Becoming body positive was not an overnight transition for me. It was a slow, conscious choice that I made over the course of a few years after becoming more and more exasperated with the images I was viewing in the media. There’s a list as long as my arm of magazines I won’t read anymore and of web sites I won’t visit all thanks to their body shaming preferences. I’m not only referring to body shaming experienced by those who plus size – I’m referring to experiences by anyone who doesn’t have the preferred type portrayed by the media. Thin persons, disabled persons, trans persons and persons of colour all feel body shamed as well.
Summertime, however, brings about a whole mess of advertisements, articles and bullshit about getting that bikini body or dressing for the body you have not the body you want. And to all that stuff I say: Fuck off. A bikini body is achieved by putting a bikini on a body. It gets hot in the summer and even though I don’t have the same proportions as the model on the magazine cover I’m still going to wear the same dress as her.
It’s sort of bizarre that figuring out what to wear can feel like a political act. The beauty industry has done a great job of putting us into a state of compliance so that they’re not only policing us but we’re policing ourselves. Somehow it was agreed upon that bodies would be placed into categories and labeled like fruits and vegetables. I always wondered where the ‘how to dress for a human body’ articles were. This type of labeling greatly helps the beauty industry profit by causing consumers shame for not having the right type of shape and therefore buying what they’re told will make them appear more attractive.
Understanding the sales monster behind body shaming gave me a lot of strength to fight back against the beauty industrial complex. This business model makes money by tricking people into believing they need certain makeup or clothes or shoes or handbags to be worthy of attention. When I leave for the day in something that’s not in the approved styles for the shape I am, I hope the industry sees the giant middle finger I’m holding up to them. I’ve chosen not to be defined by their narrow standard of beauty.
My body and I have recently gotten to know one another better than ever before. This form of mine has held me up through a couple really challenging years with depression. While I used to not treat my body very well, now I’m gentler with it. I no longer demand it to require less food and to run faster. I believe our bodies are deserving of love and acceptance simply because they’re the tools we use to exist in this world. If a clothing style makes you feel good, then wear it. Any style can work on any body. Period.
It isn’t your job to make your body look good for others. There isn’t a rule for how to dress as a human being. I live in a hellish climate for 9 months of the year and I’ll be damned if someone is going to take away my pleasure of shorts and tank tops because the media says it doesn’t suit my body type. So this summer, keep it positive by reminding yourself how beautiful you are. And if you’re still on the road to loving your body know that you’re not alone.
How do you stay body positive in the summer months? Let me know in the comments below!