Swimsuit season ;0 :O !!
And you know what that means!!!!
Time to get reacquainted with the oppressive body standards you were probably able to hide from inside bulky coats and thick black tights all winter and fall! Article after article begin to swarm your facebook feed, urging your to ask yourself, ‘is my body “bikini ready”?’ ‘Is it appropriately toned to be exhibited on the beach?’
YIKES no!!!!!! It’s really not! It never was, gentle viewers, and undoubtedly it ne’er shall be. Not only is my body not the correct size, it is also proportionally wrong; I inherited my Dad’s orangutang arms and my Mother’s thick wrists, probably designed for churning or some other agricultural tedium that I’m not using to its true advantage. I’m 5’11 so I’m also approx. 50-60 times larger than your average female human body . Honestly there’s just a lot of me.
I have spent a good chunk of my life stuffing hatred into my body like one would feathers into a pillowcase. That is time I will not get back. Then, in my early 20’s, I got a little obsessive about it. I couldn’t reconcile the fantasy I had in my head of how “human bodies should look” with how my body actually looked. This is a fairly reductive interpretation of the events that occurred, suffice it to say, during that time, I would occasionally “wake up” and find myself doing something bizarre. I ate only kidney beans for dinner, and I cried on the treadmill. I went to bed hungry and felt accomplished. It’s very easy to normalize toxic behavior, especially if no one is watching you too closely. Somebody you know is doing it right now, and it’s easy to fall prey to. So many of us carry around this intense self-loathing that it’s become commonplace. More than that, it’s encouraged. You’re seen as “other” if you’re a diet industry dropout. We are encouraged (and encourage others) to fit the mold of mainstream weight goals in tiny and often hard-to-catch ways.
The time you’re willing to spend in the gym is also a factor in how your body looks – reflected in how much a person is willing to sacrifice to get their body a certain way. You can make your body a priority in your life without exposing it to the utterly vitriolic thoughts that wander through your brain. You can also set your body size and strength at a lower priority, if that makes more sense to you. There is nothing wrong with having goals for your body, and there is also nothing wrong with not being interested in that pursuit at all. Above all else, you have to do your thing. The problem is, how much exercise you do or do not get can end up having no effect at all on how you feel about your body, or if you feel shitty about it. That won’t go away. You can’t treadmill that feeling away, it will follow you wherever you go. The pounds you lose will mean nothing if you hate yourself, because the hate will remain, regardless. The process is insidious; your ideal weight will continually change, you’ll start noticing new problems with your physique – they will creep in as quietly as church mice. You’ll keep running from them forever.
The truth is that you live in a culture that has placed a social premium on a certain type of body, but that premium is based on fads, distilled from hundreds of years of sociological and economic phenomena. The cycle perpetuates itself, and a lot of people participate in its development unknowingly, as we are molded and influenced from birth. I see and hear it all the time, from people I would consider role model adults. There’s a pervasive feeling that, as human beings and especially, human being women, we must hold a constant vigil in order to stave off the encroaching darkness. For darkness here, read: weight gain. For some of us, this is more achievable than for others. One person’s fat ass is another’s goal weight, and that’s just largely thanks to the cosmic roll of the dice that is genetics. The people that adhere to or follow these toxic social standards are not dumb or less enlightened for not seeing their place in this repeating pattern of fear and disapproval; they just haven’t yet been able to disengage from that machine.
Detaching yourself from mainstream body politics isn’t clean or easy. It’s more like slowly untangling the thousands of knots you have accidentally tied inside yourself over the period of a lifetime. Some days you’ll be clearer than others, some days you’ll give up entirely. That’s cool. The only priority is to take care of that body. Don’t hate on it, or cut on it, or stuff it into too-tight waistebands.
For God’s sake try not to compare it to other bodies.
I get it, you look at another body that fits your style and you think, dang, I want that body. Why can’t I have that body. The problem with that is you’re on a completely different trip from that body, maybe that whole GROUP of bodies LIKE it. Who knows what that body’s deal is, or where it’s going, or where it’s been until this moment. You can’t inhabit that person’s physicality, you’re doing your trajectory. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is letting things be what they already are.
That sounds like a bullshit platitude but this is the beginning of the unlearning process, where you have to take one thousand steps in order to end at the simplest answer. I don’t know why we’re like this, but we are. Here are some online resources that got me started on this bizarre and difficult trek. Your first order of business is to make an instagram and a tumblr and follow these women immediately:
Almost all of those IG names you can also find on tumblr, I would also make an effort to find
and a whole slew of others. Once you start checking out these sites, they will lead you to more users. You can follow me as well, if you’d like – right now I’m gossipgwarl on instagram.
I did try to reach past my own personal interests for some social media resources that might help a larger audience, but in truth, this is mostly just a list of plus size fashion/social justice bloggers that help me stay grounded. This is in no way reflective of what is available out there – there are resources for everyone imaginable. I also included very few male resources, and a lot of these names are white, which I don’t love, so if you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments!
Also if anybody is pissed I included them in this list, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll take you off right away. The accounts featured here are featured because A) they are wonderful people who have amazing things to say about bodies and B) their social media is a hotbed for further body positive resources. All of the accounts you see here are public accounts but, you never know. Some of these accounts are just fashion blogs, but what has helped me the most has been just seeing images of people whose bodies look like mine, everyday, relentlessly. Surround yourself with images of the kind of people that feel the way you want to feel. If you’re having trouble loving your fat body, look at fat bodies that love themselves. If you feel like you’re skinny body couldn’t possibly ever be compelling, dude, get out there and look at some hot, confident skinny bodies. The more accounts you follow, the more your feeds are populated by a brand of positivity that you can identify as genuine, the thinner the veil between the world of restrictive social norms and reality will begin to wear.
Ask yourself, what if you worked your whole life to get the body you wanted, and never got it? What if you never achieved that goal you’re reaching towards. Would that be ok? Or would you have wasted so much time feeling shitty in pursuit of something you never got to enjoy? What are you going to do if that happens? What if you never fit into the pants, or fill out a bra, or look like the actors on tv. What if you just inhabit this flawed, misshapen body for 80 years and then the lights go out and that’s all she wrote.
You have to figure out a way to be unconditionally tender! This body is silly and sick and a traitor, you have to feed it and clean it and keep it warm. It’s the animal we’re paired with, and it needs to be kept. Keep it. It’s yours, after all, try as you might. It remains, yours. Truly.