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Conversations About Body Image: A Place at the Table for Me?

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9 responses to “Conversations About Body Image: A Place at the Table for Me?”

  1. Lisa Harney

    I am uncomfortable with most of the conversations about body image, from the shaving conversations on to other things, because of the exclusionary, and often seemingly careless way they happen.

    I don’t have a disability-specific example, but I remember seeing cis women use fat acceptance to “prove” that transitioning is busted and transitioning trans people should learn to accept ourselves as we are. But to me, accepting myself as trans is doing just that – accepting transition as a positive step. And I mean, I am into fat acceptance, and I have seen FA activists say the exact opposite – that being trans and transitioning is not problematic in the context of FA at all, and they even came to that understanding based on fat acceptance and the body shaming common to both.

  2. CL

    This is an interesting and important post. The “love your body” stuff seems to come up because feminists who promote positive body image are largely responding to industries and media that tell us we should hate our bodies… and that our hatred of our ugly selves should drive us to purchase skin creams, weight loss products, bleach for teeth, makeup, and so on. So the feminist idea of body image is defined in opposition to those messages. “No, I will not hate my body, I will LOVE IT JUST THE WAY IT IS. SO THERE.”

    I imagine body image discussions would be different in a world where we didn’t feel bombarded by an unattainable ideal, where we could think about our bodies without feeling humiliated or worshiped based on how we look. Then maybe the opposite of hating our bodies would be feeling neutral about them, instead of striving to see our bodies as perfect according to a different ideal — an ideal that is still an ideal, even if we’ve changed it from “thin and smooth and white” to “natural and strong.”

  3. Rebecca

    Brilliant!

  4. KJ

    I get why body image is seen as so important, but I don’t see why ‘good body image’ is now a synonym for ‘healthy self-esteem.’ If I like my body, it doesn’t mean I like myself. If I l dislike or feel neutral towards my body, it doesn’t mean I dislike myself. I am more than a body.

    Of course, I do, to a certain extent question what ‘healthy self-esteem’ looks like and why we think to important. Generally, self-esteem is used against women “You need to have better self esteem! Believe in yourself! Don’t talk down to yourself!” But the discourse on self-esteem relies on the idea that each person controls the way they feel about themselves and ignores the social reality that our self esteem is impacted, if not dictated, by the way society treats an individual over time.

    Also, it is curious to me that ‘healthy self esteem’ for girls is pretty much getting girls to believe in themselves as much as boys believe in themselves. Which is just another example of the way we pathologize women and girls.

    Oh, a lot my ideas about self-esteem were shaped by an article about it in the book Bias in Psychiatric Diagnosis. The article was called “Reclaiming the Meaning of “Self-Esteem”" and is worth a read.

  5. AWV

    It makes me really uncomfortable when people tell me to believe in myself and not apologize and stuff. I have anxiety problems, for one thing. But also I genuinely don’t have some of the senses that other people have where they have a clearer idea of what they’re expected to say or do. I also lose track of what’s going on easily. So because of that, I tend to apologize constantly, and sort of overfocus on how to do things correctly. And when people call attention to that and tell me to be more confident or not to worry about it or that I’m making them upset by apologizing so much, it just makes me feel really uncomfortable and self-conscious and like the person doesn’t accept me the way I am. I mean, they don’t know why I’m so nervous, so can’t they just assume that I have a good reason?

  6. Laughingrat

    I really like this post. I don’t feel like I quite understand it yet, because you’re talking about things that are very new to me, but it feels like you’ve really hit on something important and kinda revolutionary.

  7. meerkat

    “But the discourse on self-esteem relies on the idea that each person controls the way they feel about themselves and ignores the social reality that our self esteem is impacted, if not dictated, by the way society treats an individual over time. ”

    Well-put! That has always bothered me!

  8. Jack

    I often want to snarl at these people because the mantra I’ve encountered so often is “Your body is healthy, therefore it’s a good body, and you should be grateful.” Well excuse me, my body *isn’t* healthy. And frankly, it’s my damn body, who the hell are you (them) to tell me how I should feel about it?

    So I understand where they’re coming from, what they’re pushing back against, but I often want to point out that while I’m sure that works for *people exactly like them*… it’s about as much use as a cheese hat to someone like me.

  9. Amanda Davis

    This is a really interesting perspective that I never really considered…you’ve definitely made me think about what it really means to love your body.


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