Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beauty is Not Exclusive

“Beauty as we feel it is something indescribable; what it is or what it means can never be said.”

                                                                              ― George Santayana

I've been swirling around in my head thinking about what defines beauty, fat acceptance and identity.
Not the easiest topics to define or explore. It's strange to me how you can have one over arching opinion yet not be able to apply it to yourself. Where and why does the disconnect happen?

I believe strongly that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I do not think that thin equals beautiful, I think people can be fat and be beautiful, I think people can have a non-traditional appearance and be absolutely gorgeous. I think beauty is something you react to on an instinctual level and cannot sum up neatly into a preconceived idea or box. I am also pretty sure I am not making this up or faking it. I am a hugely visual person, who tries to pepper my every day with beauty and loves finding it in unlikely places. So when it comes to myself why is it  I cannot help but think in terms of I would be prettier or my appearance would be more valuable if I lost weight. What bums me out here is two things. One that I struggle to separate my own appearance and weight, and two I assign value to it. It's pretty hard not to. It's what been told to me, and what sort of comes at me. If I had a dollar for every time somehow has said to me, but you have such a pretty face I wouldn't be working. If I had a dollar for every time I was told I should lose weight to get a boyfriend, or I would not find a boyfriend overweight I could buy an alpaca farm. These people may not be right, but the message was sent so young to me it's very much instilled in me. Much like I know I have brown hair, eyes that change color, I have to be thin in order to be attractive. Check, check check. When I evaluate myself for a night out, or just a Tuesday morning, it's never just a you look nice, it's a you look nice for what you're working with. There is always this element of the weight being there.

Lately I feel a shift in how I look at others and myself. It's tiny and the shift towards others is a lot bigger then the one towards myself. It feels shocking and rebellious to think that what is directed at us as a standard of beauty is not necessarily true or accurate. Most people if you look hard enough, or they are not total jerks have something beautiful about them. Regardless of that, how you look is not who you are. I think this is way harder to grasp if you are the owner of a vagina. I almost feel like my weight makes me feel less feminine, like I am not holding up my end of the feminine bargain. I should be small waisted, dainty, and able for a man to sweep me up. Any dude who tried would throw his back out, but does that make me any less feminine? I dunno and I really haven't bothered to ask myself. I have just kept the negative and critical rhetoric in my brain on repeat. I think I thought it motivated me and pushed me harder. It doesn't. It keeps me disconnected from myself and constantly chasing who I could be and not who I am.

I was talking to someone recently about some of these things, and fat acceptance. Fat acceptance has been something that truthfully I rolled my eyes at. Part of the reason is because some of the people who voice it get under my skin. I just plain ole don't like them, fat, thin, if they had feathers...not a fan. I think a much bigger reason why I have danced around it is it scares the shit out of me. The idea of accepting myself for who I am right now fat, or thin is really challenging. It also makes me think about where fat fits into my identity. I have always thought of it both as a temporary stop on my life tour, and as a prison sentence. Fat has never not been a part of my descriptors regardless of whether or not I was. I used to never even use the word fat. It was ugly. It felt no matter what like an insult and not just an adjective. It's almost intoxicating this idea of saying fat or thin I am a-okay, the same person, who deserves to be valued the same way. I hope I can start to believe that more then I do now.

If you would like to disappear down this rabbit hole with me I suggest the below links:


  1. What a great post. I loved that bit about being able to apply the concept of inclusive beauty to other people, but not to yourself. Honestly, I think we have just been conditioned that "thin" is the standard, that it's normal. It's been ongoing our entire lives, and we didn't even realize it. I think back to the Disney movies I watched as an impressionable little girl; for example, Pocahontas. Long, silky, perfect hair. Straight, tiny nose. Huge eyes, pouty lips. A waist the circumference of a can of soup and yet a nice full chest and butt. It's been fed to us all our lives, through every movie and television program and commercial we've ever watched. It's been reinforced through ignorance and prejudice.
    Consciously, you can say "of COURSE fuller-figured woman deserve to be loved and to have a great job and lots of friends!" because as a good person, you know that other people's worth has no correlation to their appearance. BUT, we have a hard time applying this to ourselves because we're our own toughest critics.
    And it can take years and lots of critical thinking and challenging of deeply ingrained concepts to undo the damage society did to us mentally. But it's possible. We still have a long way to go as a society, and this is a time of progression and transition for many different movements. We'll get there.

    1. "A waist circumference of a soup can.." I love this so much and so true. I agree though it is possible and we can get there. I guess I worry about society less and myself more at the moment. If I could criticize myself a little less and maybe practice more kindness would be cool. Society....well it will come around in it's own time but what I see happening and evolving is very encouraging and promising.