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.
By Melissa A. Fabello
Tis the season.
For sales on tanning.
Between proms, the onset of spring, and the promise of summer, the time is now to get ready for swimsuit season. Not only are we expected to lose ten pounds before we don our bikinis, but now out culture demands that we also be tan. Before summer even starts. Because that makes sense. I thought that what a tan in September meant was that you had a good time playing outside at the beach all summer long. Now a tan means – what? – that you can afford to artificially tan before the sun is even bright enough to tan you naturally? What the actual fuck.
Because if there’s one more thing that women need, it’s to feel inferior in yet another realm. And for a girl like me – an Italian, Sicilian girl like me? Whose skin holds yellow undertones, but whose northern Italian ancestral traits beat out her southern ones? Who is subtly picked on all year long for not being dark enough? It’s just another reason for me to roll my eyes.
Because my skin tone doesn’t bother me. My lack of melanin doesn’t make me feel less womanly, and it certainly doesn’t make me feel less Italian. If anything, it’s a lovely reminder (along with my random-ass blue eyes) of my Alps-ian heritage. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
We sat around the table, squinting to see one another through the dim light given off by the flickering candles throughout the restaurant. Everyone was examining their menus, their expressions cheerful at the thought of the meal they’d soon be having. As for me, I sat as still as possible, doing my best not to squirm as waiters buzzed all around me, plates of food whizzing by- tempting me. Taunting me.
“What are you going to eat?” my friend leaned over and whispered in my ear.
I swallowed, cleared my throat and said quietly, ”Um, I’m not.”
This, of course, was his cue to become exasperated with me, sighing and scooting his chair away from mine in irritation. At this dramatic display, his mother who had joined us for dinner looked up, confused.
“Is everything okay?” she asked.
“No,” he said, his voice clipped. “She’s anorexic. She doesn’t eat. Ever.”
I rolled my eyes, his words annoying me. I’d had a tomato that morning. Obviously, I was fine.
His mother studied me for a moment, pressing a napkin against her lips before saying: “She doesn’t have an eating disorder. She’s just a girl. That’s how girls are.”
When I think back on this now, her response disturbs me. It worries me to think that our women are out there starving themselves — and thinking this is okay — because society has made us believe that this is somehow normal. Where the desire to be “thin” is so strong that we trick ourselves into believing that food is the enemy. Thinking that food is something to be feared. When food is what our bodies need to survive. It frightens me that we, as women, are out there literally killing ourselves in exchange for a flat stomach. It worries me when I see women tearing each other down, when we should be building each other up. I want to believe — I have to believe — that eventually we, as a gender, will come to the realization that our body fat percentage and pant size is not a measurement of our self worth. Because, really, if we can’t support and encourage one another, if we can’t help each other realize that we are already beautiful just as we are, then no one will.