By Alicia Dillon
For three years, I performed in a burlesque group. It was the time of my freakin’ life. I always bounced between insecurity and a desire to take the stage, and burlesque was the perfect avenue to use that desire and kick my insecurity right in the ass. You see, I was always chubby, and I never grew breasts. These two factors led me to believe my body was the opposite of sexy. I loved to watch burlesque; I was enamored with the extreme, retro, femme-y glamour, the vaudvillian performance aspects, and the bare ladyflesh that matched my preferences in a way mainstream media never would. I was thrilled when a burlesque troupe sprung up on campus. Granted, I was too terrified to audition, and I came in through the back door. I emceed my first show, proving to the troupe and myself that I could hack it onstage.
I flipped the light switch, entered the bathroom, and took a look at myself in the mirror. My hair perfectly curled, my eyes painted with a pretty pink shadow, my lips slicked with a cupcake-flavored gloss. I turned around and twisted the handle to the shower, the hot water rushing out, as steam lifted and filled the cool evening air. The moment I stepped into the water, my curls disappeared without trace, and as I lifted my hands to wash my face, my makeup vanished as well. As I stepped out of the shower looking at myself in the steamy mirror, my face bare, my hair dripping and unfixed, I reran the words my friend had spoken to me earlier that day. “I’m just not pretty without makeup. I just—I need it,” she confessed. “You always wear makeup. I know you know what I mean.”
By Emily Smith
It’s officially summer – time for lounging on the beautiful white sandy beaches for the better part of the day and contentedly sleeping away the rest. But, because I live in a place where people go to vacation, and ultimately show off their exhaustingly worked-for bikini bodies, simply going to the beach can be more or less intimidating for anyone without a Photoshop-esque body.
In order to compete, Cosmo and its sister magazines promise, follow one simple creed: skinny is good and fat is bad.
By Sukriti K. Dabral
The other day, I overheard a friend of mine describe her experience of trying on a bridesmaid’s dress. Measured some time ago, she went back with the other girls to pick up their new gowns. Holding it up in the shop, she had a feeling it wasn’t going to fit, and so to avoid the humiliation, she waited until she got home to try it on. As she’d predicted, the dress didn’t fit her. And as she’d predicted, she felt humiliated. “It was disgraceful! It was, seriously, just disgusting,” I hear her exclaim, notes of true shame and anguish in her usually bold voice.
By Arielle Lee Blair
Guest Contributor (blog)
From the beginning — from the start of my descent into an eating disordered life — I’ve always known I wanted to stop. I didn’t want to have an eating disorder any more than one wants to have any other disease. I knew it was unhealthy, and I knew I needed help. Before I told anyone about my struggles, before I was confronted, and before I had even come to terms with my issues, I went to see a counselor. I remember making the appointment; it all seemed so surreal.
I am fat.
I have identified as such for a long time, and when I say it, it’s not an insult, but rather, a descriptor. When I say I am fat, I say it almost lovingly, despite the issues I still regularly have with my body.
However, a lot of people have the wrong impression of what it entitles to have me use it for myself.
It is a strange society that we live in. We are constantly bombarded with sex in the media. Sex sells. Sexy images, messages, movies, and commercials — sex is everywhere. And it’s not just sex that’s everywhere — it’s sexy women. Half-naked women splashed across bus ads. Women with their heads tipped back and giant breasts thrust out stretched along billboards. Undeniably beautiful (and undeniably Photoshopped) women flashing their concave stomachs strewn across glossy magazine pages. It would appear that sex and women go hand-in-hand. At least according to the media. But here’s the mismatch: they don’t.
This is a picture that I took about a year ago. ToughxCookies was running a photo contest called ‘Flaws,’ where readers were encouraged to send pictures of the parts of their bodies that they hated the most. The response, honestly, was overwhelming, and the bravery of the women who submitted was awe-inspiring. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
By Lindsey Cain
Let’s preface. Everyone has a body. A gendered body, a sized body, a raced body, an able or challenged body. In the very literal sense, I have a body — a white, female, overweight body. My relationship with the vessel that motors me around has never been intimate, never celebratory or mutually appreciated. It’s been comical. It’s been protective. Its false sense of bravado has for years convinced me of its strength and impenetrability.
This philosophy isn’t cutting it anymore.
Venus Anadyomene, the goddess rising. “Anadyomene” refers to a pose of the goddess Venus in classical art; specifically, when she is rising out of the sea foam. The goddess of love and beauty was born a fully-grown woman out of the waves. She was deprived of a childhood, always being described as fully adult and ready for action. Yet what is never depicted is the celestial agony that preceded her birth, namely the castration of Uranus. So, that pretty white sea foam turns out to be the spilled seed of Uranus. What a backwards way to be born, not to mention messy. But it’s interesting that love and beauty are attended by male mutilation and the downfall of a patriarchal figure.