Hana Shafi Loving Your Body: The Eternal Struggle

During the intermission of a burlesque show I went to, the host announced that any amateur without any burlesque experience at all could make a submission to try and be a part of the next show. My friend excitedly turned to me saying that her and I should totally try it out. Just her suggesting it was enough to make my mouth dry. My ultra-confident vixen alter-ego would’ve said, “fuck yeah, let me go grab my thigh-highs!” But my ultra-confident vixen alter-ego is never there when I need her. Instead, I sat there thinking: how does one get the guts to be so comfortable with their body that they can strip in front of a huge audience?

The show had a huge variety of body types, but even so, I couldn’t imagine ever trying something like that myself. Fuck, I don’t even have it in me to play strip poker with a big group of people. Talking about it with another friend, we started to discuss the importance of body-positivity and were hit with an awful realization that a term like “body-positivity” shouldn’t even have to exist. It should be the standard, something obvious to us, but instead, being comfortable with your body has become this fantastical skill one can only dream of achieving. The standard is hating yourself. The exception is loving yourself. 

Who’s to blame? Well, a lot of things. Popular media mainly and how one type of unattainable body image is rammed down our throats. Images in magazines are about 90 per cent thin, tall, cis-gendered, able-bodied white women. And on top of that, there are tons of thin, tall, cis-gendered, able-bodied white women who don’t even look like the ones in the magazine! It’s depressing to think that even though the greater majority of people look nothing like photoshopped supermodels, this is the image we are given on a daily basis. Perhaps even an hourly basis thanks to billboards, computer ads, and TV-screens every couple blocks. 

Of course the standard would be hating yourself when most women do not see anyone who actually resembles them in some way portrayed as the pinnacle of beauty. It’s not just about thin vs. fat, though that’s a huge part of it. For example, I walked past a poster in a mall advertising some skin cream and it showed the before picture and the after picture and I’d consider myself lucky to have the flawless skin of the before picture! The after picture literally looked like blemish-free porcelain, like a plastic mannequin. I thought to myself, there’s no way any human being naturally looks like that.

It’s not enough just to be thin or just to be curvy, we are pressured to have the “right” amount of each, certain hair, certain skin, certain bone-structures. Thinking about it is enough to make a girl never want to look in the mirror again. So to all of you people who are confident with your body, please do your best to spread that body-positivity to every person you meet, because it seems like loving yourself is in short supply. 

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