I think Amy and I have been operating on the same brain wavelength lately because girlfriend just keeps posting stuff that echoes the thoughts that are running around my brain. Last week she did a series all about loving your body and embracing yourself, which obviously= awesome. To some degree, I've felt that I don't have a place in a discussion about body acceptance. I've never had an eating disorder, I have a pretty regular body in that I'm neither under nor over weight, I've never felt a lot of pressure to look differently or have a different body (other than wanting bigger boobs when I was in junior high and high school), and I have never hated my body. I don't have a moving story about how I overcame an eating disorder or lost a ton of weight. But, at the same time, I feel so passionately about encouraging other women to love their bodies and selves. So I'm going to add my two cents to Amy's awesome series. And I'm going to be long-winded (sorry!).
There are a lot of things I've encountered lately that have been contributing to my thoughts on accepting yourself and embracing your own beauty (besides Amy's series). Most recently I saw a comment on a youtube trailer for the new movie "Brave" that said, "Finally, A Disney princess without perfect hair." Perfect. That word has been on my mind frequently these days. I hear a lot of talk about perfect. The perfect skin, the perfect body, the perfect hair. I hear a lot of girls say, "I'm not perfect, but, you know, I'm happy with my body." I'm kind of done with that kind of thinking. The Disney princess in Brave DOES have perfect hair. It's wild and free and vibrant and gorgeous! How is that not perfect?
I have cellulite on my thighs, my skin isn't taut and tan, and I have ruddy cheeks. How is that not perfect? Who is to say what perfection is? Who is this mystery person, this mystery committee, who has determined that a certain body, skin, and hair is "perfect" and the best the rest of us can do is say, "well, I know I'm not perfect, but I'm happy with my body." I understand that this culturally influenced concept of perfect is constantly changing with the times. Culturally, "perfect" looked much different to people in the 16th century, and "perfect" looks much different in other cultures around the globe. I want to stop thinking about perfect being something that is dictated by culture, though. I want to take back the word perfect and own it.
Somewhere along the lines, in this culture, "perfect" has come to mean manicured and "flawless." Every. Single. Photograph in fashion magazines is photoshopped within an inch of it's life. Human bodies are stripped of their pores, their freckles, their bulges and wrinkles. And we've come to accept that this is perfection. That removing every sign of life, every wrinkle we've acquired from laughing with friends late into the night, every slightly yellowed tooth from too many cups of coffee while reading our favorite book, every freckle from days spent in the sun, every bulge from enjoying delicious food... is what perfection looks like.
I want to look everyone in the eye and tell them that they. are. perfect. Cellulite is perfect. Thunder thighs are perfect. Crazy curly hair is perfect. Small breasts are perfect. To me, those are things that society's version of perfect would tell me are flaws for my body, but replace those with things you see as flaws on your body! What are the things that you look in the mirror and sneer at? Reject the voices that tell you that those are imperfections. Replace those voices with ones that tell you how beautiful those "flaws" are.
I am healthy and active (most of the time). I am happy. I am loved. Is that not perfection? No, I'm supposed to hate my body, the one I get to spend my whole life experiencing the world through, instead. I refuse that. I'm not going to hate my body because I have big thighs and cellulite, or a belly pooch that won't go away no matter how many crunches I do, or because my arms are thicker and shorter than the arms models have, or because my hair is huge and unruly. And you shouldn't hate your body because it's skinny, or lumpy, or concave, or convex, or because you have big boobs, or because you barely have any boobs, or because your skin has a condition, or because you're hairy, or because you have thin hair, or because you have dark skin, or because you aren't tan, etc. etc. You are perfect and valuable because you are a human life. And what a shame it would be to spend your entire life hating the one body you have. The body through which all experiences are filtered in this world.
I love this little clip of Eve Ensler. I think she communicates much more succinctly what I've been babbling on about for many paragraphs...
Once we get rid of this notion that perfection is a mold that each of us, with our infinite differences, must try to squeeze into, it's easy to see that perfection is totally and completely individual. I am perfect. You are perfect. If you're a magazine model, you are perfect. If you're a size 16, you are perfect. If you've had a limb amputated, you're perfect. If you have Down's Syndrome, you are perfect. If you're Cinderella, you're perfect. If you're Merida, you're perfect. We are all composed of "imperfections" and instead of counting our flaws in the mirror, we should take back ownership of the word "perfection". Own it. You own perfection. Perfection doesn't own you. You may think it's easier for women who do fit the current beauty ideal to love their bodies, but I guarantee that every woman has felt the sting of the word "perfect," and we can't go around saying, "well, it must be easy for you to love your body."
I realize that the issue of body size and body acceptance is a complex one. There are many discussions about health and weight going on which are related to body acceptance. I'm all for health and changing your body in the interest of becoming more healthy. I know Tieka has shared her experience with losing a lot of weight after starting to live a healthier lifestyle, which is great. If someone wants to change their body because they hate it, I suppose that's your prerogative, but I wish people would want to become healthier because they love their body instead. And if healthy ends up looking different than the image you had in your mind, that should be okay.
Today I'm taking Amy literally and embracing my inner pin-up. Well, with these photos, I guess I'm letting my inner pin-up out for the day. It's a bit awkward and extremely vulnerable to post bikini photos on the internet, but here I am. You might think I'm too skinny, too fat, or "perfect" but I don't care what you think, because frankly what you think doesn't matter (and if you feel like leaving a comment letting me know that you think I'm too fat or skinny, I'm much obliged to delete that shit). I'm loving the body I have and I'm owning perfect.
As a disclaimer, I realize that the discussion about body image, society, and beauty is a hot button issue. Everyone seems to feel pretty strongly about this topic (quite literally, we women have a lot of skin in the game, and things get personal pretty fast) and sometimes the discussion can devolve into bashing one another with hurtful words. If you'd like to contribute to this discussion in the comments, feel free to do so! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic, but please remember to be respectful.
*My intensedebate commenting seems to have gone down, so blogger comments have taken over. If you've written a comment before w/ the intensedebate commenting, don't worry! It's still there and I can read them, they just won't show up on my blog.*