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September 21, 2019

“I want to get in Sick Shape” (But also Reject Diet Culture & Love & Accept Myself as I Am).


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*Warning! Some naughty language ahead.

I had a call with a new client, who was feeling guilty about wanting to lose some weight and look “hot as fuck” for the new year.

She told me she said she was afraid I wouldn’t approve, and that “trying to get in sick shape” went against all the self-love and acceptance work we were establishing.

So, let’s talk about that.

Personally, I’ve found an enormous amount of growth, freedom, and empowerment in breaking the “rules of hotness” as a woman.

I felt liberated when I shaved my head, casting off the feminine beauty ideals of long lush locks, and forcing people to see me. I felt more powerful when I stopped wearing makeup, more courageous when I stopped wearing bras, more open and vulnerable when I stopped working out and monitoring my food intake, and more human when I stopped painting my nails and let my body hair grow.

I love how it feels to reject societal beauty standards, and I love when other women do it, too.

It tends to have a profoundly liberating effect on anyone (like myself) who spent decades thinking it was my job to look desirable, that it was unacceptable to break the rules, and that women owe it to the world to look as “good” as possible all the damn time.

For that reason, yeah, I’m a big fan of casting off the rules you think you need to live by.

If you feel like you “have to” workout and diet, try quitting those activities and seeing what happens! If you feel like you “need to” wear makeup or get your nails done or your hair blown out, try skipping those things and experiencing what comes up! If you feel like you “can’t” wear a crop top or a bikini, go wear one and notice how it feels!

It’s liberating to realize that the “rules” you’ve been living by for decades are actually just made up nonsense and that nothing bad happens when you break them.

I love the idea of women rejecting the whole notion of conventional feminine hotness and breaking all the rules we’ve been taught are unbreakable. I love the idea of refusing to wear high heels, makeup, or feminine clothing. I love the idea of women with conventionally “imperfect” bodies wearing crop tops and bikinis and bright colors and whatever the fuck else they want.

I love the idea of making people uncomfortable when they look at you. In short, I love rejecting the pursuit of conventional beauty and hotness.

But that’s not to say that it’s unacceptable to play into those social standards or beauty norms, or to want the status and privilege of looking conventionally “hot.”

Being makeup-free is no better than wearing makeup.

Wearing flats is no better than wearing heels.

Going braless is no better than wearing a push-up bra.

And taking a break from workouts and food monitoring is no better than eating healthy and hitting the gym to “get in sick shape.”

Seriously. These are personal choices, and none of them affect your worth as a person (or a body positive warrior, or a feminist!) in the slightest.

First of all, it’s your body, which means you are literally the only person who gets to have an opinion about what you do with it.

Your body. Your choice. Full stop.

Second of all, we’re wired to crave approval, acceptance, regard, and belonging, and in our culture, beauty and thinness are status symbols for women—how we look creates or destroys our social capital and offers us access to kindness, respect, opportunities, and resources.

Yeah, that’s pretty fucked-up (and I hope someday we dismantle that whole system) but that’s how it is right now. Dressing up in fitted, feminine clothing, getting our hair blown out, and wearing makeup makes people treat us differently, and we’re also treated differently if we’re visibly thin/fit versus not.

In general, the closer a woman is to the conventional beauty standard, the more privilege, status, kindness, respect, and opportunity she gets.

Given that fact, it’s no wonder so many women want to get closer to the conventional standards for beauty—we want acceptance, kindness, respect, opportunities, and resources! Not to mention wanting to look attractive to partners or potential partners!

Can you accept this, and have compassion for yourself? Can you recognize that by wanting to look “hot” you’re really pursuing a deep emotional need for acceptance, respect, kindness, love, safety, and belonging?

The issue with wanting to look “hot” is when it’s not really a choice anymore, but instead, it feels like a burden; an obligation; a necessity whose lack makes someone feel anxious, panicky, insecure, or unlovable.

When that’s the case, I encourage my clients to recognize what emotional needs they’re trying to use their appearance to fulfill, to identify what they’re really chasing, and then consider if there are other ways they can get that thing more directly. (Hint: there always is.)

That way, looking “hot” isn’t about earning their worth or trying to get their needs met. Which is good, because that shit does not work.

Instead, pursuing “hotness” via conventional beauty standards like makeup, sexy clothing, or physical training can just be exactly what it is—a fun and empowering option; a choice to be made about a person’s own body, with absolutely no bearing on the person’s value or worth.

May we all feel free to pursue whatever TF we want.


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