It’s been four years or so since I wrote “Why I’m learning to love my body, and why you should learn to love yours too“, in which I discussed why we should cut ourselves some slack when it comes to liking, even (gasp!) loving our bodies. This post will be a little more ranty (and I may invoke my right to be sweary too).
Right now, in this very moment, I freaking LOVE my body. Not in spite of my so-called imperfections but BECAUSE of them. And who gets to decide what “imperfections” I may have anyway? Who gets to lay down the law about what “attractive” means and whether I meet those standards? There’s nothing new about women’s bodies being a battleground. Since time immemorial women have been subjugated, enslaved, seen as inferior, demonised, abused, commoditised, over-sexualised – I could go on and on. Yes indeed we have come a long way, but anyone who thinks we are “there”, that feminism isn’t needed, or that there aren’t still, despite this being 2016, women around the world being treated as per the above sentence is very much deluded.
A woman’s appearance is still judged by a certain set of socially accepted parameters. Heck, even our actions and intentions are judged by our appearance. If a woman is attacked it is seen as perfectly reasonable to question whether her clothing was partly or wholly to blame. How and why is that OK? We currently have a “code”, largely driven by the media based on what is deemed attractive (to men) in a woman. Hairless pre-pubescent like bodies, pert breasts, tiny waists, flat stomachs, thigh-gaps, flawless skin, even the size and length of our labia is apparently up for judgement and criticism. And god forbid we should ever look like we recently gave birth to a human! This view is largely unattainable by most women and so we are judged and derided based on our failings to live up to this socially accepted standard. Worst of all, we hate and deride ourselves for our lack of so-called perfection. It’s socially unacceptable to go against this self-hating obsession. Women who like their appearance are “vain” and “sluts”. On the flip-side, women who don’t conform to beauty standards are “lazy”, “ugly” and worse. Multi-million pound industries are built around women’s lack of self-confidence in their bodies. And this is where my biggest gripe lies today, so here I am genuinely bucking this trend: Fuck this social policing of women’s bodies, and fuck this idea that my body exists for anyone other than me. I am the one who gets to decide what is acceptable for me because this is my body. I own it, it does not exist for anyone other than me and I am the one who has to live in it, so I choose how it looks, and more importantly, how I feel about how it looks. And I freaking LOVE my damn awesome body. Now if only we could spread this apparently revolutionary idea like a glorious virus that infects humankind!
Go on, be kind to yourself, I dare you!