“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 often hear people get antsy when larger people start loving their bodies. “But aren’t we glorifying obesity? Aren’t we encouraging people to be unhealthy?” But here are some of the problems with this mentality:
1.Skinny doesn’t mean healthy. Some thin people just have a fast metabolism, but they don’t work out and eat only junk food. I’ve seen some very thin people who are much less healthy than some larger people I know. Plus, anorexia and other eating disorders are major problems that cause people to be thin. Stress can also cause people to drop a lot of weight, but in a very unhealthy way. My point: You can’t really tell how healthy someone is just based on their size. Extreme obesity is a tougher area, since being so large that they cannot move obviously prevents them from being able to exercise, but even then we’re really in no place to judge.
“Active obese individuals actually have lower morbidity and mortality than normal weight individuals who are sedentary … the health risks of obesity are largely controlled if a person is physically active and physically fit.”
-The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, 2000
At a size 14-16 I am considered a bit overweight, but I can also bike 10 miles in a day. I’m sore as hell and exhausted afterwards because there’s lots of hills on the route I take and I don’t do it often enough, but I can do it. How many people do you know that can (or are willing to) bike 10 miles? I may not be a fitness enthusiast, and yes I could stand to be active more often, but I’m certainly not a couch potato either.
2. Who defines healthy? It’s such a vague category. What if you have a severe medical condition but you eat veggies and exercise, are you still healthy despite your condition? And what if you have no medical conditions, your body works just fine and you are active, but you eat mostly junk food? What defines a healthy individual, what makes one person healthy and the other person unhealthy? It’s based on the individual. What’s healthy for one person may not be healthy for another.
3. Even unhealthy people need to love their bodies. If you’re unhealthy- so what? It doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to love your body as it is! People smoke and drink too much or they use unhealthy crash diets to lose weight, and we don’t shame them like we do larger people. People who exercise or do sports so much that they regularly injure themselves are not really taking care of their bodies either, but we don’t see athletes and fitness enthusiasts being shamed for overdoing it all the time. Also, what about people with medical conditions or disabilities? They may not be very healthy, but they can’t really help it. Are they ugly, should we police their bodies and tell them they can’t love themselves too?
Bottom line: Unless it’s an extreme situation, it’s none of our business if someone is “healthy” or not. And we certainly have no right to tell them that they cannot love their bodies.
If you’re very concerned about your family member or close friend, make sure you address it in a respectful manner, and only if you’re concerned that they are going to cause themselves significant harm. Otherwise, why intrude on their personal lifestyle choices? We all do some unhealthy things; it doesn’t mean it’s ok for other people to judge us for them. There’s a fine line between looking out for the well-being of your loved ones and making unnecessary judgments on their personal choices. You may think soda is liquid poison, but that doesn’t mean you should rail on your friend who loves her Pepsi. And we all know “that person” that gives you a withering look anytime they see you eating processed sugars or carbs. (Really?) However, if your loved one is a raging alcoholic and they’re destroying their life because of it, then that would be an extreme situation and you should probably say something and offer to help. If your loved one has an eating disorder, obviously that’s also an extreme situation that needs immediate attention. But see the difference? Life threatening and severe health risk behavior vs. “I don’t think you should be eating that doughnut because it’ll make you fat!”
4. Eating junk food doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy. “She eats chocolate and drinks soda, she must be sooo unhealthy!” Sure, if you come to my house at certain times of the week, you’d think I binge on junk food all the time- because sometimes I certainly do! Especially during Netflix marathons. 😉 But what you don’t see are the super healthy fruit and kale and protein powder smoothies I try to have every morning, which are packed with nutrients and protein. You don’t see me adding extra veggies and fresh meat to boxed meals when I’m in too much of a hurry to make homemade, or the countless homemade healthy meals I prepare in my slow cooker. You don’t see my entire eating routine, so it’s easy to judge me based on the few things you do see. Bottom line: Don’t assume someone doesn’t eat healthy just because you see them eating a burger or some junk food. It’s the whole picture of their diet that’s important. (And it’s not your place to judge anyways!)
We all deserve to love our bodies.
