I want to talk to you about how you talk to me about how I talk about my body, and how I talk about how I feel about my body, and what’s wrong with everything you have to say about what I have to say.
In short, fuck you.
I don’t love my body. My body is awful. I will never love my body. I never have. And I’m 35 and maybe you think that’s too old to have real hang ups about my body. But I do. And I always will. And maybe you think that because I’ve lost a bunch of weight I should feel great about my body. But I don’t. And I won’t.
And maybe you think that because it’s my body I should love it and that I should think I’m beautiful. That I should somehow ignore all the standards the world imposes on me every single day, standards that make up “beautiful.” That I should make my own standards, and tell myself that I can just create my own reality. That I should pretend that I can never be judged by the standards of others. Maybe if I just love myself enough, other people will be able to climb into my head and begin adopting my standard of beauty and the world will follow and my formula will be the new standard and I will become The Most Beautiful.
Or maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe the fact that I don’t love my body isn’t really an issue. Maybe the problem is that everyone thinks I should love my body. That loving my body is some kind of standard of womanly goodness in and of itself.
But we’re told we will love our bodies once they’re good enough to be loved. Once we free them of imperfections… all of them. Once I erase my freckles and age lines and sagging skin and thigh flab and become faster and stronger and a better mom and a better wife and a better career woman and keep it all together and prove that I’m doing it all by looking amazing, then I will truly love my body.
Or maybe loving our bodies means casting aside the imperfections that make us who we are, while embracing only the things we want people to see about us, and the things other people would like to see. Loving my body means not exposing you to my armpit stubble but showcasing my bad-ass legs. That’s not really love… that’s what everyone always does, as much as they can, all the time.
Or maybe loving our bodies means loving all the things that bother us about it. Which is kind of fucked up because I don’t love everything about all the other people I love, and I certainly don’t embrace the really annoying things.
Or maybe me loving my body is about you. And how you feel about how I feel about my body. If I tell you that “I love my body. I love my freckles. I even love my sagging ass because it’s on my body.” You’ll pat me on the back and tell me that I’m getting it. And I’m not making anyone uncomfortable by complaining about how much I dislike being held up to fucked up beauty standards and how it fucks with my head.
But, let’s be honest, if I love my body, I’m not declaring it with apologetic disclaimers. Loving your body doesn’t include demanding other people understand that your appendectomy scar is gorgeous.
The problem isn’t about women not loving our bodies. It’s not about how I feel about myself. It’s not about how my body looks.
The problem is someone else telling me how to feel. The problem is being told that there is a standard of beauty, and I should ignore it. I should ignore it despite the fact that everyone is still holding me to it. I should ignore it and create my own. As long as it makes me feel pseudo-good, and makes other people feel okay with how I pretend to feel about me. But while we’re pretending the real-world standards don’t exist, the real world continues judging us—It’s okay to be more critical of a woman who’s accepted herself. She’s strong and can take it… In fact, wow, what a conceited bitch she must be to think she’s so great when she’s clearly not. Maybe someone needs to take her down. She really has no business acting like she’s as good as other people.
But here’s the thing… It’s okay to not love my body. It’s okay to not even like my body. They’re my feelings and it’s my body and I will use those feelings to feel however I want to about my body. I don’t need you to tell me how to feel.
We don’t have to find ourselves beautiful. Beauty is not the one thing that makes us and our bodies worth loving. We don’t have to distort an already fucked-up definition of beauty, and pretend we fit into it, just to feel like we are people worthy of being loved.
Stop telling women that we should find ourselves beautiful and that we should love ourselves when you are standing right there, judging us on how our knees look in short skirts and how prominent our boobs are in a sweater and how much makeup we are or are not wearing.
Instead of us working harder on “love your body” and “find your inner beauty”, the rest of the world should be working harder on “stop telling women their bodies are a shameful place to live but that if they’re strong enough, they will learn to embrace that shame.”
This is my body. It’s not “beautiful”. I don’t “love it”. I don’t have to. I don’t have to have any strong feelings about my body. And whatever feelings I do have are not somehow invalid if they’re not glowing reviews.
What’s weird is that you think I should care about how I look as much as you do.
I should probably note that most of the things I hate about my body are the result of me losing 100+ lbs in 8 months. The parts of my body I hated when I was fat are still the same parts of my body I hate… but now I just hate them for different reasons. Even if today those flaws represent an incredible accomplishment and are the marks of an amazing journey, I don’t have to love them.
My face though?
I don’t hate that. But I’ve spent years getting comfortable enough with it to show it to you without make up.