I have a flaw in my feminism. I’m working on it.
I’ve been making my way through Roxane Gay’s AMAZING book Bad Feminist, which you should go out and read ASAP. As Gay talks about her own experiences, the flaws in our looks-obsessed and patriarchal society, I’ve been trying to come to terms with my own biggest flaw as a feminist.
After struggling with my weight for my whole adolescence (and, let’s be real, still struggling a little – my relationship with my physical form will always be at least a minor battle), then losing quite a lot of weight through calorie counting and Jillian Michaels tapes; which leave you with some CRAZY messed up ideas about beauty, then realizing what a toll those standards were taking on my mental health and outlook on the world and other women on my life … I FINALLY (with a LOT of effort) reached some version of body acceptance. This battle, though, has left my staunchly, unapologetically feminist self with one little blip.
I have ingrained VERY deep in me the weight loss culture and traditional societal expectations of what “healthy” is and how to be desireable. They’re bullshit. I’m fully aware of it.
And yet I occasionally make “she’s so skinny you’d never think she eats a donut!” jokes – they’re nervous ticks, really, at this point. Empty words I say in conversation that I know don’t add anything, things I don’t really believe in. I know size is no way to judge a person’s diet, fitness, or health. I know that perfectly healthy people eat donuts.
I do these things WAY less than I did when I first started successfully losing weight; far less than I did when I finally started getting help to bring myself out of my messed up body image crap and accept and love my natural body type that came when I exercised regularly and ate a balanced diet. They come up once every few months. But when I say these things, they bother me for WEEKS.
I don’t believe them. So why do I say them?
I’ve already decided that every time I make one of these comments, I’m going to give $5 to SPARK. They do amazing things to promote healthy body image and healthy sexuality. But I call attention to my flaw because I think that everyone can relate to it. One of the biggest hurdles to self-love is how ingrained these ideas are in us. I don’t have an answer of how to fix them – but at the bare minimum, we all need to be more aware of them, call out media which uses them, and tell them: we are not. buying it.