Friday, November 13, 2009

In defense of liking my body

In response...

Anonymous...


"your hourglass shape, "straight normal-size nose," "firm arse" etc. etc. are all just as much parts of the culturally imposed beauty ideal as thinness is."
I suppose so yes, but I'm I think thinness is beautiful as long as it's not from starvation...   Things belonging to the social ideal aren't automatically ugly.  And neither are things not-belonging.  I, personally, don't feel the need to reject every aspect of an ideal which is part of the culture I belong too - I do think our cultural ideal needs to expand with our cultural experience, and in line with reality.

"By listing them as reasons to like your body you're implying that the only reason to like your body is if it looks as close as possible to that beauty ideal. "
I fear I have been misunderstood, or perhaps not set the scene strongly enough.  I was referring to finding things I like specifically while looking in the mirror.  There are other things I like about my body, but that I can't necesserily see in the mirror - such as my physical strength, or my sense of touch. And you can be beautiful or sexy and not fit into the cultural ideal; and there's plenty of me that doesn't. An example of beauty i can see from where I'm sitting, my boyfriend is the most beautiful person I've ever known, in every way - he's quite short (which is sexy), and has a beard (handsome) - not exactly the ideal for the North East of England).
How do you think women whose boobs are saggy, or whose noses aren't "straight and normal sized" (which is also a very racialized concept) should learn to love their bodies
Look for things THEY like about THEIR bodies?
As to it being a racialised concept, I'm was talking about myself - and I'm a white middle class woman about in the UK, about to turn 30. So yes, I'm referring to my own racial and cultural standards here, because truthfully I don't have alot of experience outside of my these bounds. I don't claim to speak for anyone else here, it's a pretty self-involved project all told.

How do you think women whose bodies are less culturally acceptable than yours might feel when they read this post?  If there is nothing that is generally considered attractive about a woman's body, is her body not worthy of respect?
I would hope that they'd be able to find beauty somewhere in themselves. I would hope they realise that I'm talking about myself and not critisising them.

If you, Anonymous, honestly believe your own body is 'less culturally acceptable' to my body (which you've not seen) and want me to second-guess how you feel: I hope you love your 'culturally unacceptable' body, and if you don't then I hope that you can start opening yourself to seeing things you do love about yourself.

I suspect, however from your comment and the fact you don't want to reveal your identity, that you feel pretty bad. I'm sorry if you do, because I've spent more than 15 years feeling pretty bad too.  I suspect that you're so used to seeing insult and cultural pressure that you apply it to anything you read. I suspect you might not like yourself very much and if that's the case I'm sorry that you chose to interpret what I said about liking myself as a personal attack on you. But I don't know who you are, or any of these theoretical people who might be reading - it's not really my responsibility to second-guess anyone's feelings, they can think whatever they want.
If there is nothing that is generally considered attractive about a woman's body, is her body not worthy of respect?
And yes, everyone's body is worthy of respect.

The revelation to me, in saying that, is that for the one of the first times I've said it I've not silently added "except mine."

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:47 am

    Hey, this is the same anon. Sorry if my comment came across as an attack on your personal feelings; it absolutely wasn't meant that way. Actually, I feel fine about my body, and I'm close to the cultural ideal in a lot of ways(size eight 21 year old white chick). I just happened to stumble on your post by following links from a feminist blog (I think I went from feministing to jezebel to shapely prose to here), and I responded to it as I would a piece from a blog where feminist or sociological conversations are meant to happen. In spaces like that I've been doing a lot of talking lately about the ways in which women's self worth is so tied up in the beauty standard, so that's what I was thinking about when I commented. It looks like this isn't the place for that, so I apologize, I totally didn't mean to shove my analysis into your personal blog entry! I'm glad to know that you're feeling good about your body, and I wish you luck in the future.

    P.S. I'm anon because I don't have a blog and prefer not to spread my e-mail address around online.

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  2. Anonymous9:40 am

    I think the commenter's problem with your list is that all the positive things are considered positive in the mainstream beauty ideal and all the negative things are probably considered negative in the mainstream beauty ideal. It doesn't necessarily mean you're actively buying into that ideal, but it is unlikely that you have escaped influence by it completely and it's all just coincidence. So if everyone's lists of things they liked and disliked followed the same pattern, the "like" lists would be shorter and the "dislike" lists longer the farther away their bodies were from the ideal, creating a hierarchy with the perfect blonde supermodels at the top. I don't think there is anything wrong with your list in itself but it doesn't really defy that ideal either.

    -meerkat

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  3. Anonymous11:42 am

    you missed your cute little ears, although maybye you couldn't see them with the lovely volume you're getting in your hair recently.

    Darkponce

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  4. All your comments are appreciated - an outside perspective gives me things to think about. And write about. Thank you very much. The comment-posting system does seem to mean you have to be anonymous if you don't want to give out your email, so from now I encourage you to sign at the bottom with a name or handle, just so we can differentiate between all you all.

    xxx

    BB

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  5. Anonymous10:56 am

    I'm not so sure it's possible to be "ideologically pure" on this. In honesty, most if not all of us have probably internalized the so-called beauty standards of our culture to a high degree, with regard to ourselves AND others. For instance, I'm always going to adore tall, dark, handsome guys and appreciate my full lips and (relatively) narrow waist. It seems disingenuous to claim otherwise. I think the best we can shoot for as adults is to broaden our appreciation to a wider variety of traits, be they physical or intangible; IOW, cultivate honest appreciation and respect for a much more inclusive demographic.

    And celebrate the day when we can look in the mirror and say, yeah, yeah, that's gorgeous, lovin' that .... instead of blanket-invalidating the entire package because of the ways we fail to conform to those cultural norms and thus fall short of "perfection". First step, innit?

    --Vixen

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  6. It occurs to me that it is more important for BB to love and accept her own unique body than it is for her to manifest some kind of universal fat body love that would apply even to the troll recently featured on "Merlin."

    After all, beauty is not a zero-sum game. She might love your long blond hair and admire short black hair on someone else. She might like the appearance of both her cute little nose and my emphatic Roman nose. She might look in the mirror and admire her hourglass figure, and also admire the big, rounded belly of an apple-shaped burlesque dancer.

    Of course our ideas about appearance are influenced by our society's beauty standard, but on the other hand, it's not that simple, and enjoying the appearance of one type of feature doesn't mean not liking another.

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Anonymous comments are allowed, but I would appreciate if you could 'sign' at the bottom with a name or handle, so we have something to refer to you as in any further comments/posts