Thin people are allowed to love their bodies whether they are healthy or not. Their bodies are praised as beautiful on glossy magazine covers even if the model has an eating disorder or starves herself to fit into her clothes. Health is obviously not a concern in many cases where skinny bodies are glorified. So why can’t larger people love themselves as they are too? The double standard is frustrating and unfair. We have to stop making it our business to judge other people’s bodies, and stop making them feel like they can’t love themselves just as they are. We don’t live in their bodies; they do. And you don’t live in my body. I cherish my body; I take good care of it, even if I don’t fit your narrow idea of what my “healthy body” should look like on the outside.
If your friend or loved one wants to get more active or change their eating habits, then by all means be there for them and support them. I’m not saying that we should not work out or improve our eating habits; improving our health is a wonderful goal that I personally ascribe to. I’m just saying that we need to stop assuming that skinny means healthy, fat means unhealthy, and that unhealthy means we’re not allowed to love ourselves.
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. 🙂
* Roe vs Wade has saved countless women’s lives by making abortion legal, which allows us to regulate it for safety and trained physicians to perform the procedure in a sterile office rather than medical school dropouts hacking at a woman’s womb in a back alley somewhere (not really an exaggeration!)
* Abortion levels are decreasing significantly, thanks to better sex education and easily accessible contraception.
* Making it illegal doesn’t stop women from getting abortions, it just puts their lives and health in danger. Roe vs Wade did not make women have more abortions, it just made them safe and now women don’t have to resort to criminal activity.
* Medical health organizations have repeatedly shown abortion to be safe and a vital aspect of women’s healthcare; politicians opposing abortion are doing so against the advice of medical professionals who actually work in this field.
So why are they wasting our tax dollars and valuable time fighting abortion rights?
If you believe abortion is wrong, don’t get one. It’s as simple as that. You can be pro choice and still be personally opposed to abortion. Being pro choice just means you understand it’s not your place to make health care decisions for someone else; you decide for you, they decide for them.
It boggles my mind when I hear some of the common arguments against birth control and abortion, mainly because the US is such a bad place to be a mother if you are not among the wealthy middle class or higher (see the article). If you fall anywhere near or below the poverty line, it’s very hard to retain your job, financial stability, and even get health coverage.
These are some of the most common anti-reproductive choice arguments that are reflected repeatedly in public sentiment and sometimes even in US law:
“Birth control is like abortion and/or unhealthy, so you shouldn’t use it.” Both are largely untrue, and yet these arguments are still being used every single day to pressure women into not being able to effectively plan their families. There are many different birth control methods; it’s important to research them and choose the best and healthiest option for you specifically (for example, I use a low-hormone method). Telling women it’s all bad is deceitful and harmful.
“If you’re having sex, you should be ready to have a baby.” This is incredibly judgmental and unrealistic. Sex is not just for procreation, it’s also for intimacy and pleasure; hence infertile and elderly couples still enjoy it. Having sex is NOT a contract for a woman to have a baby. Some women don’t want kids or just can’t afford them; should they be forced to live like nuns? I have sex because I love my husband, not because we want kids.
“A baby is a blessing.” To some people having a baby IS a great blessing- to others, becoming pregnant is a very stressful, scary experience, especially if they lose their job and their home because of finances. Having a child is a HUGE responsibility- one that should never be forced on anyone. Even if they intend to give the baby up for adoption, they still have to go through the incredibly difficult pregnancy and birth ordeal. And given the appalling rising stats of mother mortality rates in the USA, women should choose carefully.
“Abortion is murder so it should be illegal.” That’s personal opinion- every women needs to make her own decision in this matter. This is a huge can of worms that I’ve discussed many times before, so I won’t be debating the morality of abortion in this blog’s comments.
“Abortion should never be used as birth control.” Abortions are much less pleasant than using birth control. If you talk to women that get abortions, you’ll find that “using it as a form of birth control” isn’t usually how most of them would describe it. This makes it sound like most women are purposefully not using other contraception methods and then use abortion regularly in place of contraception.
