Yesterday Tracy posted about the “beach body blues” and asked for us to share our favourite “beach body” memes and images but since you can’t share pictures in comments, here’s my fave.
Now I’m someone who isn’t so much bothered by the beach body messaging. Tracy addresses me and my kind in her post when she writes” If you’re able to ignore the cultural messaging without any consistent effort to undo the damage of a lifetime of normative pressure, I applaud you. For many it is not as easy. “
I don’t think it’s easy to ignore but I am over it. I have been for a very long time.
Why? Well, for one thing life is really, really short. Thinking about death and the very short time we have on this planet to enjoy the beach makes me care a lot less about what other people think. It’s a real upside of aging. If there is anything that I hate about aging, it’s not what I look like at the beach, it’s losing friends and family to death. Everything else pales in comparison to that loss.
Second, it’s not that I’m simply able to ignore the messaging. Rather, it’s that mostly it’s never felt like it was directed at me. I’ve felt enough like an outsider as a fat/larger person that “beach body” in the sense that advertising/normative femininity means it wasn’t accessible as an ideal. The smallest I’ve ever been is still “overweight.” See The unexpected advtanges of growing up chubby .
Third, on the positive side I’ve had lots of access to queer communities where my body is loved as it is. Queer community and coming out means you’re aware, often an early age, that society is wrong about lots of things. Once you question mainstream ideas about sexual attraction and relationships, the whole package is up for questioning. See Body positivity and queer community. I also love this post from a cheerful chubster.
I watch young, beautiful, thin women mincing behind towels at the Y and I watch the Cheerful Chubster, and I know which short of person I’d rather be.
I guess it also helps that I have lots of friends who are larger than me who I think are really attractive. It’s hard to both think that and think I’m too big to be on the beach.
So it’s not sheer force of will that keeps me from internalizing these norms. Rather it’s social exclusion, on the negative side, and alternative communities and norms, on the other. It’s (mostly) not my world.
I was going to write a thank you letter to the guy who yelled “fat bitch” out of his truck window at me. Thank you to my boyfriend’s older brother who said he didn’t want me sunbathing on the porch because I’d bring down the property values. Thank you to all the people who said mean things about my body and my size growing up. Why? Well, there is zero danger of me internalizing that message. And I think because I heard all that growing up I developed some good internal responses. I learned to ignore those voices because they were obviously mean and hateful .
Here’s one more “beach body” favourite!