“Because in a world where there is an immense pressure for women to look, act, and feel a certain way, when any woman decides to do something for herself and herself only, it is radical.Realizing that my body was actually mine and that I could do whatever I pleased was radically freeing. I had the opportunity to start from scratch and figure out what was beautiful in my eyes and not based on the perception of others.
I stepped outside the mold of what society defines as female beauty.
I finally took ownership of my own body, cutting myself free of the rules I thought were mandatory for women to follow.
Cutting my hair short was my way of forcing myself to redefine beauty on my own terms.
Cutting my hair led to a beautiful journey of self-love. I may have lost fifteen inches of hair, but I gained an honest love for myself that I never knew was possible.“
Above taken from the article 3 Bullsh*t Reasons Why Women Are Taught To Not Cut Our Hair Short (And Why You Can Do It Anyway). I highly recommend reading the rest of it!
I’ve often wondered about the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. I have a deep love and appreciation for things from other cultures, especially historical artifacts and designs (my inner archaeologist does a happy dance lol). I love being surrounded by textiles and art from around the world, it moves me deeply and makes me very happy. I love supporting native artists and having a home that visually reflects the diversity of my heart. But not all ethnic items are appropriate to wear or decorate with.
So which are ok for outsiders to use and which aren’t? What counts as cultural exchange and what is adopting another culture’s icons without their ok? It’s a grey area, but here’s what I personally think:
If the people from that ethnic culture aren’t happy about how those items or styles are being used, then we shouldn’t use them.
Listen to the people who created the styles or symbols. Are they ok with us using them? Were they exploited so we could have them in our homes, do they represent us conquering them? Do they have the power to say no to us using them? What’s the context of use, respect and honoring their heritage and culture, or belittling it as a Halloween costume or “edgy trend”? Did we buy that plastic Native headdress to honor them, or to look cool? Probably the latter. And it’s just not worth it.
It sounds complicated, and we’re all going to mess up at times, but the important thing is that we’re actively thinking about it and are open to changing if someone points out that we’re appropriating their culture.
I recently discovered that the term gypsy is incredibly offensive to the Romani people, it’s a derogatory term others gave to them. I no longer use that term and I don’t purchase artwork or items that say gypsy on it anymore. Native Americans have often spoken out about their Chieftain headdresses being used as costumes, and black people are upset when their ethnic hairstyles are copied by white people who don’t have to deal with the stigma that normally comes with those hairstyles. Ethnic styles are often used as a sexual fetish instead of being simply appreciated.
I tend to gravitate towards fair trade items, since the native people are gaining revenue from the sales and they’re ok with selling us these goods. I try to avoid replicas of things that have current religious significance to people, such as statues of gods or Native spiritual symbols that I don’t understand or have respect for. Not everything that is beautiful should be taken for ourselves… sometimes it’s best to admire it from a respectful distance.
This article had some great things to say about cultural appropriation and how grey of an area it can be.
When I was in college at barely 17 years old, I had America’s ideal body type. I was a svelte size 4, long blonde hair, blue eyes- everybody envied my body. But over the past decade my body has changed. My full adult figure developed, as well as a few extra pounds. Those “extra” pounds resulted in my being a size 14-16 (depending on the store). For years now I’ve been in a state of “temporary” clothing choices: I’ve intended to slim down, but it just hasn’t happened. I haven’t really cared about pounds or specific dress sizes, I just knew I wanted to be LESS. I’m not inactive, I biked 10 miles the other day, but I have a hard time sticking to a rigorous exercise routine. I eat decently well, but I haven’t been able to make myself stick to a strict eating routine (and I’m not sure I even want to anymore; I’d rather eat moderately well and enjoy my favorite foods!)
I’ve avoided buying anything expensive in my current size because what if I lose weight and then it’s wasted? I have always viewed my current body size as temporary. But it isn’t temporary, or at least I can’t view it that way anymore. My clothes don’t fit the way they should, I buy the cheapest stuff I can find because it’s just to “tide me over until I get to my long term size”, and so on. But I’ve been this size for years now- and I’m tired of living in limbo. Of course financial limitations have been an issue in my wardrobe choices too, but I could have bought some nicer things on more than one occasion. I just didn’t want to spend the money on them if I was going to change sizes soon anyways.
I no longer care if I lose weight down the road. I want to feel and look good in the size I am right NOW. And you know what? I look pretty damn good. I have lots of curves and my body shape is nothing to sneer at. And I don’t need to lose weight for health reasons since my health is just fine. So why do I rarely feel comfortable in my own skin? Residual body image issues are part of it, but more than anything I hate how my clothes look on me. They aren’t flattering, they aren’t comfortable, and I don’t feel like most of them represent my current fashion interests. I have a pile of jeans and not a single pair fits me like they should. I’ve had chronic acid reflux all my life, which is exacerbated by my jeans that are too tight in the waist. So how can I expect to feel sexy and confident when my wardrobe is “temporary ill-fitting chaos”?
I’ve also never seriously shopped in a plus size store. But I’m a very curvy woman, and many clothes designed for thinner people just don’t fit my body shape very well, even if they come in my size. And since even a size 12 is considered plus size these days, I really need to start shopping at stores that carry clothing specifically designed to flatter my particular body type. This is a mental barrier that I had never really addressed before. Why have I never sought out these stores? Because in my mind, I still see myself as a size 4-6 teenager like I was in college. I still see my current size as temporary even though it obviously is not.
So I’m going to start revamping my wardrobe. I’ll choose pieces that actually fit me just as I am, and I’ll stop trying to make my curvaceous body work in clothes that were not designed to flatter figures like mine. I’ll stop settling for “it’s ok, I can make it sort of fit” and go to a shop that can sell me something that actually fits me right the first time. I may also look into tailoring, it’s not very expensive (and I might be able to do it myself) and it can make a so-so garment fit incredibly well. From what I’ve been reading, tailoring is the best friend of curvier ladies since our body shapes are so diverse.
It’s ok to not be a size 6, or whatever size you’d like to be. You don’t have to always feel like you’re in limbo waiting for your size to get smaller before it’s acceptable to buy yourself clothes you actually like and that fit you well. I’m learning to love my body just as it is- to not wait until I’m smaller to treat my body right, but to start doing it right now. And I’m really excited!
This doesn’t mean I don’t still strive to improve my health whenever I can. I’m always interested in improving my health in ways that I can realistically manage while still enjoying life. But I’m learning that my health and my size are not necessarily connected, and that’s ok. It’s time to start loving the body I have- because it’s a pretty amazing body and I’m tired of viewing my differences as “flaws”.
Curvy is beautiful too. 🙂
If you got the makeover of your dreams, would you actually like the results? These ladies didn’t.
Women are beautiful in all shapes and sizes. I love that there is starting to be more of a push for diversity in modeling and the media. Not that being skinny is wrong or bad- but it’s only ONE of many body types, and women are being pressured to FIT INTO that specific body type. Women should be able to be confident about their appearance no matter what dress size they wear, whether or not they wear makeup, and regardless of their skin color.