fredag den 4. april 2014

Why "Beauty at Any Size" Doesn't Work

(This post might be triggering to some, though I'm writing it with the best, most body positive intentions. I also want to underline, that what I'm writing is not directed at people with any eating disorder or similar issues.)

A couple of days ago, I had a very special moment on Tumblr. Many people who have a Tumblr account know, that it is home to both real and misunderstood feminism, body positivity and young people with bad selfconfidence who hate themselves. It can be both very serious, and a place to waste a serious amount of time when you just want to turn off your brain completely.

Usually, I just use it for the last point, hitting reblog on autopilot. 
I happen to, of course, be following a couple of friends on there, and a couple of days ago, one of them reblogged a post that made me stop. It broke my autopilot.

It was this animation with a bunch of skinny bodies. Thigh gaps and flat tummies and everything, flickering past one by one, and then the text "I need to be like these girls". The post still only had  about 25 notes, but knowing the self confidence issues of Tumblr, this was sure to blow up sooner or later. I'd seen plenty of posts kind of like that, but something about this specific post just seemed a lot more "In your face!" than any of the other ones.
So what do you do? I was a little torn. 

Part of my mind was hindered by what the danish calls the "Jantelov" 
(my dictionary translates it to "The Jante Law", but I'm not sure how well know it is outside of Denmark and Scandinavia)
It's like a mindset- Part of it is "don't think you're capable of making a difference!" and since I grew up with that, my head told me that it would be obnoxious of me to try and make a difference. It would be obnoxious of me to make a lengthy note with my opinion written beneath somebody else's post, telling them why I think it was wrong. Even if I found the post to be harmful, and I knew that post would cause nothing but pain to a lot of people. But why should anybody care what I think? This is none of my business!
Long story short, I jumped at it, and I wrote a lengthy note beneath the post, expressing my opinion.
To my surprise, I had received a message the next morning. Surprising, since I'm not the kind of Tumblr person who gets a lot of messages or replies to my posts.

It turns out the message was from the girl who had made the post in the first place. She told me that my comment on her post had changed her mind. It had inspired her to join a Fitness center, throw out the fastfood and she had bought a new pair of shorts (in a healthy size!) for summer, to motivate herself.
This moved me so, so much.
I had managed to make a difference, in a much bigger way than I had hoped for. But I see a lot of "body acceptance" on the internet. 

I see plenty of "curvy girls are beautiful girls" and "beauty at any size" and so on. How did a simple post I made on Tumblr, manage to make a girl who had obviously been powerfully envious at "skinny girls" strive towards becoming not skinny, but healthy?

I've been considering my stance on this issue for a long time, and here's what I think. 

This was also the views that I expressed in that post I wrote.
Let me share the post, for starters. I excuse the swearing.

"No. You need to be like YOU, and to be happy! Not everyone has the physique to look like the women in the pictures, and not everybody should. 
It took me a long time to learn to understand that. Everybody’s “happy and healthy” is different. Yours is sexy, too! If you’re not happy with yourself the way you are, if you want to lose weight, do it! Go for a run if you can, or find some other way to be active, eat healthy, and watch how treating your body right benefits your gorgeous body.
But please promise me that you won’t eat less or hurt yourself. A body in motion needs nutrition to survive. It just needs the right stuff. The good stuff, like lean proteins and salads.

Please, promise me that you’re gonna be good to yourself. If I could’ve told myself the things I’m telling you know, I would’ve spared myself months of hell. Today I’m healthy and happy. I look nothing like the girls in the picture. I’m a little wider, because that’s my bonestructure, but I look fucking gorgeous because I work out. I bike. I do crunches and I eat right. 

Be healthy and happy! The two ingredients to being beautiful!"

I might have been a little emotional when I wrote that, but my points remain.

It's OK to not be satisfied with the way you look. If you're overweight, if you're too thin, it's totally OK to want to change.
The "beauty at any size" phenomenon that is going on right now, is not gonna change how you feel. Not being satisfied with your looks is a matter of being happy with what you see when you look in the mirror, and being told time and time again that what you're feeling when looking at yourself is wrong, is not gonna change that discomfort. That's why it hasn't really had any effect- the people who suffer from dissatisfaction with themselves, do not agree.

What I think is able to erase the pain, though, is being good to yourself. 

What will make you feel better, is the understanding that everybody's body is different, but has the ability to look beautiful, when you've done all that you can to shape it up and polish it!
As an extra treat, the beauty that your body carries will be unique, because no two bodies look the same. You might find that you have beautiful legs, a nice waist or gorgeous curves!

It will be a magical experience, figuring out what brings out the best in you, when what you've got to work with, is in perfect shape, just like it was meant to be!

(I want to point out, as a footnote, that if you're overweight or thin and happy, it's none of my business. Rock it and live your life to the fullest!)

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