So apparently I never actually posted that image on tumblr when I was actively doing DearMe… in my defense it was actually after the 6 month mark and our peak season at work so I was super swamped… here it is in all it’s glory- with the blogging that went with it at the time even.:
Day 198/365. July 4th, 2011.
Last night I was doing some reading. There was an article written about the presence of body-positive blogs on the internet. Essentially the supposition is that these blogs can be as damaging as “pro-ana” (pro-anorexia for those not in the know), because they presumably promote an unhealthy lifestyle. Which, quite frankly (as anyone who has actually READ these blogs knows) is bullshit.
I spent my day today in the pool. My fat body in a swimsuit, comfortable and happy and at ease with myself. That’s a way of life that’s starting to be my status quo: being at ease with myself. And the article made me angry— because some of these body-positive blogs should have some of the credit for my current body-positivity. In the wee hours of the morning, I wrote a response to the article, my take on the matter. Because my point is, and the point of these blogs is that EVERY body is beautiful. No matter what size, or shape, or condition. BEAUTY does not equal health.
The blog they specifically mentioned in the article is called “Stop Hating Your Body,” and my response is below.
“You want to know what’s wrong with an article that (albeit politely) breaks down one source of positive self-esteem, of body-positivity, of body-acceptance, of self-love in a sea of body-hate and self-hate and general hate? What’s wrong is that the article misses the point. It assumes that to be body-positive, you must be touting Good. Health. As defined by… well, whoever the hell gets to define it I suppose.
And that’s where the problem begins. The article in question essentially takes the stand that Body-Positive blogs can be harmful because what they really seem to promote is unhealthy lifestyles, unhealthy eating habits. What it says is essentially that a body-positive blog like Stop Hating Your Body can be just as harmful as a Pro-Ana website… but to the opposite side of the spectrum. I should take a moment to say that the article’s author herself is not condemning body-positive blogs, her sources are concerns from the medical community that body-positive blogs may in fact be causing the polar problem of pro-ana blogs.
One of the points the article makes (particularly as quoted by another blogger) is that perhaps only “healthy” measurements should be published in these blogs. Here’s where the real issue begins to get a little bit dicey. The measurement in question specifically is the BMI which, if you haven’t been keeping track— was recently admitted by parts of the medical community to actually be… bullshit. Sorry. BMI does not take into account fat versus muscle. It doesn’t distinguish between men and women. And as it turns out, there’s a little paradox involved in the BMI that shows medically that being at the “overweight” level of the BMI index can actually be beneficial to your health. But I’m not here to talk about health to be honest— that’s not really where this is going.
And because I know I’m going to get a lot of hate from this rant.. .Yes. I am fat. I’m obese and I don’t need a BMI, Doctor, or random anonymous stranger to tell me that. Why? Because I’m not an idiot. I also know that I am not in the most fantastic physical health. Got it. I also know that my health level isn’t really any of your business. You don’t pay my medical bills, so unless you’re a friend or relation who actually LOVES me and wants my life to be long and healthy— you really have no right to make commentary on my level of health. Why do I say all of that? Because I want you to know that I am not using this rant to excuse, negate, or justify my being overweight. Because this rant is not ABOUT health. This rant is not about HEALTH-focused Blogs. This rant is not about HEALTHY habits, choices, food plans, or anything else. This rant is about misunderstanding Body-positivity and the idea of Beauty that we seem so willing to toss about as a term of exclusivity.
The point of blogs like Stop Hating Your Body, Curve Appeal, Big and Better and other truly body-positive blogs is not to tout healthy living. It’s not about health. It doesn’t need to be about health. Why? Because there are like 500,001 places on the internet that deal with health and weight loss and body-positivity is not limited within the strictures of healthy bodies. The point of these blogs is not about health— it’s about beauty. It’s about every woman (and man’s) fundamental right to feel beautiful and worthwhile and accepted and valued— even if the only one who does— is you, yourself.
I mentioned in my comment that we are bombarded by thousands, if not millions of sources, images, magazines, ads, tv shows, websites, forums, blogs, comments that tell us that we have to look a certain way in order to be considered beautiful. And that way apparently does not include anyone who doesn’t look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model. A commenter was kind enough to point out that these days some of these stores do now offer sizes up to 22, which is great-truly, except have you seen any size 22’s in their ads showing them off?
