I am not an unattractive woman. I’m tall, blonde, blue-eyed. I’m also straight, white, cis-gendered— positions that grant me unfair and unearned social privileges. I have been dealt some advantageous genetic cards. Yet, I, like so many other women, have trouble sustaining the belief that I am okay.
I analyze if my thighs are too big, my arms too floppy, my eyebrows too light. I have ached for longer hair, fuller lips, bigger breasts. These thoughts, like pests, are sneaky, continuous and almost impossible to eradicate. And they are everywhere. Thoughts like these can pop up at any given moment, fueled by mediated imagery that encompasses my day-to-day life. These ideas, this ceaseless coercion, eats up my time, steals from my mental health, and impacts the way I move through the world. I worry about having daughters. I wonder how I could possibly protect a young girl, a teenager, or a friend from the manufactured notion that they are never enough.
The average woman has at least 13 negative thoughts about her body any given day. Most women have at least one “I hate my body” thought every 24 hours. When we are primarily valued for our looks and rewarded for them, it is so hard to not constantly hold oneself up to the mirror of conventional beauty and think, how do I compare? Do I get the cultural stamp of approval? Is it in my reach?
When I first saw the body positive movement bloom, I was amazed. I remember coming across Instagrams of women who had different bodies than ones I had seen in magazines. They were proud and taking up space and they were beautiful. On some level, I believed I was not allowed to be proud of my body or myself unless or until — that elusive until — I could present a “perfect” form. I have lived a lot of my life thinking I needed to lose 20 pounds— not thinking that I could lose that weight, but that I should, that I would be more valuable, more important, if I did. Seeing women of varying shapes, skin colors, and abilities broadcasting their bodies began to resolve the falsity that I needed to stuff myself into the constraints of conventional beauty. Here, right in front of me, were women who didn’t fit into traditional norms. They and the communities that supported them were making a new world. And I want to be a part of it.
I want to help diminish the cultural pressure to be a certain type of woman, to have a certain type of body. I want to change which voices are loudest. I want to disseminate more images and ideas of women who are creating new concepts of beauty and body positivity.
I do not want to speak for anyone. The Body Pos Projects is about providing platforms, not presumptions. We want to create a space to share conversations with women who have put themselves out into the world, through social media or fame, and are boldly redefining body positivity. Our interviews house reflections ranging from how to deal with internet trolls to “rewiring your brain” to the incredible impact of finding body positive community online. We prioritize conversations about race, ethnicity, ability, sexuality and gender. We are having real talk about real bodies.
I want to reclaim the hours I have spent berating my body, questioning my worth. I want to change the culture so the next generation doesn’t have to slog through these muddy waters. I want women to be able to move through the world believing they are okay exactly as they are. Think of what that would be like. Think of the impact that could have. Imagine if we decided that we are beautiful, that we are the ones who determine our worth, that we decide we are okay.
Help me change the cultural of body pos image.