Plus-sized models in Sports Illustrated. Celebrity faces photoshopped on Reubenesque models. A blogger’s crusade against revealing yoga pants. Kelly Clarkson’s post pregnancy body. Kim Kardashian’s whittled corseted middle. An Australian model’s 4-week postpartum abs. A blogger mom’s bikini body.
I was tempted to ignore all of it. Some of those examples are old news by fast-moving internet standards. They all are old news really, the same news, the most archaic news: women’s bodies.
I’m exhausted. I’m tired of being bombarded by women’s bodies of any size of any shape when the packaging is the topic of conversation. I’m tired of women needing to use their bodies as their battle cry for acceptance where a stretch mark or roll or piece of flesh becomes a beacon for others. I’m tired of our exteriors being the inspiration or motivation.
So little has changed. We’re still talking about, looking at, examining bodies.
We’re duped into celebrating “plus-sized” women (over a size 4 in the modeling industry) in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition as though it’s an accomplishment for women, a step in the right direction. What direction? Towards the objectification of women of all sizes? Why does the swimsuit edition still exist? No women featured in the swimsuit edition–now that would be something. That would be groundbreaking. But no, the internet is littered with people asserting the model isn’t really plus-sized (true), as though a curvy, sized-18 woman would be amazing in a magazine made for people to dissect and covet and objectify.
Recently, Rachel Hollis shared a photo of her bikini body with what she calls flab and stretch marks from carrying three babies. Her caption to the photo was a modern-day “Phenomenal Woman” rendition, an empowered call to embrace our bodies in every form and wear a bikini. I love the message, but why are we so far away from that reality? Why does there have to be litany of reasons her body looks the way it does?
Whose approval are we seeking? Our own? The fashion industry’s? The media’s?
Why do we feel compelled to put our bodies on display with fierce captions? The sad answer is that our bodies are still so very much on our minds–our bodies compared to other bodies–hers and hers and hers. It would be so refreshing if our bodies didn’t have to send a message at all if they were just vessels supporting our myriad missions, and equally as refreshing if we saw ourselves represented on and in texts of all kinds in women doing, moving, thinking, acting, being.
I don’t know what it would take to change the landscape for my girls. I freely admit that no matter how many women bear their bodies with inspirational captions, the body image stuff I carry is written in permanent marker on my psyche. But I don’t want my girls or my boy to inherit that because it’s not in our genes; it’s self-imposed.
I wish magazines, advertisements, the internet would ignite with images of women in various states of undress doing what women do–anything and everything. And I wish the curve of their backs or the thickness of their thighs or the draping of their skin were not mentioned at all. I wish companies like Dove could use a variety of women without calling attention to the variety or “realness” thus inadvertently making their audience examine the bodies. I want all kinds of women to be the rule for my kids not the exception.
Just women. No
qualifiers. No Caveats. No asterisks.