Exactly. Even big-girl shops like Lane Bryant, Avenue, Fashion Bug have (in the recent past at least) relied heavily (no pun intended) on “average” sized models. But I will tell you from experience, that a plus size dress does not look the same on a plus size model as it does on me. Because even plus size models aren’t truly— PLUS. In their defense, many of these big-girl retailers HAVE started utilizing larger models but even then they are so airbrushed, so edited, so photoshopped— that even if they have a size 28 on a model… the same item of clothing on me is going to look disappointing.
And that’s why these blogs exist, that’s why there is SHYB, and Curve Appeal and any other blog that supports body-positivity. Do you understand what body-positivity really means? Because it’s not about health, or weight, or size. It’s about recognizing that no matter what any of those measurements or statuses are— the person standing in front of you is valuable, and beautiful and worthwhile, just as you are.
Body-positivity is recognizing that you don’t know how a person got to the place they are. It’s recognizing that you have no idea if I have a healthy diet or an unhealthy one. It’s recognizing that you don’t know my size isn’t due to a medical condition beyond my control. It’s recognizing that you can’t look at a skinny girl and assume she’s anorexic. It’s recognizing that there is more about BEAUTY than judgement. It’s recognizing that there is more about BEAUTY than what size jeans I pull over my hips in the morning. It’s recognizing that the person standing in front of you is a human being, and that in a world that is determined to tell her she is not worthy— it is our job as fellow human beings— to make her believe that she IS.
It isn’t about healthy or unhealthy. It’s about being told that you are worth the air that you breathe, no matter the shape or size or condition of the body that breathes it.
I’m almost 30 years old. I weigh more than 300 pounds and I wear a size 26/28. And I have spent a concerted portion of my life thinking I was ugly. Worthless. Where were my role models? Where were the big beautiful women in love with themselves, loved by others for me to see and relate to?
I wasn’t always a big girl. Once upon a time I too was healthy, average. But even then— I still felt unworthy, unpretty, unwanted. Why? Because even healthy and average isn’t something you see plastered on billboards.
And that’s why SHYB and sites like it exist. Because no girl (or boy) deserves to grow up thinking that they’re not worth it because they don’t fit some impossible ideal. Because in order to be healthy, you have to learn to love yourself just the way you are. When I started therapy last year, it’s one of the first things my therapist told me— that in order to mold my life and my body into the shape that I ultimately wanted— I had to learn to love it exactly the way it is. Almost a year later— I’m there. Partly because of blogs like SHYB and Curve Appeal. Because there is finally a place in the universe that says, “You are BEAUTIFUL, no matter what.”
I don’t need a blog to tell me I’m not healthy— or how to BE healthy. I need one to tell me that even though I’m not healthy I still have value in the world. Or rather, I used to need that. Now that validation comes from within. But it’s nice to have a reminder now and then.
The problem with that article is that what it doesn’t take into account, what its concerned medical sources don’t take into account that we live in a society that is rampant with judgement and hatred. It doesn’t take into account that it is somehow acceptable for random strangers to fly in as “anonymous” and try to tear down girls and call them ugly, or gay (as if that’s a bad thing), or fat, or stupid. It doesn’t take into account that these sites are (for most followers) refuges of self-esteem in a world where every single image and opinion that surrounds you is determined to make you feel unworthy of even being alive.
What these blogs are trying to do is two-fold: the first is to teach the world that there is value in everybody; and the second is to teach that same world that it is time once and for all that we stop judging ourselves and each other. What these blogs are trying to do is revolutionize the world so that we can go back to valuing each other as fellow human beings instead of as marketing demographics.
I am beautiful. You are beautiful. And i don’t have to see you to say that. i don’t have to know your bra size, your weight, what stores you can shop in for clothes. I know that you are beautiful. And if you can’t look in the mirror and say that about yourself— you need to recognize that it’s not about what you see. You deserve to feel beautiful— no matter what you see in the mirror.