We live in a culture where women are not taught proper sex education in many states (some states had to be legally required to even discuss the basics of contraception and they still insist on teaching it improperly), they constantly hear that birth control is dangerous (hormonal) or immoral (all methods) from very vocal anti-birth control groups, and even getting birth control is hard for many low-income women or undocumented women. So it’s no wonder why the US has such a high rate of teen and unwanted pregnancies- women and teen girls hear conflicting information and misinformation every day, and they are not always aware of safe sexual practices. But even if they were aware- birth control and condoms do occasionally fail (especially if they don’t use them 100% correctly due to shoddy sex education), get forgotten that one time, they may have been raped or felt pressured into having sex to fit in, their situation changed for the worse after getting pregnant, etc. And you know what? Sometimes smart women just get pregnant and they don’t want to have a baby. And that’s ok. Again, having sex is not a contract to become pregnant.
Oh, you had a baby you can’t afford? Why didn’t you use birth control or keep your legs closed if you couldn’t afford to have kids right now? The “logic” behind this is baffling and frustrating. Low-income women who have kids are demonized regularly by the media and by individuals. They are considered leeches on the system if they draw welfare/food stamps or their kids need school lunches, called bad parents if they can’t provide for their children, and are called bad parents if they weren’t ready to have kids and it now shows in their lack of parenting skills. They can’t win!
I have talked to a LOT of people about this issue, and I’ve significantly toned down the way that many of these points are often made… words like “slut”, “whore”, “leecher”, “bitch who couldn’t keep her legs closed”, and other demeaning descriptions are unfortunately all too common when referring to women who make reproductive choices that these judgmental people don’t agree with.
If you got the makeover of your dreams, would you actually like the results? These ladies didn’t.
I really like this article. I have been very torn about the hijab. One the one hand, I believe it’s wrong to discriminate against someone’s choice of dress or religion. But on the other hand, most women don’t really choose this. If someone wants to wear a hijab, that’s great- I have no problem with that. But the majority of women who wear the hijab do so because they have to, or because they have been raised to believe that they must. When your family will shun you or you can get beat up for not wearing it, or when your religion promises negative consequences, or when you feel like less of a person for not wearing it, then there’s not really a choice- even if you convince yourself that you want to wear it.
I know it’s not exactly the same thing, but I once convinced myself that I liked clothing standards that I actually didn’t like very much too. The Bible college I went to was very conservative- skirts that covered the knee completely and tights to every class and church service, high necklines and nothing tight, no dangly earrings or flashy jewelry, no watching movies unless expressly approved by the staff (they only approved Christian films), etc. At the time, I convinced myself that I really didn’t mind the rules. They were for my own good, they made me a more modest person, I liked them. But I didn’t like them. I love dangly earrings and big jewelry! I loved them before college, and after college I rediscovered my love for them. Back then I would catch myself drooling over clothes that I could never wear there and lamenting because modifying it to be modest enough would have ruined the look. When the formal banquet came around, we had to do a modesty “hallelujah” test- we raised our arms above our heads, and if our armpits or shoulders were showing, we had to wear something else or modify our shawl placement. Many girls wore tee-shirts under their beautiful dresses or sweaters over them in order to meet this very strict standard. It looked friggin’ awful half the time if you couldn’t find an appropriate and stylish shrug and a prom dress with a high enough neckline. Some girls were able to make it look good, but most of the time the beauty of the dress was just lost.
In my particular case, and I think for many other girls I knew there, I believe this was a coping mechanism. In order for me to reconcile with my beliefs, I had to convince myself that I agreed with the rules, throwing out my ability to choose for myself. I told myself I dressed modestly because I wanted to- but that wasn’t really true. Not when I was truly honest with myself, which was very hard to do back then. I dressed modestly because I had to, because it’s what the other people in my faith did in that setting, because I was taught that I was “more spiritual” if I dressed that way. I fit in when I looked that way.
Of course I cannot say that all Muslim women are in the same position I was, everyone is different and their culture is vastly different- but in the few instances I’ve seen where they defend their love of the hijab, I see a similar reaction in them that I once had, except in this case it’s much bigger and more dangerous.
Women should never be oppressed, whether they choose to wear a hijab or not. I would NEVER support forcing a women to not wear one- but I would also highly support any programs that helped to give women a CHOICE. I am torn about the commercial featuring the hijab as a form of diversity- I honestly don’t know what I think. Women who wear hijabs in the US are often bullied for it, so in that regard I am glad to see diversity shown in a public way. But it is more often than not a sign of sexist oppression… should that be glorified in the name of diversity? I don’t know. But I do think this article opens dialogue that needs to be started. If you haven’t read it yet, please see the link above before commenting.