So, I want to have a discussion about the well-intentioned love your body stuff that's out there. It's all over tumblr and all over the internet. On Jezebel, we get shades of it as well; the authors will say that you should never want to lose weight for the sake of losing weight; it should be about health and being on a diet is bad. And don't even get me started on those goddamn motherfucking post-its.
(So, I have had a lot of eating disorder issues in the past. And I still do. I don't think I'm a special snowflake at all - most of us deal with deeply embedded body-image issues and you can probably relate. But if this seems especially fucked up, that's where I'm coming from. Also if this shit gets main-paged I will cut someone because I get all personal in the end.)
But back to this love your body rhetoric. Does anyone ever feel like it's ineffective, condescending, and a little insulting? Why are you telling me how I should feel about my body? The implication kind of seems to be that you're a bad feminist and part of the problem if you don't love your body or if you're on a diet. Obviously, it's not anywhere close to what fat-shaming is, but in a sense, it is body policing. I'm not going to fat-shame you or skinny-shame you and I'm certainly not going to tell you not to get an abortion or that you should breastfeed or eat lentils, so please stop trying to dictate the very complicated relationship that I and so many other women and girls have with ourselves.
And then there's the fact that this all is still so body-focused. Can we get some
"love your brain" inspirational messages?
Y’all know that women are inundated with messages every day telling us to how to lose that extra fat, or telling us that whatever skinny actress is fat. Or we get dudes on the street making loud comments about our asses. We have aunts and mothers who ask if we're sure we want to eat all of that. We start internalizing these messages at day one, and you know what? If you really do love your body, and you're immune to this stuff, then congratulations. You are stronger than me and I am truly jealous. But for the rest of us, we're supposed to stick it to the man and just stop it with these years and years of negative thoughts and habits that have built up? How do you even begin to do that?
Well, Margo Maine, PhD, at the National Eating Disorders Association has some helpful tips for you! "Be your body's friend and supporter, not its enemy." Tracy Moore here at Jezebel reminds us that "numbers are misleading" and to ask ourselves "why do I care?" THANKS GUYS.
Anyway, there was an amazing post on tumblr that really articulated a lot of my thoughts on this, that the focus of body acceptance should be on the larger institutions of society rather than the individual.
the fact that “love your body” rhetoric shifts the responsibility for body acceptance over to the individual, and away from communities, institutions, and power, is also problematic. individuals who do not love their bodies, who find their bodies difficult to love, are seen as being part of the problem. the underlying assumption is that if we all loved our bodies just as they are, our fat-shaming, beauty-policing culture would be different. if we don’t love our bodies, we are, in effect, perpetuating normative (read: impossible) beauty standards. if we don’t love our individual bodies, we are at fault for collectively continuing the oppressive and misogynistic culture. if you don’t love your body, you’re not trying hard enough to love it. in this framework, your body is still the paramount focus, and one way or another, you’re failing. it’s too close to the usual body-shaming, self-policing crap, albeit with a few quasi-feminist twists, for comfort. (source)
I did try loving my body, a few times, and it was always followed by an express ride back to eating disorder-ville. I decided at various points that I'd be a cool girl who didn't worry about things like calories or weight or where I could purge. And...it worked, for a little bit. I threw out the scale, wore larger clothes, gained weight, and was fine for a bit. But there was always a tipping point, once when I decided I could handle it, and got on a scale. And then I couldn’t handle it. Once some stranger made some passing comment about how to lose 5 pounds. She thinks I need to lose weight? Well okay then, I'll show her.
I need a small baseline level of self-hatred, to keep it all from coming in at once. I get on the scale every single morning, and I work out every single day because it makes me a lot less obsessive about food. It's what works for me.
So I don't know, how do you guys feel about this? Do you love your body? Did you always, or how did you get there? Do you ever start feeling defensive for not loving your body? Do you think there are serious issues with body positive feminism?