As a person assigned female at birth, I am subject to a lot of wild beauty norms and expectations regarding the ways in which I maintain or present my body. Embracing my body has never been an easy feat, when you consider the long list of what's attractive and what isn't outlined by society. Whether these norms and regulations be regarding my weight, gender, hygiene, or sex life, our culture isn't shy about putting images of the right way and the wrong way to look into our feeds. Being told what things we should be embarrassed by because of their inherent yuckiness is not fair to anyone, though, especially those who are looking to cultivate body positivity.
Embracing your fat body, your gender presentation, or your racial identity are all topics that have been covered by the body positive community in some way. But at the end of the day, many of us still go to bed with shame about some part of our body and the way it functions. Is it your morning breath? Your dry skin? Your patchy eyebrows?
Most of the things we are told are "flaws" are incredibly common and totally normal. So don't we deserve to also feel body positive about these parts of ourselves? Here are some characteristics we should think about reclaiming, and adding to our lists of aspects about ourselves we want wrapped up in body positivity.
1. Our Roots
For anyone who dyes their hair, it is common knowledge that the goal is to keep your roots the same color as the rest of your locks, which means re-dyeing hair once roots start growing in to cover them up. Personally, I think roots are pretty cool, and really bring a very punk rock, Courtney Love-esque vibe to your hair. Embrace your roots by dyeing them crazy colors, or bedazzle them with help from the glitter roots trend.
2. Our Eyebrows (Even When They Aren't "On Fleek")
I'm the first to endorse bold eyebrows, since I'm a self-professed brow product addict (and have been low key envying my sister's naturally thick and dark brows since we were kids). However, I think it's important that I also feel beautiful without any brow gel or pencil on. Being able to put my lack of arch, bounty of stray hairs, and that bald spot I acquired from a botched wax job a year ago on display for the world to see without shame would feel amazing.
3. Our Body's Natural Functions
What's so wrong about giving your pits a sniff? I don't see any reason to be grossed out by our own bodies: The odors they emit, the sounds they make, the fluids they secrete, and the gas they pass are totally normal functions that all humans go through. We smell pungent when we sweat, we get bad breath, we fart (sometimes during sex), and that's all perfectly fine. Bodies are "gross," but what's the point of being grossed out about yourself or hiding these natural functions at all costs?
4. The Circles Or Bags Under Our Eyes
Many of us have felt the struggle of sleep deprivation due to overworking, insomnia, or anxiety. Just like managing our stress levels in this hyper-stimulating day and age, it also can be hard to manage a healthy sleep schedule. Covering under-eye bags or circles can help motivate us to emulate a person with more energy than a zombie, but we shouldn't lament over how much we hate this part of ourselves.
Take it as your body's unique way of communicating that you need to have more of a good night's sleep. And if you feel daring, accessorize them with glitter stars.
5. Our Vagina/Genitals
Your vagina, capable of childbirth and mind blowing sex, is an amazing part of your body. Learning its anatomy and what feels right during sex and masturbation are some great body pos ways to show it a little love.
However, a lot of these conversations about loving your vagina exclude trans people, intersex people, people with conditions like vaginismus which makes penetration painful, or survivors of sexual assault. Not everyone feels completely comfortable with their vagina and penetration, nor does every feminine person have a vagina. Learning to love your genitals for exactly what they are, as well as being patient with what they are and aren't capable of, is helpful in embracing body positivity.
6. Our Skin
I've discussed embracing your skin conditions before, but have yet to see this be discussed in more depth in body pos circles. Even to the most body positive person, living with skin conditions can still be a huge source of shame for many. For those with acne, dry patches, uneven skin tone, eczema, psoriasis, burns, scars, wrinkles, age spots: I see you. You're beautiful, and you're not required to wear foundation every day to look put together or gorgeous.
7. Our Body's Response To Stress Or Illness
It can be super frustrating when our bodies respond to their environment in ways that limit us. If you're living with a chronic illness, living life "normally" can be nearly impossible. As someone who used to be bedridden from illness, and as someone who now deals with an anxiety disorder that can be very disruptive to my stomach, heart, and work schedule, I understand this frustration.
However, it's not fair to our bodies when we are so hard on ourselves. "Normal" means different things to every person, and although it's difficult, learning to be patient with your body during times of distress can make these experiences feel way less negative and consuming.
No matter what your abilities are, no matter what the tag in your jean size, no matter the glowing-ness or lack thereof of your skin, no matter how often you need to take a day off from your responsibilities to recover from pain or anxiety, you are still a beautiful human worthy of radical self love.
Images: Meg Zulch; Andrew Zaeh/Bustle (1)