February 27 – March 3 is Body Image Warrior Week. Throughout the course of this week, you’ll read posts from an inspiring group of women who fight hard against body image oppression through their own words and work.
- I am honored to introduce you to Caitlin Constantine of Fit and Feminist. I just met Caitlin of this Body Image Warrior Week project and I am already crazy about her (the tagline of her blog is: because it takes strong women to smash the patriarchy. What’s not to love?). Here is her wisdom:
Recently, I came across a blog post by a personal trainer in which she explored the one of my least favorite terms as applied to women’s bodies – the word “bulky.” Any weight-training woman is familiar with this term, as it is often the first thing other women will say as their reason for refusing to lift weights. The idea is that lifting weights will lead to the development of big muscles, and the development of big muscles means a woman will no longer be beautiful and will instead be manly, unattractive, scary and doomed to a sex-free, love-free life.
Consider the natural world, with all of its abundance of living things. Think about flowers. In my neighborhood in Florida, I can count the following: birds of paradise, hydrangea, plumeria, magnolia, jacaranda, orchids, Confederate jasmine, black-eyed Susans, coreopsis, spider lilies and dozens more whose names I don’t know.
Few of us would look at all of these flowers and say that, for instance, orchids are the only beautiful ones. Sure, we might have a preference, but most of us would not take our preferences to mean that all other flowers are ugly, and that we ought to rip rosebushes and tulip bulbs out of the ground so they can be replaced with even more orchids.
Yet this is what we do with our bodies – we say that all bodies that do not fit that single ideal are ugly, and that all bodies must fit that single ideal to be worthy of respect and care and affection. We say that if you cannot force yourself to fit that ideal, then you must hide yourself behind shapeless clothing and maybe even consider never leaving your house because you are too revolting to be seen.
The good news is that we can resist it. We can resist by refusing to hate our bodies for the way they look. We can resist by catching ourselves when we think harshly about other people’s appearances. We can resist by refusing to judge other people based on their bodies. We can resist by calling out those who make those kinds of moral judgments about other people. We can resist by refusing to support media outlets who uphold such narrow beauty standards.
Eager to learn more about who is participating in Body Image Warrior Week? Check out this list of participants.