I have been slim for as long as I can remember. Not intentionally. I think it is something genetic. But, knowing the struggles of particularly girls wanting to lose weight to fit into this "ideal" society supposedly tells us sometimes makes me feel guilty. Guilty because I know so many other girls would wish to be in my shoes and honestly, I hate that having a skinny body is used as the ideal body to aspire to regardless of whether it is actually healthy for you. I dislike that losing weight is always considered an achievement and that so many girls struggle with body confidence issues. It makes me sad that most people view me as lucky because I am naturally slim and have a fast metabolism when that is just because society said it is what beauty is.
The funny thing is I should not feel guilty because this is the way my body naturally is - I am eating normally and healthily and go about my daily life without really thinking about whether I am slim or have gained weight or not. The whole point of body positivity is to accept yourself the way your body naturally is and the way it changes - to encourage body confidence. But, I wanted to talk about this because I feel often there is an idea that if you are skinny, that you are body confident and have absolutely no insecurities. I am writing this to break that stereotype and state that everyone, even people who may conform to the beauty standard in some ways have their own insecurities.
I may be slim, but I definitely do not have all the body features that the media tells you is "beautiful". My belly button is outwards instead of inwards, my breasts are on the small side and I am not as curvy as some of the models presented. Truth is, very very few women naturally have the body types that are presented to us as the norm and 99.9% of those images are photoshopped anyway.
I never really gave body image much thought during my early teens (I am so glad for it) and it was only in the last few years that I actually became more self-conscious about certain parts because of changes in my body. That, the fact more people commented on it and social media can be a toxic place. Your body is meant to change though - in the exact same way we expect to get older, we need to normalise changes in our bodies.
It is now summer, and as I am writing this, the UK among other countries is seeing a heatwave. That leads to wearing more revealing clothing and the typical posts on "summer body" (I don't believe in summer bodies - your summer body is your beautiful body however it looks). A reminder: even the people whose bodies you may idealise have insecurities, including people like me who conform to the media's ideal of a slim body.
I did an experiment recently, where I wore a bikini top (it is the correct size and fits me) that made me feel more self-conscious around the house around my family for about 3 days. Just as a way to break my comfort zone and love my body for what it is. To get used to seeing myself in something I thought didn't really look that great on me. Here is the conclusion I came to. The more I wore it the better I felt in my own body- the more I saw it on me, the more I normalised the way my natural body looks. The bikini top did not actually look 'odd' on me as I originally had thought - it fit me perfectly. The reason I was more self-conscious in it was because I was comparing it to what it would look like on models with fuller-looking breasts and a different body to me. But I am not the photoshopped model - I am a girl with a normal unfiltered body.
If you are reading this and you feel that you don't feel as confident as your body as you would like to or guilty for not looking a certain way, I encourage to do what I did. Wear something that you feel doesn't look as nice on you because it does not look like the filtered image we are presented. Get used to seeing yourself wearing it and let's change the game. Follow people with similar body types to yours on social media and normalise your own body type. All bodies are beautiful - whatever shape and size- let's own it.
To other girls that are naturally slim or those who do not have the "perfect" body type, we have nothing to feel guilty about for the way our natural body looks. Even if you naturally fit some of the body features considered ideal - it is nothing to feel bad about. We don't need another reason to feel bad about bodies when patriarchy already gives women enough reasons to be insecure about their bodies.
** I would just like to add that my story is not a reflection of the full picture and just of my experience. The body positivity movement at the moment is not as inclusive as it could be, often ignoring the impact factors such as race and being transgender can have. When it comes to body image and what is considered beautiful, harmful stereotypes such as how light your skin is, and whether it looks "feminine" unfortunately also influence how beautiful a woman's body is perceived. Intersectionality is so important to remember, which is why I wanted to mention it. But as a white woman, I cannot speak to the experiences of black women, women of colour and the LGBTQ community. I am instead linking posts of the experiences of Stephanie Yeboah, a black plus size woman and Chloe Amelia Lapper, a woman who transitioned on body confidence so you can hear their stories.
Posts on body confidence:
- Stephanie Yeboah's post on fat-shaming - her blog is amazing and such a good resource for body confidence. https://www.stephanieyeboah.com/2020/06/fat-is-not-a-bad-word.html
- The experience of Chloe Amelia Lapper and her journey with accepting her body. http://www.notplantbased.com/2018/08/20/transgender-body-positivity-eating-disorder-trans/
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