Easier said than done, Pinterest.
It happens when we pretend that juicing is eating and let whether or not something fits determine the course of our day. It happens when we pose in painful positions for maximum Instagram thinness. It happens when we endorse the myth that there are no clothes that look good on our bodies and that no one could ever love us with those arms or that ass. It happens when we hide this ongoing mindfuck because worrying about your looks isn't attractive. It happens when we put these concerns above those others we would all like to focus on instead.
All of which is easy to do and easy to rationalize (please see the Thigh Judgment one more time) but also incredibly distracting and necessary to resist with every ounce of yourself. Because if you don't resist the self-loathing, you're helping make it a permanent part of the female condition. Sometimes I think about all of the times women, including myself, have spent hating and sometimes abusing their bodies. I think about everything we, or I, at least, could have been doing instead, thereby demonstrating that actually, being female doesn't require you to dislike or abuse yourself. I think about how it never felt like it, but I always had a choice. And then I think, "What happened to the revolution? We put it on a diet."
Brooke Birmingham's Response to Shape
Birmingham wrote about the situation on her blog Brooke: Not On A Diet, including screen shots of her email exchange with the Shape freelancer writing the piece. "My body is real, not Photoshopped or hidden, because I feel like I should be ashamed. This is a body after losing 172 pounds, a body that has done amazing things, and looks AMAZING in a freaking bikini," Birmingham wrote.
The blog post went viral, and Shape changed its tune, planning to feature Birmingham — and her body — in a new feature on how major weight loss actually looks on a woman's body.
Plus-Size Pole Dancer Emma Haslam's Britain's Got Talent Routine
The expressions on the judges' faces before Haslam started her routine said everything about how we've been taught to think about women of size and what their bodies should and shouldn't be seen doing. Haslam undermined all of that with her attitude and skills.
The Expose Project
"When was the last time you opened up your browser and saw a beautiful image of a body shape that looked just like yours?" asked activist blogger Jes Baker in a blog post introducing the Expose Project, a collaboration with photographer Liora K that invited women in Tuscon, Arizona to disrobe and reveal what actual female bodies look like. The resulting photos are, obviously, beautiful and joyful and convey the opposite of the isolation we all feel when criticizing our own individual bodies. These pictures show diversity, but also the community that is more possible when women refuse to be ashamed of themselves.
The 4th Trimester Bodies Project
The Love Your Lines Project
Instagram is known as a forum for representing your life and your body in idealized form, which made the Love Your Lines project launched by two mothers on the East Coast even more powerful. They started the Love Your Lines Instagram account to raise awareness of the fact that most people have stretch marks of some kind, especially people who have given birth to other humans, and showcase the beauty of those bodies. They started receiving submissions immediately. “I’m a mother of 3… I have learned to love my body, love lines included," the woman pictured above captioned her photo.
The Harvard Rugby Team
Between the hazing rituals, the social pressure, and the prevalence of sexual assault, college is not exactly known for inspiring healthy body image. This year, the Harvard women's rugby team sought to counteract those negative influences with a photo shoot where team members wrote positive messages on each other's bodies. The photos, posted on a team Tumblr called Rugged Grace, emphasize strength and what these women's bodies feel and do rather than how they look or should look.
Gabi Fresh's Fatkini Movement
In 2012, for the second year in a row, plus-size style blogger Gabi Gregg posted photos of herself looking gorgeous, and more importantly, confident and happy in a series of bikinis. In the post and a subsequent slideshow on xoJane, she coined and happily owned the term "fatkini." The photos, the term (which obviously became a hashtag), and Gregg's own swimwear line launched, or helped launch, an entire movement of plus-size women showing off how great they feel in clothes not limited to but including two pieces. The idea that women larger than a size 12 are proud of their bodies and want to spend money on beautiful, stylish clothes has since changed the fashion industry. The Sept. 22, 2014 issue of The New Yorker chronicles the rise of plus-size fashion as a significant source of revenue for brands, no to mention a long overdue recognition that plus-size women are not invisible.
Runway Role Models at Carrie Hammer
At fall 2014 New York Fashion Week last February, workwear designer Carrie Hammer also challenged the fashion world status quo by including the first ever model in a wheelchair, Dr. Danielle Sheypuk. The psychologist, who has been in a wheelchair since age two, rocked a black blouse and newsprint skirt, and the photos went viral.
This September, Hammer's show featured bacterial meningitis surviver Karen Crespo, a quadrupal amputee who received her prosthetic limbs just a few days before the show and walked the runway with a body that disease changed more vastly in a few years than weight loss or childbirth ever could. That is confidence.