If you’ve been anywhere near a mum blogger’s Instagram over the past few weeks you will have noticed a trend. Not the yellow dress from M&S, not flamingos, not even empowering slogan tees. No the trend that is filling all of our timelines is one that will hopefully be a bit more resilient than some fad – body positivity.
With Nat from Style Me Sunday fronting the #WarriorWomanProject and encouraging a whole host of other inspirational (and damn fine) mamas to strip off in the name of bopo my feed has been an endless stream of honesty, bravery, and real bodies in all their glory. It’s been fucking amazing.
But as the message has spread, and more and more women have decided they want to also feel empowered, be empowered, and empowered others some of the inclusivity and the idea of the ‘real body’ has been diluted someone into a form that doesn’t seem to match the original message at all.
I’ve seen posts that say ‘real women have curves’ or ‘real women have stretch marks’ or ‘this is a real mum body, wobbles and stretch marks and slightly overweight’ or ‘all bodies are amazing and powerful and real (unless you’re a Kardashian)’ and it’s really starting to bug me.
Lets go down the list and pick out some problems here shall we?
- ‘Real women have curves.’ So are we saying that women who are naturally slim aren’t real? Women who have small breasts and small hips aren’t women? There’s the meme that I see go round Facebook from time to time, with a slim model (not even close to the clearly poorly frames we’ve seen too often on the catwalk) and Marilyn Monroe alongside the words ‘when did this become more attractive than this?’. I could go into a long discussion of exactly when and how the media forced us to that point but now isn’t the time. We have to stop using ‘real’ women to meal one specific type, or we’re no better than the lads mags and the ladies mags and the casting agents at Vogue. A real woman is any damn woman who says she’s a woman. Hip measurements needn’t come in to it.
- ‘Real women have stretch marks.’ Yeah, they do. But real women also don’t. Some people can’t make it through a deep dish pizza without growing a few extra stripes and others can carry twins without so much as a blemish. You don’t get to belittle a woman because when she carried her babies she didn’t scar. See above…
- ‘This is a real mum body, wobbles and stretch marks and slightly overweight.’ Again, women’s bodies come in all shapes and sizes, that’s what makes us so damn remarkable. The idea that you lose some kind of mum points if your stomach doesn’t stay wobbling long after you sit down baffles me. There’s a huge push against the ‘perfect mum’ at the moment, you’re not welcome in mummy circles if your house is tidy, you cook from scratch, or you have a body to rival Rosie Huntington-Whitley. This shaming reminds me of what your mum always used to say about the school bullies – they’re just jealous. Some women put a serious effort into their bodies; they work out, they eat well, they don’t drink 8 bottles of merlot a week. Good for them! Some women struggle to make the time, or can’t afford gym memberships and Nutribullets, some women (hi) just prefer donner kebabs to kale crisps. Good for them too!
- ‘All bodies are amazing and powerful and real (unless you’re a Kardashian).’ Ah yes, this one. The idea that the Kardashians are the enemy of feminism and should serve as a warning to our children of what happens if we don’t eat our crusts and jump on the new sofa. I assume this one is based on plastic surgery, something which goes against everything the body positivity movement stands for, right? Not to me. The whole point in movements like this is to show every woman she can be who she wants to be, wear what she wants to wear, and post as many damn naked selfies as she wants to. For some women that involves having surgery to (in their mind) improve parts of their body. I will be getting a boob reduction and lift once I’m done having and feeding babies. I know people who have botox, and have had liposuction. They’re all still badass women who are able to feel a little more comfortable in their skin.
I feel a bit like Tina Fey in Mean Girls, but we do have to stop being mean to each other – otherwise why will anybody else stop being mean to us?
Accepting all body types should mean just that, all body types. Yes, there is a certain body that already has a lot more representation and doesn’t need as much new support as others. Yes, there are still many parts of the ‘mum-bod’ that we’re made to feel ashamed of. Yes, there is still a scary amount of pressure on women that I hope beyond anything is long dead by the time my daughter reaches adolescence. But that doesn’t mean that we should push the hate placed on anything other than perfect on to the ‘perfect’.
Two wrongs don’t make a right.
Every body is incredible and powerful and has the ability to lead us through the most wonderful adventures. The number in your jeans or on the scales doesn’t change that. Lets support each other, embrace bodies like ours and nothing like ours, be real advocates for body positivity. God knows we all have our demons, and that woman you look at and see perfection is just as likely as you to look in the mirror and see nothing but flaws. It’s not my place, your place, or anybody else’s place to silence her body and her voice.
And look after your body – it’s the only one you get. Wear suncream, drink water, take the stairs, go for that run you’ve been putting off. No matter where it wobbles or which bits won’t fit into your skinny jeans anymore your body deserves the best and most of all it deserves your love.