,

Body Bashing: There is No Wrong Way to Have a Body

 

I am tired, tired, tired of the “Real Women Have Curves” bullshit floating around Facebook.  Yes, I have curves.  Sometimes I love them and often I hate them.  I have major body image issues.  They play on my mind every day, every hour.  They dictate the choices I make, the mood I’m in, what I eat/don’t eat, the activities I engage in and so much more. Who isn’t plagued with the same sorts of thoughts?

Skinny people?

Yeah, think again.  Nearly all the women I talk to (and a good handful of the men) have body image issues.  We ALL have body insecurities.  Even the “perfect” looking people.

Our response to a thin person voicing body image insecurities is almost always a dismissive: “Oh, come on!  YOU!? Fat? Imperfect!? HA! You’re gorgeous! Don’t be silly!  Come crying to me when you have to deal with this *grabs pillowy belly*

Think before you open your mouth.  Think before you post that Marilyn Monroe vs. thin woman photo on Facebook.    How is referring to someone as “skeletor” any better than calling them a “fat sack of lard?”  Would you ever dream of accusing someone of being inferior based on the color of their skin?  No?  Then why is it acceptable to discredit someone based on the size of their skin?

My reality may not be yours.  Your reality may not be theirs.  But guess what? Everyone’s reality feels very REAL to them.  Don’t make assumptions about others and don’t judge based on appearances.  And certainly don’t talk down about others to make your own reality fit more comfortably.  Most of us, no matter our size, are uncomfortable in our own skin.

Give this article on skinny bashing a read.   Now let this bounce around your brain a while:

 

Real Women

“Excuse me while I throw this down, I’m old and cranky and tired of hearing the idiocy repeated by people who ought to know better.

Real women do not have curves. Real women do not look like just one thing.

Real women have curves, and not. They are tall, and not. They are brown-skinned, and olive-skinned, and not. They have small breasts, and big ones, and no breasts whatsoever.

Real women start their lives as baby girls. And as baby boys. And as babies of indeterminate biological sex whose bodies terrify their doctors and families into making all kinds of very sudden decisions.

Real women have big hands and small hands and long elegant fingers and short stubby fingers and manicures and broken nails with dirt under them.

Real women have armpit hair and leg hair and pubic hair and facial hair and chest hair and sexy moustaches and full, luxuriant beards. Real women have none of these things, spontaneously or as the result of intentional change. Real women are bald as eggs, by chance and by choice and by chemo. Real women have hair so long they can sit on it. Real women wear wigs and weaves and extensions and kufi and do-rags and hairnets and hijab and headscarves and hats and yarmulkes and textured rubber swim caps with the plastic flowers on the sides.

Real women wear high heels and skirts. Or not.

Real women are feminine and smell good and they are masculine and smell good and they are androgynous and smell good, except when they don’t smell so good, but that can be changed if desired because real women change stuff when they want to.

Real women have ovaries. Unless they don’t, and sometimes they don’t because they were born that way and sometimes they don’t because they had to have their ovaries removed. Real women have uteruses, unless they don’t, see above. Real women have vaginas and clitorises and XX sex chromosomes and high estrogen levels, they ovulate and menstruate and can get pregnant and have babies. Except sometimes not, for a rather spectacular array of reasons both spontaneous and induced.

Real women are fat. And thin. And both, and neither, and otherwise. Doesn’t make them any less real.

There is a phrase I wish I could engrave upon the hearts of every single person, everywhere in the world, and it is this sentence which comes from the genius lips of the grand and eloquent Mr. Glenn Marla:

There is no wrong way to have a body.

I’m going to say it again because it’s important: There is no wrong way to have a body.

And if your moral compass points in any way, shape, or form to equality, you need to get this through your thick skull and stop with the “real women are like such-and-so” crap.

You are not the authority on what “real” human beings are, and who qualifies as “real” and on what basis. All human beings are real.

Yes, I know you’re tired of feeling disenfranchised. It is a tiresome and loathsome thing to be and to feel. But the tit-for-tat disenfranchisement of others is not going to solve that problem. Solidarity has to start somewhere and it might as well be with you and me.”


