It’s been a while since I have decided to write a rant on the social state as I see it, but I have finally been inspired, so get ready for it!
I feel like my social feeds have been clogging up lately with “I’m still sexy!” posts, where women who have bodies that are less Victoria’s Secret and more everywoman are butt naked or have their dimpled ass cheeks hanging out of their barely-there swimsuit bottoms. While I’m not offended by nakedness, as I think human bodies are quite fascinating in their endless variations, nor am I one to point out another’s dimpled buttocks as flawed when I have my own to worry about, I can’t help but get annoyed at the fact that it still comes down to what is “sexy.” This is completely negating the argument they are trying to present.
Let me quickly take a trip down memory lane about my own body confidence journey. I have definitely had more time on the higher end of the “normal” weight range than the lower. I remember going clothing shopping in 5th grade, and having a come apart in the dressing room when my doughy little body was a Gap Kids size 14. I have a cousin who is only a couple of months younger than me who was always itty bitty, who would ask me what it was like to be fat, since she was considered underweight. (I love her anyways… Little girls are just mean, and I am sure I did something to her around that time that she remembers as mean, too. After all, I did have boobs first.) As I got older, I would waffle, and my high school wardrobe ranged from sizes 4-14 throughout my years there. One boy called me Kirby, as in Kirby the Marshmallow from the Gameboy game, when I was a freshman, and by the time I was a senior, I could rock the Abercrombie and Fitch trends with the best of them, no problem. College brought the unfortunately typical disordered eating and exercising, which again yo-yo’d me as such unhealthy approaches typically do.
I think what helped me get over these issues and, consequently lead to a more stable weight, could be summed up in three things: love, health issues, and age. The person with whom I spent the majority of my 20’s with was flawed in many ways, but when it came to my body image, he was incredible. He was smart enough to figure out that I had extremely disordered habits and literally babysat me out of them. If I lost weight, instead of telling me I looked hot or better, he would ask me specifics about what I had or hadn’t been eating or how many hours I had spent at the gym. Only if my response was a healthy one would I get a compliment to reflect positive efforts. He always made me feel attractive. When we were engaged, I was at a friend’s house where all the girls (who were also quite thin already) were talking about a trendy weight loss drug, which has since been recalled for many reasons, that most were taking as prescribed by their doctors. I almost felt stupid when I told them that my fiance actually loved my body as it was, and I wasn’t going to try some weird fad drug to get into a smaller wedding dress. His love helped me gain a love for my body, flaws and all, and I am grateful that he taught me that. My health issues also helped me feel OK with myself. I have an extremely sensitive digestive system. I can be a size 4 one day, and the next day be so bloated that I only want to wear flowy dresses to hide my protruding belly that makes me look about six months pregnant. “Skinny” is literally relative to the mood of my intestines, so I have come to accept that I only have so much control. Yes, I get frustrated when I can’t fit into the outfit I wanted one day because I ate something troublesome the day before, but I can’t really get obsessed about it. Finally, age and maturity have helped me realize there are many more important things in life than how one fits into a pair of skinny jeans. There are just so many other things to spend your time fretting about.
So while I totally encourage one finding their journey to a healthy sense of self esteem about their body, why is the “still sexy” photo trend so annoying to me? You would think it went hand-in-hand with my view on this issue. However, here’s the real problem; “sexy” should not be the goal. Of all the many things women can achieve and all the wonderful things they are, the obsession with sexy has to stop. Sex is a normal part of life, but isn’t the all-day-every-day focus of most women, so try reserving sexy for when it is the focus. In other words, be sexy for the person you want to be having sex with. Assuming that you don’t want to be having sex with the whole wide internet, stop posting your naked bodies all over the place, proclaiming you are sexy! You are mothers. You are business women. You are staples in your communities. You have an incredible brain inside that body that is just as mighty, regardless of whether you have a muffin-top or six pack on your midsection. If you really want to change what is viewed as attractive in our society, change the conversation AWAY from bodies. Stop posting naked or body-centric photos of yourself. I don’t care if you have Madonna arms or bat wings, thigh gaps or saddlebags. When you post pictures to make those the focus, quite frankly, you are only short changing yourself. You are saying that you are giving in to the idea that women are their bodies. Guess what. You are not your body. You are SO much more! Post photos of the fabulous outfit you threw together using your unique taste, regardless of the size stated on the tags. Post photos of the delicious meal you cooked, and intend to eat. Post photos of your bonus check after you kicked butt at your job, or better yet, the view from the pool or beach vacation that you can afford thanks to your success. Post photos of the view from the mountain that you hiked, with your smiling, sweaty face and crazy hair in the forefront. Lets start seeing what the world looks like through your feminine perspective, instead of looking at your feminine parts. There will still be industries obsessed with tight bodies, both photoshopped and real. These industries will still say that “sexy” is the best thing that a woman can offer. You can’t change that. However, the more you learn how to portray your worth through actions and words, and the more you teach younger generations to do the same, the less power these industries will have to dictate what is important, what is beautiful, and what a woman’s worth truly is. So just stop. Please. Little girls around the world depend on it.