Because of, Not in Spite of

Someone on Twitter today linked to this page – a collection of worded photos of women listing their flaws and then declaring themselves nevertheless awesome. The introductory text reads, “Your ‘flaws’ do not define you,” and its purpose seems to be to make women feel better about themselves.

To me, a bunch of perfectly lovely-looking women listing all their flaws doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel sad. And that it is hosted on a page where the header is a series of images showing the transformation of the blog owner from fat to thin on a site which pushes a weight-loss book… This very much does not make me feel better.

I suppose I could tell you I’m fat, I’m short, I’m ageing. I could tell you that I have stretch marks and scars, that my legs are too chunky to wear knee-high boots, that I have the flabby biceps possessed by all the women of my family, that I have child-bearing hips that’ll never bear children and frown lines and crow’s feet and funny-shaped fingernails and grey streaks and split ends and a jiggly belly and a big nose and crooked teeth.  And then I could insist that I’m awesome in spite of all this.

Or I could say that I fucking love my body, even the disobedient bits, even the bits that society deems negative, even the bits which make it difficult for me to find clothing. That, in fact, I love it because of those things. That I cherish my lines and wrinkles as a physical memory; that those wrinkles and my grey streaks were fucking hard-won from a billion stresses and trials that I’d never erase from my life because they make me who I am. That the configuration of breasts and hips I have been blessed with make me feel like a goddess. That I love the line of my big nose. That my hair is gorgeous and lush. That my calves are strong and shapely. That my crooked teeth and funny-shaped fingernails are so uniquely me.

And then I could say that despite THIS, some days I have trouble feeling awesome. It is hard when there are multiple billion-dollar industries to tell you otherwise, and when these industries are so successful that they convince other women to police our bodies for us. The competitive diets I’ve been invited to partake in. The friend who tried to convince me to dye my grey away when I was job-hunting, genuinly believing it would be a hindrance. The friendly suggestions of Botox.

But I make a conscious effort to feel awesome anyway, because that is my right, and it is everyone’s right. Because feeling utterly good in my body is the most powerful weapon I have against the weight-loss, anti-ageing, flaw-hiding, plastic surgery industries.  And because, damn it, I am awesome. As are you – not in spite of your supposed flaws, but because of them. Because they are part of the fabric that makes you you.

My awesome body.

My awesome body. My face is just too radiant to be captured in an image!

Whole Body Acceptance

I’ve been reading a few fat acceptance blogs lately, many of which are awesome, inspiring, entertaining and bloody good reads.

I can’t personally identify with fat acceptance.  I don’t identify as fat.  I suspect I probably should.  My latest purchases have been of the size 16 to 18 categories and my BMI is… actually, I have no idea, but I feel fairly confident that it wouldn’t put me in the “underweight” category.  But looking around at the sum total of humanity, I don’t see myself as being too far beyond the top of the bell curve (and just to clarify – I don’t see any problem with being over the crest of the bell curve.  I’m just not there.)

Besides, of all the women I’ve ever met, I am struggling to name a single one who is entirely happy with their body.  It’s not just about fat, although it often is, even amongst women who are notably not fat (I once had the displeasure of listening to a professionally successful, tall, witty, smart, slender woman speak for an entire evening about her fat ankles.  And you know what?  They weren’t the most delicate ankles I’ve ever seen.  Would I have noticed had she not spent the night bleating about them? Not a bloody chance.)

For me, it’s not just accepting my wibblier bits.  It’s accepting my wild, greying hair, my too-small eyes, my too-big nose, my mix-and-match fingernails, my odd-shaped toes – and, yeah, the societally acceptable things too – my ogle-worthy cleavage, luscious lips, high cheekbones, shapely legs.  It’s about loving every bit of me for exactly what it is, regardless of whether it elicits compliments or scorn, and loving the bits that elicit compliments not just because other people approve of them.  It’s about accepting this collection of parts as the whole that is me.