Story #2 in the Body Positive Story Collective. Thank you for sharing Marianna. Your story is so beautiful and inspiring, as are you. Let’s stop body shaming.
Why I don’t Hate my Body
by Marianna Dorn
The short answer: because it’s what I got, through thick and thin. Just to be clear, it’s been mostly thick. I am only saying that so you can get the whole picture, because I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with being big. Although everyone and everything might tell me otherwise—media, doctors, even perfect strangers. Sometimes friends will even unintentionally body shame me when they talk about how huge their own bodies are. They might say things like “oh, but you’re not that much bigger than me.” Bitch, please: you and I both know I’ve got 50+ pounds on you, and it’s fine.
I owe a lot of my positive self-image to my mom. As a biology teacher, she taught me early on that what we see when we look in the mirror is just a bunch of dead skin cells. We cover it with make-up, style our hair in the latest fashions, but all we’re doing is just making dead stuff more “attractive.” It’s a biologist’s way of saying “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Unlike many mothers, as I’ve learned recently, she never talked about how big her hips were, nor was she constantly dieting. She did make home cooked, well balanced meals for us, and encouraged us to play sports and be active. Most importantly, she’s never discussed my body size with me, even when I’ve lost weight. If I bring it up, she’ll just ask if I feel healthy, and reiterate that that’s what’s important.
For the past 3 and a half years I’ve lived in a country where women cover their bodies almost completely. It’s not mandatory by any means, but cultural preservation and modesty is hugely important here–for men and women both. I think about its implications on a regular basis, and still don’t know what’s best. Sometimes I think it must be so liberating to wear something that ideally makes women less of a sex object. However, in practice, wearing the abaya here does just that, by showing others that you are modest, and therefore, an ideal marriage partner (ie, fuckable). A woman, particularly outside of the city, who doesn’t cover would have less of a chance finding a suitor.
In the west, women (and men) do the same. By uncovering our bodies, we literally show potential partners what they could have. As a result, there is such a societal pressure for everyone to have the, often unattainable, and unhealthy, “perfect body,” because *gasp* we might not find a partner otherwise.
This is just absurd to me. Firstly, humans have overcome trials and burdens of all sorts, and we still can’t break away from our most basic need to attract one another. It’s so forefront that we are willing to take drastic measures to alter our appearance, even when we are in loving, supportive partnerships. Of course, businesses love this. Think about it: if everyone woke up tomorrow morning believing they were beautifully made, the world’s economy would completely crash. Secondly, even if this ultimate desire remains, why do we think of ourselves as so undesirable all the time? Think about all the men and women you know: big, small, ugly, beautiful. Are any of them incapable of being loved simply because of how they look? So why is it that when we look in the mirror at ourselves all we see is our imperfections, when literally everyone we know in our lives is getting it in (and I mean that in the most fully realized way).
I know it’s not always easy. I sometimes feel the need to prove to others that I am not a lazy binge eating slob. For example, if I run into someone at the supermarket I will sometimes point out that I am shopping for fresh veggies, maybe cheese, but never a whole cart full of cookies and chips, as I imagine they must think. Then I remind myself that what they think about my body size (if they think of my body size at all), literally has nothing to do with me or my body, and has more to do with their own insecurities.
Also, clothes shopping can, quite literally, be a pain in the ass as a large woman, since 90% of the usual shops have no clothes in my size. If they do, it’s in a special “plus size” section with clothes that are often, in my opinion, made to make me look bigger and older than I really am. Basically, the fashion industry makes us bigger women feel like if we’re going be fat, then we should wear potato sacks so everyone can see how terrible we must look and feel. Therefore, I only shop online at a few select stores that have clothes I know make me look and feel as beautiful as I really am.
It’s hard to feel good about your body all the time when everything you see and everything you hear seems to be about size, but when I look in the mirror I usually see a shiny, beautiful looking young woman staring back at me. I remember how gorgeous I really am, and I say aloud “Damn girl! You’re fine as hell.” I forget all those bad things I was thinking earlier, and I just go through my day knowing that I am a queen.
Momma Lynn & Marianna Dorn