It’s been a year since the positive body image Exposed movement started. Mishe decided we should all celebrate with some reflection on the occasion.
Last October I posted this exposed photo on my blog:
I also wrote a little bit about the reasons why I love my body.
“My body is not perfect. In fact, it is probably farther from “perfect” than anyone who has done this yet, but I’m comfortable in it. And I love it… because it’s mine. No one else’s. So if I think it is beautiful, then it is.”
The response to the post continues to interest me.
So many people left amazing and supportive comments. They called me brave and said that what I did was awesome and inspiring. Similar comments were left on all the participants posts.
I wondered why we were considered “brave.” Although I understood initially, after time passed I was sort of confused by that reaction. The initial fear in the pit of my stomach before posting is now a distant memory. Anyone who can google me can find this image, and the nervousness over posting it passed after the first positive comment. But I still wondered why posting a picture of myself in my undies was considered a “brave” thing to do.
The conclusion I’ve come to: I was brave for not being ashamed of my body.
We were/are all brave for not being ashamed. We are brave for doing this because technically in our society we are supposed to be ashamed.
That might seem like a harsh conclusion, but I think it’s very true, especially for women. The message seems pretty clear after hearing it my whole life: if your body isn’t perfect you should be ashamed of it.
Women who are a “sexy” size 2 are paid to pose in little clothing in magazines. Women with “thin” bodies are expected to wear bikinis to the beach and bras and shorts to the gym. Men worship their bodies and women wish to look like them. They are somewhat expected to flaunt what they’ve got. But if you have fat rolls? If you have cellulite? If your body isn’t perfect? If you are a size 16+? Dear God, please cover yourself up! Don’t wear things that show off body parts! If you are bigger it’s just expected that you will cover up your body at all times. If you don’t you encounter hateful and mean comments about how you look, because obviously no normal person wants to look at that.
It’s a very, very clear message we receive.
Women with the “perfect” bodies are revered and celebrated. If you aren’t perfect then you better just go ahead and be ashamed of that fact. It feels like the message screams at us, “You should be disgusted with it because everyone else is certainly disgusted by your body! You should be ashamed of being imperfect, so cover up and deal with the shame!”
If you feel like you have “fat” arms – cover them up in shame! If you are unhappy with your thighs – cover them up and even throw on some spanx to hold in all that shamefulness! That’s just how it is, right? That’s how most women live and obviously it’s how we are all supposed to continue. That’s at least how it feels to me. That’s what it feels like I’ve been told my whole life. That’s what probably a lot of us have been told, which is why when one or more of us decides to rebel we are considered brave.
A while ago, over a year ago, I decided I didn’t want to continue perpetuating this line of thinking. I wanted to wear tank tops all the time even though my arms are jiggly wiggly and what many people consider disgusting (or so I’ve heard). I wanted to wear a bikini if I thought it was cute and it fit well enough to cover my bits. And so I have. The majority of my tops don’t have sleeves. I own two bikinis. I wear what I want. I don’t cover up. I struggle through the fat days where I feel ugly (oh, they so happen), but I try to bounce back quickly and also try to be conscious of what I say about my body online and with other women.
We shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies. So very few people look “perfect” in this world. We all have insecurities. We all have parts of our bodies that we wish were different. But there shouldn’t be shame. No one should feel ashamed of themselves because of the way they look. We are all beautiful and different. Seriously. That message gets lost, but it’s true.
Don’t be ashamed of your body – it’s beautiful. That’s not a message we hear a lot in life. But if you think it’s beautiful, then it is. Beauty starts on the inside. It’s starts with your thoughts and your perspective, so replace the shameful feelings with pride in your body for what it can do. You body is YOURS and it’s deserving of respect and love for all the amazing things that it does.
And as for me, a year later…
I still love my body. I’m supposed to be ashamed of it, but I’m not. It’s still not “perfect” but it’s pretty amazing.
If I think it’s beautiful, then it is.