There is an amazing amount of work going on right now to promote positive body image. The Militant Baker, The Body Is Not An Apology, Beauty Redefined, and About-Face have all come up with pretty awesome campaigns inspiring women to love their bodies just the way they are.
The goal is to show a variety of body types in order to create empathy for all bodies, improving self-esteem, health, and relationships with ourselves and others.
However, there is a popular trend in this movement in which I don’t plan to participate: Nudity! Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s important to see a variety of body sizes, shapes, colors, abilities, etc… I just don’t feel the need to strip down and show everybody what I got in order to get my point across. For me, that feels like we’re just giving the (heterosexual) male gaze what it wants.
The Militant Baker got together for a photo shoot (NSFW) with 70 women who dared to bare it all. About-Face got a group of positive body image advocates to stand on the sidewalk in their underwear outside a Victoria’s Secret to call for more body diversity in advertising. And, of course, there’s Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, showing “real women” in matching underwear.
I am not saying these campaigns are bad and should go away. I think these are bold campaigns that are playing an important role in the body image movement. However, we need to create a space where people can be proud of their bodies and not have to have their pictures taken in their birthday suits to do so.
I want people to focus on what I have to say and the good deeds I do instead of focusing on what I have going on under my clothes. My body is beautiful and valuable without the world taking a peek and rating me on a scale of 1-10.
Because, let’s be honest, we all size each other up. We haven’t completely solved that problem yet. That is one of my goals though, and I think it is safe to say it is also one of the goals of the body image movement. That is, to get beyond a place where we value each other based on our bodies, and instead focus on our character and how we treat one another.
I’m proud of my body the way it is, and I love what I can do with it. I’m a curvy woman with stretch marks from two pregnancies and probably some cellulite in places I can’t see. I’m not ashamed of it in any way.
I just don’t want to grant an all-access pass to every Tom, Dick, and Harry on the internet. I’m not a prude, I just enjoy my privacy. There’s only one person who gets to see all my goodies, and his name is husband.
If people want to put themselves out there in that way, more power to them. No judgment. Do you, boo. No one is forcing these women to get naked for the cause. I think all bodies are beautiful and worthy of being seen.
I just don’t want women to feel that the only way to prove it is to get naked in images easily accessed and abused on the web. Me baring it all to promote the idea that all bodies are beautiful may prove that point to other body image advocates and me, but trolls on the interwebs will probably just think “BOOBS”!
What do you think? Would you bare it all to prove you love your body, or are you looking for other ways to spread the body love message?
Gretchen Edwards-Bodmer is a curvy grrrl from Virginia with a Master’s degree in Humanities and Women’s Studies. You can find her musings about raising two boys in this crazy world at www.Grrrlwithboys.com and follow her on Twitter @GrrrlWithBoys.