Yep. That's a picture of my ass. On the interwebs.
I talk quite a bit about feminism here, but not a lot about body-positivity. You know why that is? 'Cos I don't really think about bodies that much. Part of this comes from privilege: I've always been a cis-gendered white (enough to pass, anyway) woman of proportions considered "thin enough", by our society's twisted beauty-standards. Not that being any of those things actually protects you from developing a distorted body image, or the outright body-shaming, practiced regularly by our media.
The other part is, that I seem to have an imperviously positive image of my own body. You know that thing most of us hear when a girlfriend (or a dude friend, or some other friend) complains about their body, where you want to just shake them and be like "What are you talking about, your body is awesome?!?!?! That's kind of the voice I hear in my head, almost as soon as I start worrying about my weight, height, or cellulite. And then I just sort of forget about it, until I see a picture of myself next to someone thinner, or with less muscular thighs, or bigger bosoms. Somehow my mind just tricks me into seeing myself the way I want to.
Since I got sick around the Holidays (Four months ago!) I've been steadily gaining a little bit of weight, so at first looking at these pictures, I was a little bit shocked. This in spite of literally busting out of my two bras, all of my undies and most of my jeans. "I have back fat?! What the heck?"
I'm about ten pounds heavier than I was a year ago. I'm still more or less the same "size", though on the upper edge of it, and not over-weight, or whatever the industry term is. I'm a healthy weight, just lacking the energy for my usual ten-mile-bike-rides, and long walks.
I knew I'd gained weight, but I just kind of went "Oh, well!" and moved on. And after the second look, these pictures seemed okay too.
Still, the idea of putting images of myself online that were less-than-flattering did give me a little bit of pause. Except, that I took these pictures to show off my new favorite pair of "Feminism Is Freedom"-shorts.
And what is more feminist than candid, honest pictures of your body online? After all, the online world, increasingly a world of advertising, of carefully crafted self-images is dominated by "perfect" bodies, often photoshopped to oblivion, or at least tucked in, and taken from a flattering angle, is sorely lacking ordinary bodies, and candid shots. The habit of always selecting the most flattering images, is an almost unconscious one for many of us, whether it be your profile picture, your bio, or your style blogging image. While I still love an outfit shot with imagination, I try to pepper mine with enough of the ordinary to disabuse anyone of the notion that I might have the perfect body, or the perfect soul.
I guess someone (hey mom!) might ask whether it's necessary at all to put images of oneself on the internet, but I've cleared that hurdle a long time ago: as a personal blogger, someone who's trying to actively engage with the medium, rather than simply consume it, pictures of myself are a part of that lexicon. I'm comfortable with that. And I'm even more comfortable if those images represent what I really look like when I'm just hanging out in my yard, planting and egg hunting.
I loved discussing this with Phoebe during our visit. We talked about she wants her art to represent folks of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities, without making a fuss about it, while still making a statement. How she was printing her T-Shirts in as many sizes as possible, and having them modeled by folks of all stripes. Because most of us don't see enough representations of ourselves in the world. We discussed how even as middle-class white girls, we felt the media had constantly failed us with the images that were suppose to represent us. How a lot of young women keep looking for themselves in the skinny, large-breasted, and carefully preened, starved, trimmed representations we are offered. How older women are damn near invisible in the media at times. How hard we all have to squint to see ourselves. How we have to constantly justify our presence, and our preoccupations to a world poised to disapprove of our bodies, and ourselves.
When I really start paying attention to that, I'm grateful for my optimistic body image. There's better things to worry about than something you can't change.
Baby's got back fat, and a brand new pair of shorts! Nothing to see here.
How are you and your body getting along?