I was determined to keep loving my body even while I actively worked to reshape it.
How did I do this? It’s a simple task, and also so hard for anyone to do who is not used to it. I looked in the mirror, took in my full shape (incidentally, flabby arms, bad knees, and protruding belly included in that), and declared my love for my body.
In fact, I encourage all of you, no matter your sex, gender identity, sexuality, religion, what have you, to go find a mirror now (or as soon as possible), take in your whole form, and love everything you see. Don’t worry, I will be here when you get back. I know it’s not easy to think or to say. It gets easier as you do it more often.
I wish someone could have explained this to me when I was a teenager, though I didn’t let being a little overweight keep me from doing the things I loved. I was a synchronized swimmer for seven years, and I was not half bad at it either. Did it without being skinny, and while being asthmatic and having chronic knee issues. Maybe that helped me over the long term, since I was able to do something beautiful while being part of a society determined to tell me that I needed to be skinny in order to matter.
In fact, how many of you are letting something about your physical form keep you from doing what you love or wearing what you love? I’m not talking about extremes where it might be a big risk to your physical health. I mean not dressing nicely because you think your shape means you can’t look good. I mean not doing any physical activity because you can’t do it perfectly. Like if I let the fact that I have a slightly bigger belly than I like keep me from taking belly dance lessons. I would have missed out the last three years of study I’ve done. I’d not have one of my friends, because my teacher Lydia and I have morphed into friends as well. And I’d not be an intermediate level belly dancer now, still working on layering individual moves and moving less stiffly but I can do the foundation moves well. And I can practice dancing for an hour without feeling too winded. Even if my knees might complain about the work the next day.
We live in a world fueled by supposed quick fix diets and overly processed foods which now have us convinced that food can’t taste great without somehow being sinful. And a lot of people have made themselves sick (me included) either for starving themselves, or eating junk, or feeling so down about ourselves that we chow down on too much of whatever in an effort to feel better or perhaps make up for starving ourselves.
Does that all really matter when we’re carrying around this idea in our heads that we’re somehow less worthwhile as people because we don’t fit an ideal someone else set? Are you going to stop living your life just because some part of society wants your money because you don’t think your body is good enough?
Today I love my body.
Will you join me?
I’m sharing this post at Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Seasonal Celebration Sunday, and Freaky Friday.