Let's Talk Bodies

I try not to get on my soapbox often because I believe that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I know that not everyone feels the same way I do about issues, and that's ok.  But today I'm busting out the soapbox to introduce you to three interesting women who have some smart, funny things to say about bodies, diets, and loving yourself.

There has been a great deal of focus on body shaming and expanding people's definition of beauty in the past few years, which I think is fantastic.  As a formerly skinny, never happy with my body, still not comfortable in my own skin, fat girl, I think it's about time.  Magazines filled with photographs of women who have gotten hours of makeup and wardrobe, special lighting, a professional photographer, and let's not forget the digital editing make us normal people, and sometimes even the women in the photographs who have been airbrushed to within an inch of being unrecognizable, feel like poo.  And I hear you now, "Well, why are you looking at those magazines," to which I say it's like a car wreck or some other morbid tragedy: You can't not look.  It's this horrible cycle of "Oh I wish I looked like them, but I've got a belly/big hips/muscly thighs/flabby arms/back fat/all of the other mean things we say about ourselves," which sometimes drives you to work out harder, but more often than not leads to consuming an entire box of cookies in a single sitting, which leads to more self loathing, and the shame spiral continues.  Now, before you get all up in arms, no the media is not responsible for my lack of self control.  It is, however, responsible for constantly exposing me to what is considered the ideal in beauty which is almost wholly unattainable by the vast majority of people, myself included, and for turning a celebrity who has gained a few pounds into a public shaming.  It is also responsible for the severe lack of diversity, but Corissa of Fat Girl Flow is one of the many trying to change that.

Thanks to Brit + Co and Cosmopolitan, I was introduced to Corissa who has started a campaign to, not only promote embracing your body, but to expand the image of the plus sized person beyond that of the size 10 - 16 (which let's face it isn't really plus sized) models.  Tess Holliday, touted as the first size 22 to 26, depending on what magazine you read, supermodel, is a great first step, but Corissa has taken it further.  She called for beautiful women who felt that their body shape and size was under represented to share photographs and celebrate their bodies.  She believes that "the impacts of mainstream media are pervasive, and when people see certain bodies touted as 'good' day in and day out, it's difficult for them to find value in a body that they've never even been exposed to."  Corissa wrote a great post about self confidence, which I think is valuable no matter what your size.

Another lady trying to teach tolerance is Loey Lane, a lover of fashion and beauty.  She has started her own vlog focused on, you guessed it, fashion and beauty, and she just so happens to be a gorgeous plus sized woman.  Loey created a vlog responding to the numerous negative comments posted about one of her look book videos.  It was her response video which caught the attention of Brit + Co, but I really like the message in Loey's Swimwear Lookbook video best.  She encourages people to say "#IAmFlawless because of my body, not despite it," which is a lesson that we should all remember.  There is value in everyone.

And finally I'd like to introduce you to Geraldine of the Everywhereist who I was introduced to through a link on a friend's Facebook page.  Geraldine's blog does not promote self love or healthy lifestyles.  It is a blunt collection of posts about Geraldine's life and travels, which she calls "A big, long, cuss-filled love letter" to her husband.  So you're probably wondering why I'm including her in this post.  Well, it's because of her post "I Went Paleo And Now I Hate Everything," which is a hilarious write up of her head first leap into what I understand to be an extremely restrictive diet with little to no research or preparation.  We've all done it, heard about the latest diet craze and immediately decided that was going to be the thing that turned us into a supermodel.  With a great deal of humor and no small amount of self deprecation, Geraldine walks the reader through the process of making "Carrot Cake Cookies" which are supposed to be a savor cookie, but ultimately end up looking like something that comes out of you, rather than something that should go in.  And again you're asking why this, while laugh until you cry and pee a little, post is included.  The answer is the comment section, and I've found the person I want to be my new bestest friend, but mostly the comment section.  People got all up in arms over this post.  Geraldine not enjoying and, admittedly, making fun of the paleo diet somehow turned into an accost on health and a promotion of all the things that are going to kill you this week, like eggs, oh wait that one was recanted, what are we sure is going to kill us this week?

I have to tell you that I looked up Corissa's slogan "These Bodies Exist And They Are Amazing" and one of the first things that popped up was a link to Redbook's Facebook page with a snippet of Corissa's blog post.  The comments were horrible!  There were a few supportive comments but by in large people wrote that these women were disgusting, promoting obesity, and should all go hide in holes because the world does not see any value in them.  I think that is pathetic and it makes me so sad that we cannot get past the surface and just applaud someone for being comfortable in their own skin.  Let's be clear here, I am not saying that everyone should go out and eat 30 donuts or if that doesn't get the sugar to your system fast enough, then just pour a bag of sugar down your throat.  What I am saying is that there are so many different beautiful people out there, in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders.  So let's see them all and let's appreciate and celebrate them for their differences.  It is ok to be fat and love yourself, this does not automatically mean that you are a fan of diabetes (and yes, I have read that argument in more than one comments section, "You're fat and you're happy with your body so you're promoting diabetes," I'm sorry, that's not logical.  Not every overweight person has diabetes and there are plenty of slim people who do have diabetes, so...And when did accepting your body become in-explicitly tied to diabetes?) or that wearing an "I hate kale" shirt has to mean more than, surprise, surprise, "I hate kale."  (Sometime people are literally saying what they mean and there is so subtext.)  Just because you love your body and are comfortable with the way it is now does not mean that that is the end of your journey.  Did you come out of the womb fully formed and remain unchanged for the rest of your life?  I didn't.  I'm pretty sure that my body is going to change a million times before I die, some more muscles here, less muscles here, extra pounds, fewer pounds...Personally I think that the size of your clothing is far less important than making sure that you are healthy and happy in your body, and I do not believe that the word healthy is limited to people who are a size 8 and smaller.  Would you rather your daughter wear a size 16 and be confident, happy, and lead a healthy, active lifestyle or would you rather she be a size 2, self conscious, hate her body, and feel like she has to exercise 6 hours a day if she eats a grain of sugar?  Let's celebrate everyone from a size 0 to whatever.  And let's try not to force our beliefs and personal hang ups on other people.  Everyone has enough insecurities of their own, they don't need your's too.

***Update: On July 14th BuzzFeed reported that Instagram banned the hashtag "curvy" because it was being used in reference to porn.  The backlash was huge and is still ongoing!  People are outraged because fat, skinny, and thin were not banned.  And I did a little test of my own and was able to put the hashtag "porn" on an image and when you type porn into the search box all sorts of junk pops up!  If you're going to ban a word that is regularly used to promote body acceptance siting that it has been associated with porn, shouldn't you have first banned the word "porn?"  Maybe it's just me, but I think that would be my first step.

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