This month's theme for the Feminist Fashion Bloggers network is youth and aging. Check out the round up of posts here. This post is also part of the 2011 Love Your Body Day Blog Carnival.
For this month's FFB post and in honor of Love Your Body Day, I wrote a letter to my body. Though I certainly harbored many more body image issues as a teen, I would be lying if I said that as a young adult all of these insecurities have been magically resolved. As it turns out, feminists, regardless of our age, are not immune to our society's body fascism. We are still socialized and immersed in this culture, and though we often consciously resist the forces that encourages us to strive for a narrow image of feminine perfection, remaining body positive is a struggle. It occurred to me that for all of the time I spend on my appearance through my love of fashion and cosmetics, I still often neglect my body. I get so consumed with the trappings and accessories and products that I use to decorate my body that I forget to appreciate my body for what it is. This is a first step in getting back in touch with my body in order to cultivate a positive self-image and loving relationship with my self.
You must think I'm a bit of a hypocrite, huh? Feminism this, love your body that, blah blah blah. Is that what I sound like? I know we haven't exactly been on speaking terms for a while, but I want to make amends. Besides...we are kinda stuck with each other for a while. Remember when I was little? I wasn't afraid of you then, wasn't ashamed of you. What happened? I grew up. I grew up, and suddenly thousands of fingers were poking and prodding me, thousands of eyes judging me. I lost you in a whirlwind of airbrushed images, diet pills, waif-like models, infantalizing pictures of women, cruel classmates, calorie counting, trickster mirrors. And since then, I haven't always been so nice to you. I've ignored you, yet I've paid excruciating attention to your flaws. I've pushed and pulled, cut and carved you, tried to make you something you're not. I've starved you, beat you, cursed you, abandoned you. At times, I have been outright disgusted by you. Over the years, however, I have grown tired of hating you. It has sapped me of too much time, too much money, too much emotional, physical, and spiritual effort. Will and force were not enough to change you, so I figured I might as well invest my energies into learning to live with you. There is something I've been meaning to say to you for a long time. I'm sorry. I am so sorry. You have tolerated all the abuse I have put you through: the loathing, the neglect, the unrealistic expectations, the drastic measures to change you. Despite it all, you still serve me well. Because of you, I have powerful legs that carry me through the day, a heart that keep me living and loving, a brain that is eager to learn, and an ass that looks damn fine in a pair of jeans. I am still discovering your power of your limbs, the beauty of your curves. So why don't we give it another shot? What do you say...can we be friends again?
We live in a cultural climate that actively discourages women from loving their bodies. Beauty, fashion, and plastic surgery industries create (in part) and cash in on our insecurities. Moreover, systemic inequalities are naturalized and normalized when those who are oppressed become complicit participants in the very institutions and ideologies that subjugate them. Thus, loving yourself is an intensely political act. Loving yourself is an important form of activism and resistance. I encourage everyone to say 'thanks' to your body today in whatever way is meaningful for you, whether that is writing a letter or reconciliation to your body, taking a bubble bath, doing some yoga, indulging in some ice cream, or whatever else.