A couple weeks ago, I was honored to be featured on the official Urban Outfitters Instagram. Excited by the love and fierce encouragement I was receiving from friends, family, and followers, I couldn’t help but sift through the comments that were making their way across the image. As expected, any image receives some backlash, especially one that 7.4 million people can see.
As I scrolled through, I came across comments like, “Bitch ain’t got no ass,” and “I’d be fucking mad if I had that ass.” I scrolled and re-read, scrolled and re-read — something no one should ever do after finding a negative comment. This domino affect created a downward spiral of emotion that burned a fire inside of me. Although I expected it, it still stung knowing that an image meant to share a love of pop culture and music on vinyl, turned out to be a platform for people to shame the female body, not to mention, cyber bully. I felt disappointed, and to be honest with you, a little degraded.
Society has opened the door to the idea that women are sexualized beings with a standard of idealized beauty to uphold. The ideal body of a woman is completely unattainable, a false perception, and frankly a lie. A human construct based off of one woman, one image, and one body, that has created a preconceived physical identity for every woman. And to tell you the truth, this fantasized body that came from someone’s imagination, has probably never physically existed in reality.
I am angered and saddened by this societal norm, not for myself, but for other women. I am angry for every other woman and every other girl fighting this perception of beauty — For the seventeen year olds who are suffering from eating disorders because they are told their bodies aren’t good enough. For the curvy, voluptuous women who are labeled and placed in the mold of “plus size” because someone decided their curves aren’t “normal.” For the women who battle depression and anxiety disorders because they feel worthless and ashamed of what they look like.
We’ve all had enough of this.
Body shaming is never ok, no matter how curvy, slender, tall, short, or tan we are. We rarely know someone’s story, and what role their body plays in it. Many women have no control over what their bodies look like due to genetics, health conditions, traumas, pregnancies, eating and neurological disorders — but that’s beside the point. The point is, it really doesn’t matter. Kindness, compassion, and spirit ALWAYS take precedence over physical appearance.
Women are warriors, and we deserve to celebrate each other.
We are not objects of criticism and conformity, we will not change simply because we are told to. We are not objects of sex and desire, undressed at the will of someone else’s needs and cravings. We are not dolls that live without voice, poked and prodded, and rearranged at the entertainment of someone else. We are not too thin, too curvy, too tall, too short, too dark, too light, too this, or too that.
Our bodies bare living creatures and our stretch marks are our tiger stripes, proof of our strength. Our mouths speak words of love and nurture, proof of our kindness and generous nature. Our minds create projects of passion, proof of our intelligence, creativity, and wit. This, deserves celebration.
For the girl who doesn’t believe she is good enough, I am writing this to you.
I am writing this to the girl in high school who was told her hair was too curly and she should straighten it more often; her butt was too flat and she should work out more often to make it stand out; her arms were too hairy and that group of guys over there would like her better if she shaved them.
I am writing this to the girl who straightened her hair, shaved her arms, obsessively worked out, cut her portions in half, and actually considered the pros and cons of bulimia.
I am writing this to the girl who didn’t know she had a choice to ignore these criticisms; the girl who didn’t know she would find a tribe of human beings who would lift her up and remind her she’s beautiful because of WHO she is, not what she looks like. I am writing this to the girl who didn’t know she would find a love that wouldn’t put her in a box of labels and expectations of any kind. I am writing this to the girl who didn’t know she would find her own freedom and drive to evolve as a woman and pursue her life boldly.
I am writing this to one woman and every woman. There are thousands of beauties, and we are all of them.