The Soapbox: I’m Sick Of Being Told I “Must Accept” My Body

I do not like my nose. Although I no longer hate it with the same gusto I did at 15, I still do not accept it.

I do not like my thighs; they’re huge and riddled with stretch marks thanks to a growth spurt at 12, and my stomach refuses to be flat – but I guess I have Lombardi’s pizza to blame for that one. I wish my ass was perkier; my boobs are too big and too saggy, my lips should be less thin and pout on command, and my teeth are too small — straight, but small. My dentist refuses to give me veneers; we’ve been arguing about it for years.

In other words, I’m not very keen on my body, and I certainly don’t accept it. If one more person tells me I have to, I’m going to lose my shit and throw something really heavy and dangerous.

But don’t get me wrong; I’m all for body acceptance. I really am, and anyone who isn’t, I’m likely to call them an asshole. Do I sound confused? I’m not. A hypocrite? Maybe a little bit. But before you label me as such, let me explain.

As a woman who doesn’t fit the ideal of what’s considered conventionally beautiful, I embrace and support the body acceptance movement. It’s important that we encourage people, especially young women who are especially susceptible to society’s unrealistic standards of beauty more than most, to love and accept their bodies. To teach them that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  I think it’s absolutely imperative that we do everything we can to drown out the litany of negative messages about everything that’s wrong with them. I think we, as a society, should do away with negative messages about so-called “imperfections,” and instead teach that what isn’t “perfect,” is awesome, original, endearing, and above all, beautiful.

However, this piece isn’t about a movement; it’s not about what I want for you, for everyone else who struggles with body image, for society. This is about not being made to feel like I’m weak, bad or a negative role model, that I’ve failed at feminism, because I don’t accept my body. Self-esteem is complex and telling a person that they must accept the way they look, to demand that of them, is simplistic and condescending. It is my right to not accept my body and the way I think it fails at fulfilling my personal standard of beauty. I know how I would like to look, but I also know that I may never get there. I accept that I may never have the body I desire; I also accept that I may never accept my body the way it is.

I want you to love your body. I want you to have confidence in your skin, no matter your size; I want you to embrace what is you. I believe we all deserve to accept our bodies, but I’m also realistic and know that this may not possible for some. And while I want everyone to reach a level of peace when it comes to the way they look, and as much as I want it for myself, too, I would never tell anyone they must accept their body. Demands to “love the skin your in” can feel at times just as oppressive as the onslaught of reminders about all the ways that skin unloveable. Failing at “accepting” my body is just another thing to feel like shit about.

So, yeah, the next time I’m told I must accept my body, I will throw something really heavy . Granted, I will likely miss my target by several feet … but I accept that my aim is just as awful as my thighs.

[Photo of woman on scale via Shutterstock]