Monday, 29 November 2010

Is Body Love missing the point?

I was called by a journalist last week to contribute to a debate article they are running in their magazine in January. It’s called ‘Is body love missing the point?’. The person who was arguing that body love, whatever that means to her, is indeed missing the point, thinks that we should simply ignore how our bodies look and focus instead on what they do for us. She thinks (and I do apologise if I have misunderstood her point of view, since of course I am relying on what the journalist who interviewed me told me that she thinks…) anyway, she thinks that focusing our attention on how we look is missing the point. She says that we should value ourselves for the work we do, for the power of our minds, for the things our bodies do, like sports or walking, running, carrying...for the things we do as women that have nothing to do with how we look. She thinks that having bigger models on the catwalk is just creating another body size/type to aspire to which millions of women will fall short of which will just leave them feeling that they are not good enough, again.

 Focusing on body image and how we look, she thinks, is missing the point about how we value ourselves and that we should ignore it. I was asked to present the opposite view. Well, it’s not that I don’t agree with many of my opponent’s (opponent only in this debate of course!) views. I absolutely agree that as women we should value ourselves and be valued by others for who we are rather than how we look. I absolutely agree that we are missing the point if we think self worth can come from looking good and being thin or indeed from any body size, whatever the current fashion. I I fervently believe that women should be celebrated and valued for the work they do, whether it is paid employment or parenting and I feel angry when I see women objectified and objectifying themselves.

And I also think our bodies are a part of who we are, I do not think it’s appropriate or healthy to ignore our bodies, to give up caring about how we look, to focus solely on our minds and our spirits. The way we look, the way we dress, the way we care for ourselves physically is important, it’s is not the most important thing about us, but whether we are talking about women or people in general, being healthy, fit and enjoying our bodies (in all sorts of ways!!) is part of being human. The way we dress and the way we hold and shape our bodies is a very important part of how we communicate with each other and with the world. Our bodies speak in so many ways.

Do I think it is helpful to have larger models on the catwalk, YES! Do I think that it sends out a message that beauty is in all of us, at any size, YES! Would I love to see top designers creating clothes for women who are a size 14, 16, 18 and beyond (actually, do they even design for size 10's and 12's these days?). Why should beautiful, carefully designed clothes be only for tall, slender women? YES, YES, YES! The clothes that are made for the tiny models that grace the catwalk today just look wrong on me - I have lumps and bumps, where they are straight and flat and I’m quite simply far bigger than they are! Would I like to see women of all sizes celebrated? YES! And I think it’s OK to pay attention to how we dress and how we look, it is part of caring for ourselves and that’s what makes us feel good. It is also one outlet for self expression, for expressing our creativity, colour, style and beauty.

Body love, when it means feeling good about the way we look, without having to follow fashion either in size or style, when it means taking pleasure and having fun with fabrics, textures and colours and styles, when it means feeling comfortable looking in the mirror, when it means living in the body we have without restrain or shame, when it means valuing ourselves for all of who we are including how we look as a part of the whole, is most definitely NOT missing the point! Join the debate. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. We all care about the way our house looks. Well, most of us!
    We clean it, we air it, and we decorate it nicely to the best of our abilities. When we can, we even improve it!
    Many see their bodies as the houses they live in. And many want to "keep up with the joneses" with their bodies just as much (or moreso) as they want to with their homes.
    I think the key is, as you say, to focus on what body love truly is: acceptance of who we are, as a whole, and of what we have, and treat our bodies with care and love. There is always room for improvements like a nice flattering haircut, makeup that brings out the beauty of our faces (if you do makeup, I don't!), clothes that flatter our figures, etc....
    Our bodies are the first part of us that most people get to know. I thik we can help our bodies represent us well, or not. Loving our bodies includes wanting them to look and function their best, too.

    Clear as mud? :-)


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