Every year for the past few years I shoot lingerie for Valentine’s Day (here and here). Lot’s of plus size bloggers do it. I’m not special in that regard. This year as I was styling looks to shoot I felt really bad anxiety. I was standing in line at a discount store about to buy a bra for the shoot and I got overwhelmed. It was a sudden wave of questions like “Will my readers think that I am vain? Do I really need to do this again? I mean hell, it’s not like my body is any smaller or better than it was last year. Also, explaining why I am on the internet in my underwear again it’s not the easiest conversation to have with my family.
I called my best friend to get her perspective and hopefully laugh off my near panic attack at our favorite rag bin. I asked her, “should I quit doing this?” She laughed at me for a few minutes because she’s used to my quarterly breakdowns. After she got out her giggles she said, “No, I actually think we all look forward to it. It gives us all hope.”
I calmed down and thought, hope? Hope for what?
Is lack of hope keeping women afraid of themselves and their bodies? It surely was making me sweat at the thought that someone would be perceiving me as overly confident. Let’s keep it real, I’m no Instagram model, but the reality is that lot’s of women have bodies that are very much like mine. As a person who lives in the real world of office potlucks, stress eating, post-pregnancy bodies…do I really need to go on? We can pretty much recognize what society deems a display body and what bodies need to be “flattered”.
The body positive movement is diligently providing a voice for women with real bodies. Ironically when I have conversations in small circles of real women I don’t always feel like it’s fully embraced by the women who are supposed to be inspired by it. When I check out my ultra fly and confident blogger boo’s Instagram posts, the comments sections are filled with horrible body shaming comments from women who look very much like them. Do these women lack the hope? Are our bodies unworthy of love and positivity before we get to the perfect goal weight? Or if they are worthy of optimism should we cloak our “before” bodies in shame before revealing a happy “after” photo with mass appeal? I can’t pretend like I’ve never been in a conversation where something cruel was said about a woman’s less than perfect body.
No one is perfect. We all say things and have opinions and biases. I think a woman who is uncomfortable with herself is quicker to shame a woman who has features that remind her of her own. It’s her way of expressing frustration. How dare you celebrate what I am so ashamed to have. I think there needs to be checks and balances and to bring a common space and bridge the gap between women who are comfortable and those who are still trying to figure out where they are with their confidence journey.
My body is not a weed and cannot be plucked from the garden of life and neither is anyone else’s. We all need enough space to dance to the rhythm of our own individuality. There’s room for tattoos, stretch marks, cellulite, scars, and my size 16 ass. We all want to be free from judgment from ourselves and others. I don’t know what made me anxious and double over in fear next to the $1.99 pantyhose while waiting for the next available cashier but if my body is giving someone hope to one day be comfortable with themselves I must be doing something right.