When I run, I hear people clapping for me, then I realise it’s just my thighs slapping each other because I’m chubby. Heck, when running, I attract a lot of people—like paramedics scurrying from the ambulance. As these two sentences show, I’m not here to spew body positivity cliches like “all bodies are beautiful!” because what is society’s obsession with bodies constantly having to be “beautiful”? Especially women’s (but men’s bodies are also oppressed in different ways). Why can’t bodies just be… bodies? Your body doesn’t have to look awesome to be awesome; it’s awesome because it’s where you live.
The body-positivity movement asks us to focus on our bodies in order to love ourselves, but how do you expect us to stop fixating on our “flaws” if all we do is fixate on them? How can we always feel positive about our bodies, yet feelings change?
Body positivity is about making the world safer for marginalized bodies, not just about feeling beautiful. Body acceptance allows for the fact that bodies are diverse, and that there’s no wrong way to have one. Body neutrality encourages you to accept the body you’re in, focus on its achievements, rather than its appearance, because “often, we fall into the black-or-white trap of either loving or hating our bodies.”
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I have a problem with having to feel positive about having a body. My body exists to keep my organs in place; why should it be the battleground for society’s opinions? Opinions are for my blog posts; not to be thrown at my body like I’m a product in a store. I will not say “all bodies are beautiful”; instead I’ll say all bodies are good bodies, because the obsession with physical attractiveness must stop.
When living in a society that says one body is bad and another is good, those with “bad” bodies are expected to be ashamed and do everything they can to have “good” bodies and those with “good” bodies worry their bodies will go “bad”. So we torture our bodies: over-exercise, disordered eating, invasive surgery, uncomfortable accessories like bras and waist trainers, to meet the beauty standard; yet really, you can’t please everyone—you’re not a tub of ice cream.
Why is it easy to understand dogs are the same species but come in numerous breeds yet we never say a specific breed is what all dogs must look like? Because it’s absurd to expect a dog born as a dalmatian, to look like a rottweiler. Why do you expect 7 billion people on earth to all look the same? Why expect all breasts to look like nipple-less cups in push-up bras yet they come in different shapes and sizes: saggy, melons, pointy, small, big, different areolas, uneven sizes? Why expect all men to be tall, have big penises and chiseled bodies? Why do you expect women to have small waists and huge asses?
Grown men will see a woman's saggy boobs & be calling it "Slippers", "Olympus has fallen" etc. in 2021. Please man, grow tf up.
— … (@Sxmto_) February 17, 2021
Women’s bodies go in and out of fashion like trends: we must have thigh gaps, then a few years later we must be “thick.” We must be skinny, have huge boobs but they mustn’t sag; have big butts and “meat on our bones” but only in an hourglass shape.
Be yourself, but not like that!
“Real women have curves”. Wow, there are fake women? Run for your life, for the slim woman beside you might be an alien plotting world-domination in womanly flesh.
Real women are however the hell they are.God knew if I had a “perfect” body, I’d be too powerful, and that’s why I have a body shaped like a potato. But potatoes make fries, crisps, mashed potatoes and VODKA. A multi-talented vegetable like I am. I look like a potato and that’s okay.
Yes, my boobs sag, because I am so great that they bow down to me. They’re so friendly that gravity became their best friend. Really though, I’m a 36DD; I’m literally carrying melons on my chest, of course they droop to gravity’s whims. Sometimes I wish I could unclip my boobs, hang them up then wear them again when I’m leaving the house because they’re heavy. But these are the boobs I have; when people try shaming them, I am not obligated to hold on to it. The shame you’re putting on me isn’t mine to carry. By rejecting people’s shaming, we transform struggle to peace and pride, inviting others to accept their bodies too.
