21 Nov What is a “real” Body?
The other day my boyfriend made a comment that sent me into a down spiral of insecurity (and body dysmorphia, if I’m being honest). His intention wasn’t to hurt, but to paint a picture of a trend he’s been seeing. “Real bodies are making a comeback. Women like you and ________ (insert body positive influencer who is a few sizes bigger than me) are really changing the way women’s bodies are viewed”.
See? He was giving a compliment. But, my conditioned mind only saw the comparison and treated it as an attack. Was I not toned enough? Was I not thin enough? Was I TOO thin? Was my booty too small? Did he say that because my boobs sit a little lower than they did in my 20s? It wasn’t until I had a moment to step away from my insecurities that i was truly able to reflect on and digest what he said.
It later dawned on me that most people don’t really know what “real bodies” are. We are so inundated with images of thin and fit women who lack giggle, lines, and dents… that we are blind to what real even means.
My boyfriend’s analysis of my body as “real” was correct in that there is giggle, and there are lumps and some stretch marks and my body has not been altered in anyway (aside from a few rounds of laser hair removal) What he didn’t account for is that even I am considered thin and therefore, somehow celebrated and accepted for my adjacentness to thinness. A study published in 2016 in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education revealed that “the average size of an American woman is now between 16 to 18”. Average Size for Women: How to Determine Healthy Ranges
But that is not the average size of a woman I see in tv shows, on movies, while scrolling my IG feed or even flipping through magazines. We have been force fed this idea that toned, thin, and smooth is the norm— and it may be one of the biggest lies of the decade.
Women were made to hold weight. To be soft. To giggle. Our bodies are constantly changing, shifting, stretching, growing. What this conversation with him taught me is that a “real body” is one that is alive and unaltered (and there is also nothing wrong with that) A real body is the body that you live your life in, doing the things that you love. A real body is one that may not be perfect, that some days you love and other days you loathe. A real body is simply a body, and I invite you to take a moment this week to admire your own real body. Send it gratitude for functioning in the ways that it does, and offer it peace for the ways in which it may not. At the end of the day- what our bodies look like isn’t of much importance. What matters is that they are a home in which all of us has a right to feel comfortable in.