I'm Not Body Positive or Negative—I'm Just Me
I'm a size 2-4-6-8ish, of average height and weight, and my body's just...there
It's not news that people love judging, discussing, and dissecting women's bodies. It is news when a woman finds a way to be body positive. Stories about women learning to love their form are endlessly inspiring-unless you're of the mindset that famous figures are promoting obesity (she's too positive! She's too negative!)
But what if you don't fit either category? I myself am body...neutral.
My body isn't something I obsess over in a bad or good way. I didn't even register that other people cared, until they started commenting on their own body (via scenes like that one in Mean Girls, where female friends lament different body parts) or mine (via seventh-grade boys who called me 'looseleaf' for my paper-flat chest). When, at age 17, a friend wished aloud that she could eat whatever she wanted, I looked up from our lunch of chicken fingers-didn't she already do that? We were just kids. (Don't Let Haters Squash Your Self-Confidence.)
Of course, I'm insanely grateful that I wasn't taught to loathe my body from a young age, and that I don't now. I've seen enough friends and coworkers hide from carbs, or the scale, or the sight of themselves in the mirror; I've listened to their confessions about crash dieting or starving themselves or taking illegal pills or vomiting to keep the weight off.
With those friends, I've noticed a pattern: Mothers are typically the greatest predictor of one's own body image. My mother is neutral herself. She eats what she wants, when she wants, but if her pants feel tight she'll lighten up on buying snacks. If she realizes she's panting up the stairs, she'll sign up for six months of Zumba. She's just never seemed entirely tortured about it, and she passed that along to me. (Body image behaviors develop very young, according to studies.)
For those who didn't have moms as kind as mine, or for those who were tormented more in school, I think the body-positive movement is a reaction to that self-disgust, those harsh diets and thigh gaps and stores that only carry one size. I would never belittle the need for this movement, nor undercut its impact. I am thrilled that women are taking back their power, learning to love and appreciate their curves (or lack thereof). It just doesn't quite register for me-and I don't think that's a bad thing.
I have curves, because I'm a human being who's not one-dimensional. I think the undulation of my weirdly muscular calves is really beautiful, as are the delicate bones in my wrists. Sometimes I hate my soft stomach, but then I remember that women's pooches serve an evolutionary purpose-protecting the almighty uterus!-and then I love it. How cool! I'm a 4 or 6 or 8, depending on the store, and stand at a very average 5'6''. My BMI is fine. My bra size is the national average of 36C. Some days I feel thin (I ate a salad!) and sometimes I feel gross (did I really need to eat pizza and a bagel today?).
It's not enough for a movement, perhaps. It's a movement of me. And you know what, I feel pretty positively about it.