But it’s a process. I didn’t jump straight from the womb accepting my body, I had to unlearn the shame I internalised, which took as long as a Nigerian movie with part 2, 3, 4-10. Though I usually don’t wear bras because I unlearned my hatred for my breasts, sometimes I’m insecure about their appearance in certain outfits. Body positivity’s pressure to constantly love yourself makes you feel like a failure for not doing so, yet it’s society (or body dysmorphia) which made you so, defeating the point of making marginalized bodies feel safe.
Sometimes accepting your body is simply acknowledging what it is. No forced positivity or negativity. Just acceptance. Positivity posts focus on loving yourself—it’s awesome if you do—but for many, loving yourself feels unreachable, so you don’t have to love yourself—you can just live with, tolerate yourself and accept that your body exists, by trying to counter self-hate and negative thoughts. Not everyone can love themselves right now, or ever, and that’s okay, because it’s a huge step and trying to tolerate yourself can be enough.
I have nonexistent hips and that’s okay. In the factory where my bum was made, they ran out of ingredients, and that’s why my bum is on a budget. And that’s okay. My skin is so oily if you harvested the oil, you could deep fry a chicken and start an oil company rivalling Total. I don’t say this because I’m insecure, I say it because they are facts, but society makes these natural facts into flaws. My burn scars are not “beautiful,” but they shouldn’t have to be deemed such to be accepted—I never asked to be burned. Why can’t they just exist as something normal like knee scrapes?
Being expected to be flawless beings without scars is nonsensical because these “flaws” show you are living. Stretch marks are not tiger stripes, they are stretch marks, because your body is changing. You have burn scars because you lived a traumatic experience. Your crow’s feet show a lifetime of smiles. Our bodies are like canvases and our scars, our burns, acne, stretch marks, are simply brushstrokes reminding us we are living, not just existing. Why must our bodies be scarless, poreless, cellulite-free as though or bodies are kept in a museum glass case? Life is a b*tch. Hormones are agents of darkness. There is nothing radical about these facts.
I’m not here to glamourize your body because it shouldn’t have to be glamourized in the first place for it to be accepted. You are not a trophy or a doll. You are a person. Having to advocate for these things to be accepted is like advocating for ears or eyes or legs to be accepted. I shouldn’t have to soliloquize witty phrases about all bodies being good bodies. Why should we even argue about something natural?
Maybe body acceptance isn’t about changing how we view and talk about bodies, perhaps what’s truly radical is just talking about and scrutinizing bodies less. Your body is here to keep you alive, so you live life; not exist solely to pay bills and lose/gain weight. Body positivity discourse makes us focus on our bodies, yet we can focus on living our lives, making a change in the world or being positive about things having nothing to do with our bodies.
It’s just a body.
What about the great stuff it does? Your feet take you to the kitchen for midnight snacks. Your big nose smells your lover’s irresistible perfume. Your thunder thighs carry cute puppies. Words out of your thin lips can change the world. Your body keeps you alive. Its beauty doesn’t matter; it is a vessel for your precious soul.
Who cares if someone’s ass is small; how does it negatively impact your life? Before commenting on someone’s body, acne, weight etc., ask yourself, “could I better use my time by jumping off a cliff?” You don’t have to attracted to my body to respect it.
Bodies and “imperfections” don’t have to be dressed up in the language of prettiness for them to be accepted. They must be accepted because they are bodies. I once said, “I’m so chubby” then someone responded, “you’re beautiful!” Duh, Siphiwe, but did I say I’m ugly? I say chubby because it is a fact, and there’s nothing wrong with the fact.
How to get a bikini body:
Step 1. Wear a bikini on your body.
Step 2. That’s it. You have a bikini body.
For a beach body, just go stand at the beach. If I’m a chubby woman wearing a crop top, told to “Dress for your body type” —my body is dressed up, meaning I am dressed for my body type. If Winnie the Pooh can wear a crop top, so can I.
But we shouldn’t be expending energy on defending our bodies, we should be living. Instead of soliloquizing about bikini bodies, let’s go clean the beach. Instead of journaling about how you feel about your body, go write the novel you’ve been meaning to write. Yes, I just subtweeted myself.