Saturday, March 16, 2013

There is a Brain in the Body That You Need to Accept.

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite.  I do think that all women should love their bodies.

But there are times when I really don't love my body.

Oddly, I can look at other women and see beauty in all of them, but when I look at myself in the mirror, the body acceptance that I try to espouse can often go flying right out the window.  I nitpick and self-criticize.  I find flaws.  

Most women are empathetic, until they find out that I often wear a size 2.  Then I'm no longer "allowed" to dislike my body and am just "whining." 

My family members sometimes do this.  Even Mr. Nerd occasionally does this.  It is an accepted practice in western culture- I can't speak for all- to say, "Oh, stop it! You're tiny!" as if being a certain size ought to make one happy for life.  Yes, we need to encourage women not to continuously find fault with themselves, but in trying to create a level playing ground for bodies of all shapes and sizes, is it fair to dismiss the body hangups of the size 00 and not those of a size 44?  I've always felt like my stomach is too large and my butt too flat; I wanted a breast reduction for years (before discovering properly fitting bras); I sometimes think my natural hair color doesn't only look mousy but is quite literally the color of a mouse.  

Mice are sort of cute, though.

I have a theory.*  My theory is that "body acceptance" should mean accepting all bodies and the feelings that come with those bodies.  We should accept the model's feeling that her legs are too skinny as just as valid as the hairdresser's feeling that her thighs are too big.  Then, and only then, can we present the idea that no, your legs are not too skinny, and your thighs are not too big, and you look amazing.

Who is going to listen to us say "All women are beautiful," if we don't first acknowledge that the feelings of inadequacy instilled by a looks-obsessed culture are real and detrimental emotions for all women?

So the next time you think about saying that a woman with larger hips is a "real" woman, remember that there are women with slender hips who might hear that and start disliking their bodies for not being "real."  When you feel like saying something like "Where are the curves?" when seeing a slender woman, remember that that woman might have hangups about her body that this might bring to the surface (and that curvy is a SHAPE not a SIZE!).  If you're about to say, "Now this is what a woman should look like," when seeing a certain woman, think of all the girls who might be trying to look like that woman but failing because they haven't got the same bone structure or musculature.  Remember that all women, regardless of shape or size, have feelings.**

We are all real women, we are all beautiful, and we need to act like it.

*Perhaps not scientific, as I don't know if it can be tested.
**OK, so not sociopaths, but you know what I mean.


  1. You know, I think I am going to say something politically incorrect here, but not every body out there is perfection. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – true. Yet, we are programmed to regard certain shapes and features as beautiful more frequently than others. Some of it is cultural, but a lot of it is what we, humans, are programmed to find attractive. I think it is more important to believe that body shape and beauty are not something to obsess over. Yes, I am not perfect physically, but I have a lot more to offer than a mere body. Body is not permanent, it changes as we grow older and experience such events as pregnancy/injury, etc. And then what – reprogram yourself to believe that your new wrinkles and lumps are beautiful? Instead of making myself believe that I am perfect just as I am, I feel it much healthier to step away from a body centric view of myself, and see myself as a personality first and foremost. Put mind and spirit over matter. And when I do, those wrinkles, stretch marks, a few extra pounds will not upset my balance when the time comes. I will not rush to get Botox injections, fillers and liposuction.

    I am not going to lower MY OWN standard of physical beauty just because I am below that standard. I will accept that some things are given to us by nature, and others are a product of our own work, and there is nothing we can do about that. I can have the same washboard stomach as XYZ if I put in the effort, but I cannot have her proportions or bone structure. And that’s ok, because my body is not all that I stand for. More so, I should not have to compare myself to anybody to begin with. I have a problem with the body centered culture that we are exposed to today. I rebel against it, I do not “flaunt it if I got it” just for the sake of it, and I most certainly not going to flaunt it if I ain’t got it.

    With that said, I am not there yet. But I am much more at peace with my imperfections than I used to be. I still know I do not have a perfectly proportioned body, my assessment of my body has not changed. I just don’t care as much. Yes, my ankles are too thin and my waist is short. So what?

    - NK

    1. You make some excellent points; certainly our bodies shouldn't define us, and we have more to offer than appearance. And comparison is indeed futile; it's not like we come off an assembly line. For some people who see parts of themselves as imperfect, it might be *more* empowering not to love and flaunt the perceived flaws but to either change them if they can or "outshine" them in other ways.

      I personally espouse an "all bodies are beautiful" philosophy and think things like wrinkles and marks are actually quite attractive, but I can understand the other mentality as well. As long as people don't try to force others into a "mould" and body shame, I have no issues with individual preferences if expressed politely. I tend to think that imperfections are more culturally- and temporally-defined than genetic; for example, many cultures prize softer stomachs over washboard abs, and the "ideal" shape of a woman's body has changed even throughout the past century. I know not all people agree with me on this, and that's OK, but I work on the premise that all bodies are created equal. That being said, you don't need to change your definition of what is attractive to you. We all have our own personal preferences!