I broke up with my first boyfriend when I was 12 because he teased me by saying I was fat. When I was 13, my stepmom looked at me and said, “you unfortunately were born with your father’s legs”. A few weeks later, at the height of Spice Girls culture, I asked my mom for a pair of platform sneakers to wear for my first day at high school, she said to me, “those really look best on girls with slim legs.” And so began my obsession with slimness.
Between the ages of 14 and 15 I dropped 65 pounds by going to the YMCA *literally* every day for a year and restricted my diet to less than 1,000 calories. I disappeared into a pant size less than zero and thought I had achieved something great until I saw a picture of myself one day, looking colourless and washed out, and decided that being classically pretty — with pink cheeks and skin that screamed “I’m alive!” — was better than being thin. I started eating again and grew into my normal body.
Still, it wasn’t until nearly 20 years later that I stopped trying to hide my thighs and butt and genuinely fell in love with them — and kind of started showing them off. I have Instagram (and Instagram alone) to thank, and women like Iskra and Paloma Elsesser and Nadia Aboulhosn for normalizing thigh size with constant reinforcement on my feed. If you asked the 15-year old me if I would, one day, publish a bikini shot that emphasized my thighs, and actually made them look bigger than they were, I would have punched you in the face.
Being a thick woman isn’t just normal now, it’s cool.
- Rihanna has put on weight and doesn’t give one fuck, which is why she shut everyone talking about her body down with one incredible Gucci Mane meme.
- Refinery29 has just written that the new body positivity is really “body neutrality” which, essentially, means having any body type in the world and feeling fine about it, and not even talking about it. “To get out there and live your life — whether your body is an ally or an albatross — is all that really matters.”
- Comic book author Rainbow Rowell is writing chubby representation into the young adult genre by bringing back Marvel’s Runaways comic.
- Soft and brawny men have a place at the soft and curvy table
- Global brands like Nike, Puma x ASOS and Torrid are producing cool-as-fuck fitness clothes for all bodies now whereas, in the past, they wouldn’t even try to accommodate a full range of physiques — not even close.
- To that last point, I remember a good friend of mine in high school — who went on exchange to France in Grade 11 and gained about 20 pounds due to excessive pain au chocolats — had no choice but to shop at Laura+ as it was the only store that had size 14 clothes. Her personal style flew out the window when her options whittled down to empire waist, wide-strap long dresses reminiscent of the Amish dress code for women. The year was 2000, only 16 years ago.
For so many women who sit on the mature end of our Millennial generation, it feels unfathomable that body shaming has jumped the shark and the script on size has been flipped entirely.
Being chubby isn’t cool because it’s trendy on Instagram. Being chubby is cheekily synonymous with ‘being your own size’, which has always been cool, but now we’re acting on it unapologetically. Social media has performed as a mirror we’ve turned on ourselves and we can’t hide from our reflections — actually, we don’t want hide from our reflections anymore.
By way of seeing every body size on social platforms, so frequently, we just moved past feeling like shit about ourselves. The experience of living life with our bodies as they were (are) normalized with social media, and we realized how much better it felt than shaming the fuck out of ourselves. Life is happier when you’re happily yourself.
The flipped script on body positivity reads “be cool with not being perfect”.
It’s unrealistic and inhuman to be die-hard body positive and in love with yourself every day of your entire life. Thankfully, the body positive narrative has shifted from being “be body positive all the time, make sure you love yourself” to “just live your life according to your own compass, it’s not going to be perfect all the time and that’s human.”
It’s also more likeable.
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