Breaking Bad Body Habits Online. ~ Crystalee Calderwood

Via Crystalee Calderwood
on Mar 26, 2014
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botero fat couple sculpture

What’s “superficial” is telling me that I can’t be proud of my body until I lose 100 pounds or my blood pressure goes down—whichever comes first.

Up until recently, I used Pinterest the same way most women do: to collect craft ideas I will never make and delectable recipes I don’t have the skill to cook. It was a total, mind-numbing time-waster that somehow seemed more productive than playing random games.

That was until I saw among all the frivolous pins an article written by a woman named Jes, better known as “The Militant Baker.” Before she became internationally known for her “Attractive and Fat” photo shoot and open letter to the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch, she wrote this amazing blog entry called “Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls… So I Will.” Right there, in print, were all the things I have ever wanted to hear.

“You’re allowed to fall in love with yourself. I promise.”

That statement hit me the hardest. Even though I had recently found love with a man who loved my curves, I had yet to fall in love with myself. I have spent 30 years in this body, 30 years of ups and downs (mostly ups) with my weight, 30 years of on and off teasing and tormenting and self-hate.

That kind of thing doesn’t just disappear overnight; no blog could make it go away instantly. But there was Jes, looking hot in her pencil skirt, leopard print blouse, purple hair and bright red high heels at size 22, telling me I was gorgeous, and I knew she wouldn’t lie to me.

The first pin led me to read another article, and another, and eventually an entire book about positive body image. I now follow a half dozen or so like-minded women on Pinterest who focus on the beauty of bigger ladies, and I have a board of my own called “Embrace Yourself, You’re Beautiful.” I started the board as a way to remind myself my body was not flawed, but I do hope others follow it and take it to heart as well.

There are an amazing amount of “body positive” websites and blogs with the mission of reminding women that their size does not equal their worth. My Pinterest activity is my (small) way of contributing.

botero face woman sculpture fat

I never prepared myself for any negative feedback.

To me, sharing those images and resources was something I had to do. So, when someone left a comment on one of my images basically saying, “It’s cool you’re pinning all these things about fat being beautiful, but that’s a really superficial view. Being fat causes health problems, and that’s why fat is bad,” I really didn’t know what to say. I took a deep breath and took a really long time composing a polite response.

After I got over my initial anger, I had to chuckle at this woman. Me, superficial? Do you think I post images of fat women doing yoga and sayings about loving your body, fat and all, because I love to look at myself? Do you think I don’t know that I am overweight? Do you think I’ve never heard anyone say obesity is an epidemic, we should all be exercising more, or I should join Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers?

No, focusing on the beauty of the female body is not superficial. What’s “superficial” is assuming health based on how a person looks. What’s “superficial” is telling me that I can’t be proud of my body until I lose 100 pounds or my blood pressure goes down, whichever comes first.

Let me make one thing clear: I don’t post these images as a way to say “Ignore your cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes!”

I post them because there are women who have spent their entire lives thinking they are unattractive, unworthy, and undesirable, because there are far too few images in our society that give us permission to be ourselves. I post them because this “thinspo” (thin-spiration images) movement tells millions of young women they are worthless if they aren’t stick-thin. (And frankly, I doubt this woman was posting on their boards, all concerned about their health.) I post them because big, beautiful women need self-esteem just as much as thin, beautiful women do. Millions of women don’t love their bodies, and how are we supposed to take care of something we don’t love?

Many people see this “problem” backwards. They think that by hitting some magical number on the scale, we will suddenly be happier with our lives. Men will desire us and life will be so much easier. Well, ladies, I’m telling you that men will desire you no matter what your dress size, if only you learn to desire yourself first. Life will be easier for you only if you don’t allow your weight to equal your self-worth.

But breaking the habit of seeing your body as something holding you back is not easy. That’s why I created a Pinterest board and have started writing about body image. That’s why we need more women like Jes in the world; more voices that aren’t afraid to speak up and more beautiful bodies that aren’t afraid to be seen.

As I found out on Pinterest, not everyone is going to support a body-love movement, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t participate. If you’ve ever felt inferior because of your body, do yourself a favor and check out The Militant Baker’s blog. Let the body love movement start with your own, small, personal step.

 

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Photos: janeyhenningDaniel Echeverri / Flickr

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About Crystalee Calderwood

Crystalee Calderwood usually writes for kids, which will make this rare article worth a lot of money when she’s famous. You can follow her on twitter @crystaleec or on Facebook.

Comments

6 Responses to “Breaking Bad Body Habits Online. ~ Crystalee Calderwood”

  1. Theresa says:

    I think that the most positive view that we can have is that no matter what your size you can be beautiful. Yes we can celebrate thin girls for their beauty. And Yes, we can celebrate more curvy girls for their beauty too. You are right that as long as you love yourself others will love you. You don't have to feel bad about being what you are, no matter what that is. I noticed that a lot of people on the big is beautiful bandwagon have started to vilify the thinner girls. I think this is just as the other way around. Embrace it all, love it all, and just let what it is be ok!

  2. crystaleecalderwood says:

    I agree! We don't do our gender any favors when we put each other down based on our bodies- thin or thick! The "real women look like this" memes are damaging to thin women, and it's a shame that some who claim to be part of the "body love" movement are starting to put down thinner women. That's not "body love." Plain and simple.

  3. mightystiky says:

    I'm so glad someone is saying this, well, besides me. I've always been on the thinner side despite eating like a horse. No seriously, you can ask people who knew me through band, and they'll tell you I ate a lot (be it salads, turkey subs, or anything involving chicken). The thing is, I was happy with my body until the Dove ads started floating around. Then I felt like crap for being thin. I am afraid that if I visit a place that purports body love that I'm going to be sneered at because I've never worn more than a size 4 in my life. I run because I try to drown out those doubts, which means I have to eat more in order to keep my metabolism from skyrocketing. It's an unhappy thing, and I'm glad to see other voices saying that slams against thinner women are not okay. Still, it'll take me some time before I talk candidly about my body on the internet, especially since I like my body enough to try to eat myself into a different shape that's ultimately not me.

  4. AFaith says:

    I got here from writing.com; great article! ~AFaith

  5. crystaleecalderwood says:

    In my experience, it is hard for heavier women to even realize that thin women have issues with their weight. A lot of us think, "What does SHE have to be self conscious about? She's thin and gorgeous!" That was my thought until recently, until I started seeing these "this is what a real woman looks like" memes that call thin women "not real women." Most of the heavier women I know simply want their body shapes to be more socially acceptable and don't want to offend women of smaller sizes. . . But it's clear that there's a small group emerging who are using the platform to put down others, and that's not okay.

    Thank you for the dialogue. I need to sort through my thoughts on this subject and maybe write another article. 😉

  6. mightystiky says:

    It's a small group, but they're vocal. I haven't gathered the courage to visit the This is Thin Privilege Tumblr, but I hear that particular place spreads this message fairly often. Even outside of that venue, it's intimidating for thinner women to join discussions about body acceptance and related topics. I tried to do that on Offbeat Home and Life (specifically http://offbeathome.com/2013/08/body-shaming#.Uz4s… and that made me skittish partly because of the word privilege being used. It might be that word that bothers me. If you do write another article on this topic, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the word privilege in relation to body acceptance.

    On a more positive note, It's reassuring to hear there are heavier women that want their body shapes to be more accepted without wanting to resort to exclusionary rhetoric. I just have to find more of them and maybe hang around them more.