~Hanne Blank

2 replies
  1. Mr. Man
    Mr. Man says:

    As Mr. Man, the times where I have a dissatisfaction with my body comes from when I look at my body now versus what it was when I had the health/opportunity to work out 10-12hrs a week. It’s basically a physical representation of not having the same degree of strength, cardio conditioning, and overall fitness that I once did. My dissatisfaction is one of relativity – what I had vs. what I have now – whereas I think a lot of people’s insecurity about their body comes from what they have vs. what they think is expected of them.

    I don’t present as a stereotypically masculine man – nerdy appearance with glasses, introvert type in groups, talk about feelings all the time. In casual clothes, I don’t look imposing. Then people hug me, or sometimes roughhouse with me, and then they find out that I’m very strong for my size. They feel muscles under my shirt, or they feel themselves lifted off the ground (it’s even more fun when it’s a person of size :D ) Then they end up looking at me differently. I’m now a manlier man. And to an extent, it’s important to my identity for people to know that yeah, I’m dorky and verbose and all that, but if it comes down to it, I’m ready to throw down and come out on top. More so a masculinity thing than a body image thing, but it’s sort of bound up in the same.

    I agree with your notion that we shouldn’t make assumptions on people based on looks – the fat lady may have enviable cholesterol numbers and a heart rate like a horse, and the skinny dude might have horrible arterial clogging and can’t run a block without wheezing. However, it belies the fact that we’re visual creatures with cognitive hierarchies, and we instinctively make quick judgments on fleeting appearances all the time. To me, the key lies in how we consciously address those thoughts that will flit in our head.

    The fact is, if we see someone with a black eye, I think few would fault us for assuming it came as a result of some sort of altercation. I used to train in boxing, and I heard stories from women I trained with how they’d get approached all the time in bathrooms about if they were being abused or not. To a degree, this is the same cognitive pattern as looking at someone who’s very skinny and making the presumption that it’s a result of behavioral choices (diet, exercise, etc).

    Until we reach a point where we can change the cultural narrative about body image, I think it can only be addressed on a grass-roots level.

    Reply
  2. Bianca James
    Bianca James says:

    I absolutely agree that concepts of body acceptance and health at every size MUST include thin women and women with so called “perfect women.”

    However, I also feel like it is necessary to acknowledge that no matter how insecure a thin or conventionally attractive woman is, she does have privilege that fat women and other women with “undesirable bodies” do not have- including assumptions that we are morally corrupt and sloppy, de-sexualization or being viewed as only good as a last resort drunken hookup, employment discrimination, etc. There’s a term for it- the “halo effect”- which means the assumption that people who are physically beautiful are automatically “good” people and are generally treated better- by store clerks, more likely to be hired for jobs- considered “girlfriend material” by guys who want to date a girl “out of their league” etc. I also am very aware that being conventionally beautiful can lead to a ton of unwanted attention and objectification as well.

    I see this issue as a bit akin to men and feminism- the patriarchy and gender roles absolutely do hurt men in spite of the privileges they enjoy. Likewise, a conventionally beautiful woman deals with a ton of bullshit and limitations in spite of being viewed as more “valuable” in the eyes of society than a plain woman. I think fat women and other women do need positive images to reinforce their feelings of self worth, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of women that are thin.

    The other thing that I need to bring up- and this happens in discussions of race, feminism, etc. as well- is often I’ll write something about the struggles I experience being fat, discrimination, etc. and a thin friend will reply saying it’s just as hard because someone told her to eat a sandwich the other day. Now, I understand that that’s also valid and fucked up, but it also detracts from the discussion and feels dismissive when it’s framed as “well, thin women have it just as hard,” because no, it’s different. I realize it’s hard to recognize your privilege when it’s the air you breathe, but if thin friend had responded more along the lines of “wow that discrimination is fucked up, I don’t have to deal with those specific problems personally, but the other day someone told me to eat a sandwich, so I can empathise with your feelings of being judged on the basis of your body.” And maybe that’s what the friend is trying to convey with the original comment, but the reality is that body privilege is very real, and that needs to be put into perspective and included in dialogues about body image as well.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.