How I Learned to Love My Body in a Filter-Obsessed World
My body has become a mind game, a prop that I am always trying my very best to work to my advantage. Lunch has always been a time of eyeing how much a skinny friend eats and setting a limit, a time where picking at a bagel is a source of pride. Not a pride of my own body, but a pride of trying. Of justifying. It's okay that I'm fat, because I'm clearly trying my best not to be. It's okay, it's PCOS, it's not my fault, I'm not really fat, not like those other people.
Conversations about bodies—women’s bodies, especially—are filled with explaining, comparing, justifying, apologizing, and promising. If you're overweight, you must always be trying to change that. If you're plus size, it's a monthly expectation to explain that you don't condone obesity. Yes, you eat spinach. Yes, you work out. No, you don't hate skinny people. Yes, you do, in fact, love and respect your body the way it is.
Our filter-obsessed world with its quest to accept only the most perfect of girls doesn't help. The most extreme of it can be found among makeup artists and models, but it exists everywhere. Women are called out and humiliated because of their failure to be thin or even be any person in a way that society deems not quite right. It's okay for a skinny person to mention a bag of chips in a caption to prove she's not anorexic. It's definitely not okay to mention that same bag of chips as an overweight person because that proves she doesn't care, and you're now allowed to voice all those mean things you thought about fat people and couldn't say before but now she deserves it.
You can hide it under a veil of pretending to care about her health, sure. You may even get tons of people to believe you. But once you truly ask yourself, you know you would never be that incessant with "advice" toward that girl who has chronic migraines, or even toward an overweight guy in your class. These constant, critical comparisons help no one. It doesn't matter who's eating the goddamn bag of chips.
I'm tired of all of our society's incessant interrogating. I'm exhausted, honestly. Our bodies are first and foremost that. Ours. We don't owe anyone any explanations or justifications. One woman is not less valuable than another because she doesn't work out on the weekends.
I want you—beautiful, brilliant you—to take a big and terrifying step. Let's not fall back on explanations for our bodies. I am not going to praise myself based on how well I am making others comfortable with my existence. I am going to be myself, unapolagetically. I am going to praise myself for my accomplishments and do the same for the women and girls around me. I am beautiful without an excuse. You are beautiful the way you are, reading this right now.
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By Katie Northacker, 17