On Beauty & Body Positivity
By Adwoa Asiedu
This is the post that I started to write over a year ago and continuously lost my nerve. Today I read about Auntie Oprah’s epic faux pas and I thought, “the time is now.” In Oprah’s O Magazine, there was a fashion segment about crop tops. The line was “If (and only if) you have a flat stomach, feel free to wear a crop top.” This foolishment finally gave me the courage to share this post. Today we’re going to be talking about positive body image. It’s something that I’m passionate about, and something that’s very close to my heart.
It’s about to get REAL in here so I’ll give you a chance to settle in and get comfortable. *sips tea* And we’re back. Like an alarming number of young girls, I grew up thinking that I was ugly. There, I said it. I was a shy and anxious kid, always hiding behind a book so people wouldn’t look at me. As a teenager I felt like if I wasn’t going to be attractive, then I should at least be funny. I used humour as a defense mechanism, constantly trying to please others because I was worried that I just wasn’t good enough.
I hid my body in clothes so shapeless that even Miranda circa Sex and the City Season 1 would be like, “NO BISH.” At one point I was wearing baggy dad jeans from the supermarket, with my brother’s hand-me-down t-shirts #FixItJesus. I felt like my body was offensive to others. And then one day I met someone who changed my life. She was an ultra- glamorous girl I met at university, who noticed me trying to blend into the background, and slowly brought me out of my shell. One day I tagged along while she went shopping, prepared to sit outside the dressing room while she tried things on. But she hung up an armful of clothes and pushed me into the cubicle. I tried to protest but she gave me a sassy little dress to try on.
When I walked out to show her, nothing could have prepared me for her reaction. She was screaming, “yaaaaassss” and told me I looked beautiful. I said that people would stare, that they would mock for me pouring my round body into such a form-fitting dress. She just laughed. “If they’re going to stare, why not really give them something to look at?” Why the eff not indeed? In the face of her matter-of-fact certainty, I actually bought the dress.
It was like somebody had flicked a switch, and in the light everything looked different. It was a whole new way of thinking. Was my body soft and fleshy? Yes. Did that mean I had to be ashamed of it? NO. The seed had been planted.
A few years later, I stumbled across an Instagram hashtag called #HonorMyCurves and I was hooked. Thousands of pictures featuring beautiful women, of all shapes and sizes. What they all had in common was confidence. These women were wearing all the latest fashions. Hotpants, bikinis, body con dresses. The next thing I noticed was the positivity of the comments—everyone was so supportive! And it only got better from there—I soon realised that there was a whole community of women celebrating each other through the #bodyacceptance, #goldenconfidence, and #EffYourBeautyStandards movements.
Now, we all know that some people are sour and miserable and cruel, so there is always that one knob-jockey who tries to slide into the comments with, “you’re all disgusting/you should lose weight/you’re putting your health at risk/you will die” Let this be a quick reminder to the haters that YOU CANNOT MAKE JUDGMENTS ON PEOPLE’S HEALTH BY LOOKING AT THEIR BODIES. Yes, there are some risk factors associated with being overweight, but there are also many slim people who are at risk of chronic diseases. May I invite you to have a tall glass of shut the hell up? It is nobody’s responsibility to police another person’s body. Stay in your lane.
I love my body. I don’t want it to look any different. The reason I try to exercise and eat clean is because it makes me feel strong and amazing. I need that strength to kick body-shamers in the face.
On vacation in the Dominican Republic recently, I was trotting around in bikinis and hot pants. Fresh out of f*cks to give, I was serving a disrespectful amount of backside and largesse of thigh. And guess what? I felt amazing. This from the girl who used to go to the pool in baggy shorts and an oversized t-shirt!
None of this would have been possible a few years ago.
I love you guys and I want nice things for you, so I’m adding a list of my favourite body-positive Instagrammers. Trust me—you need these women in your life.
- @HonorCurves: We love her because she is a ray of sunshine and positivity, a true inspiration.
- @GabiFresh: We love her because she is an incredible fashionista who changed the game when she coined the term “fatkini” and showed plus size women everywhere that swimwear belongs to us, too.
- @essiegolden: We love her because she is gorgeous and so supportive of her followers.
- @NadiaAlboulhosn: We love her because she is fun, FIERCE, and wonderful, and her style game is ice-cold.
I once read something where a woman said, “I want to wear a figure-hugging dress, but first I need a figure worth hugging.” Honey, I’m here to tell you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your body is worth all the love and hugs in the world. Because God gave it to you.
And He never makes mistakes.
P.S. Eat it, Oprah.