Before you begin, readers, I want you to know that I do discuss sex, namely sexual attraction, in brief. So, if you are someone who does not find even the briefest mention of sex comfortable, I think you might prefer not to read this entry. I will not be offended in the slightest and I hope you have an enjoyable day wherever you are.
For the rest of you… read on…
Originally, when I was planning out this entry, yesterday, I had a different idea for my Sunday BayArt blog entry. As I pulled my Jeep into the driveway, I saw my neighbor, and she changed my idea for my BayArt topic of the week.
You see, when I pulled in, she was walking in from her car in nothing more than an orange sports bra and a pair of shorts. For the record, it was more than hot and humid enough to justify the outfit.
Now, this neighbor isn’t large, but she is big enough that I think people would make comments about her “not covering up.” Like she should be ashamed of having a human body that doesn’t fit the “beauty standards.”
When I saw her, I thought she looked beautiful. Her skin looked nice, her hair pulled back in a haphazard bun, and she walked like she owned that body. Because she does. It’s hers to showcase as she pleases. She has no one to please but herself. And forget anyone who has a problem with the way she looks.
And I admired it. I didn’t feel disgusted or revolted by the idea that she wanted to break this “social norm” of covering up your “flawed” body.
That’s what I want to talk about, and I think this is the perfect platform to discuss it: Body confidence.
People talk about body shaming and discuss the health implications of being “obese” or “overweight.” Yet, I know people who weigh at least 50 to 60 pounds less than me… and while they may be able to rock the bikini, I can run circles around them. Well, at least jog circles that they cannot.
If you were to put us in fitness tests, I would outscore them. But, I am, numerically speaking, still almost as obese as I was when my waist was 2 inches wider. Yes, obese.
People would shame me for wearing a less than a modest bikini. Hell, people would shame me for wearing more form-fitting clothes. Even if I have a physical capability that doesn’t really fit the expectations of an obese person.
There’s this cultural mindset that certain appearance markers are “sexy.” If you look at the binary gender aspect of culture, it says men and women are both supposed to look a certain way.
Men, toned arms… that “V” that I jokingly call the “sex arrow.” (You know, because basically, it is going, “Hey, if you filled in this section, you’ll get a triangle that points right at my penis.”) Not all cisgendered, heterosexual women love this (I actually seem to have a thing for at least slightly chubby men with beards), but I think society tells you otherwise with the swooning over the likes of David Beckham or Bradley Cooper.
Women, it’s the Kardashian booty, the Michelle Obama arms, the Britney Spears stomach (seriously, the woman must workout 5 hours a day to have such beautiful abs after 2 kids). And, honestly, if you talk to cisgendered, heterosexual men, they will also tell you that there’s a diversity in what they find attractive as well.
I mention cisgendered because I am cisgendered and heterosexual, which means I have a better idea of how that situation works.
But these things make us think that our bodies aren’t “right.” Because we don’t have a Kardashian booty, or a Beckham torso. Hell, maybe we don’t identify with the stereotypical male or female appearances at all.
We are taught that if we don’t fit in the neat little boxes, then we are “othered” and need to peacefully hide in the background while the box checkers get to be validated by society. And that’s the mindset that kills body confidence.
There’s an Ashley Graham video that I’ve seen a few times where she talks about the way she gives herself body confidence. How she is her own role model and gives herself the validation that society won’t. It is great advice, and it is so hard to do.
Society, as a whole, has a really hard time with change. Paradigm shifts take a long time, and by the time society catches up, another group gets “othered” in the process.
Maybe the only way to get beyond this is to unlink the idea of sexuality and bodies. That sexual attraction is more than just seeing someone’s naked body and judging it based on the societal constructs that likely shaped your own ideas in some way, shape, or form.
So body confidence is challenged by society. My neighbor has the right idea. Figure out how to own your body and not let the hate make you feel inadequate.
Like always, if you want to check out my personal blog, head on over to kelseytell.wordpress.com to read “Adventures of a Recovering Pessimist.” I do the swearing and the talking and stuff like that.
I’ll see you next Sunday, BayArt.