The weather is warming and the tulips are beginning to peek through the soil in some places (not where I live though it’s all slime and brown here). With warmer weather, we begin to pack away our bulky sweaters. As flowers bloom, our thoughts turn to all of those things that make summer so wonderful. There’s so much to look forward to like music festivals, drinks on patios, picnics, pool parties, and on and on.
One of the things about spring and summer that is not a delight is the combined slut and body shaming sure to be on the rise. As Pasadena Community College professor Hugo Schwyzer often tells his women’s studies classes “sisterhood is easier in the winter”. When warmer weather comes in, all sorts of internal and external anxieties about women’s bodies begin to appear.
I think all women are familiar with that uneasy tension that arises not just from the way others around you dress, but with your own wardrobe and body as well. I know from first-hand experience about covering myself up in layers of clothing to hide my body. While my mother and sister are svelte I am much more curvy, with an ‘hourglass’ figure that Marilyn Monroe fans (she’s the quintessential hourglass figure of course) assure me is very attractive, actually does not fit well into a lot of modern styles. Models are generally not full breasted and hippy. I am. I remember when I was 20 I went to the Internet in search for something that would tell me that even though I wasn’t skinny I was ok. I typed my height and weight 5’6 155 lbs (omg my weight is now on the Internet) into a Yahoo answer and asked vulnerably, pitifully “am I ok”? The answers were not very reassuring. The lesson is that sometimes you have to find acceptance of yourself, by yourself.
You don’t need to pick yourself apart, and a great way to stop doing that is to learn to accept other body types around you. Doing promotional modeling was really helpful to me here there were so many girls who were traditionally magazine –model beautiful, and then there was me. What I learned from working with these women was that, gasp, they were actually people and not just attractive bodies on display. They had ambitions and thoughts, and they weren’t the mean girls from high school. So no matter what they are wearing or what shape their body is remember that these women are your sisterhood—and as Gloria Steinem once said, “Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That’s their natural and first weapon. She will need her sisterhood”. Be kind to the women around you because we need each other.
Another way to help with body acceptance is to do affirmations. I know, they are really really cheesy and it can be hard to look at yourself in the mirror everyday and find something about yourself that you love. But you should. Be it your eyes, your arms, your breasts or your knees find something about yourself that you find beautiful. There are messages in society that will try to tell you that you are unacceptable, and so you need to spend time actively countering that body-shaming messaging we are always passively receiving. Making yourself acceptable to other people is not in the best interest of your health or your goals. Your body is the most transient thing about you and it will not be the same next week, or next year. Learn to love the ride.