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*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc
I see things all the time regarding the “body positive” movement and about fat shaming and skinny shaming and all that. As a woman, as a human, I have struggled with my own self-confidence and self-acceptance pretty much as long as I can remember. There have rarely been times when I feel super confident about how I look and what people think about me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a better grasp on it, but it still haunts me.
Some of you may know that last year I had Gastric Bypass Surgery to help me lose a substantial amount of weight. Since March of 2015 I have lost about 140 pounds and am still trying to lose another 10-15 pounds to get to my goal weight, therefore I feel that I am in a place where I can talk about what it’s like to be overweight and to also be what is considered a “normal” weight and how frustrating it is to see people online mock those who exercise, mock those who don’t, make fun of overweight people, make fun of skinny people, blah, blah, blah. It goes on and on and on.
It’s no wonder that most of us have body image issues, there doesn’t appear to be any one image that appeals to everyone, so you know what I say to that? F*&k it. What society needs to learn, what so many of us need to learn, is that your body is beautiful. Your choices are yours to make, and unless you are self-harming, you are just perfect.
Why Being Body Positive Kind Of Stinks
I’m really tired of seeing meme’s, gifs, videos, etc of women basically shaming other women for how they choose to live their lives. You want to exercise and eat healthy? Great! Good for you! You want to not do either of those things? Great! Good for you! You know why? Because it is YOUR body and therefore, YOUR choice. Our choices define who we are in the world, our choices make us who we are. What other people think of you is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of life and what matters most is that you love yourself. Of course, being 6 feet tall and 90 pounds is not so healthy, so is being 6 feet tall and 500 pounds. Our bodies are made to carry a certain amount of weight and that varies from frame to frame, but if you can move around and feel good and do the things you love to do, then I’m happy for you and I think you’re awesome.
What I don’t think is awesome is men and women who think that being overweight is “disgusting” or “shameful” or, and this is my biggest pet peeve, that if you are overweight you are lazy. Yes, that is sometimes true, there are people who are overweight and they are also lazy, but there are also overweight people who make an effort to eat well, exercise and they still can’t lose weight because they simply aren’t knowledgeable about how to do it correctly or, if you’re like me, you are a food addict. You cannot help yourself because you are ADDICTED to food. Yeah, food addiction isn’t as well known or perhaps as interesting as alcohol or drug addiction, but it can destroy lives. It can kill, and it does kill. It’s serious and needs to be taken seriously.
We need to stop looking at those that are obese and think that they are simply lazy. There’s a lot that goes into that weight gain: genetics, depression, stress, lack of self-esteem, etc. It’s more than just fat, it’s a security blanket that keeps us safe.
When I see women (or men) who are overweight and singing the praises of body positivity I am always torn. On one hand I think, yes! Be proud of who you are! Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t amazing. On the other hand I think, you are overweight and your body does not like that, your joints don’t like that, your internal organs don’t like that. But I am not a doctor, nor am I here to judge your choices.
Honestly, I want people to be proud of who they are. I want people to look in the mirror and think, I love myself. I didn’t feel that way about myself for a VERY long time so I chose surgery. I chose to change my stomach size so that I could eat less, it was a tool in a very big toolkit that has saved my life. I also changed what I ate, how much I exercised and more important than anything else, I changed my relationship with both myself and with food. It’s not the crutch I lean on when I’m sad or stressed. It’s something I have to have in order to nourish this body as well as I am now able to enjoy, to savor the food. Not to just shovel into my face mindlessly.
A Feminist Bikini Body
I recently saw this video posted by Bustle.com and I am confused by it, again, on one hand I see their point, any BODY can be a bikini body, but just what are they saying here?
I watched this video and thought, hmmm, they’re kind of making fun of people who exercise in that they seem to be saying that if you exercise, you are trying to attain the status quo beach body and not the beach body you have. I have to strongly disagree with that. As a person who exercises every day (something I never thought I’d say) I don’t do it because the world thinks I need to look a certain way, I do it because it FEELS GOOD, it makes me feel strong and powerful and sexy and more than anything else, I feel darn proud of myself for being able to run/walk (aka wagging) 7-8 miles a day. It feels good when I lift weights and I can do that extra bicep curl or add more weight. It feels amazing that I can do yoga comfortably now. I didn’t lose weight to please the patriarchal societal ideal of what beauty is, I did it for me, for my health. To have that mocked so openly is frustrating and why I think the body positive movement is so flawed.
Also, why is this specifically “feminist”? Because it’s women? Because it’s supposedly empowering? Labeling something as feminist simply because it seems “radical” is a waste of time in my mind. I don’t go around saying, this is my feminist point of view (with the exception of this blog). I don’t say, “This is a feminist reading a book”, or, “This is the way a feminist takes a pee.” I simply do my thing, and if things get all feminist-y then so be it.
Why do we have to poop on one side of things in order to lift up the other? Why, as humans, do we have to put someone down to make someone else feel better? I say this as someone who is guilty of doing this. I say this as someone who was once 343 pounds and who mocked skinny people, who scoffed at those who could lift weights and jog, because I was sad I couldn’t. I was sad that I was overweight and felt trapped in my own body. Now, I’m not saying these women feel that way, I’m not even saying every overweight person feels that way, I’m saying that we can lift each other up without putting others down. Let’s try that for a change and see what kind of world that brings us to.
You look beautiful today and I hope that you feel good in the skin you are in because it’s amazing and I am quite sure that the brain inside that head is amazing too. You are more than what you look like and you are more than what you think. Those are just parts, you are a whole, complete person with dreams and power and kindness within you. I am proud of that.
Now you go…