Body Love and Social Media: A Story of Feeling the Sunlight

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By Taina Quiñones

“Here,” Rose says, tossing her royal blue bikini in my direction, “Try it on.” I hesitate before picking it up from where it lands on her bed and holding it up to my body. It will definitely fit. Due to our larger body sizes, Rose is one of the few friends I can clothes-swap with – something we both relish in whenever we are lucky enough to be in the same place.

This is my third summer visiting Rose in her hometown of Glencoe, Illinois. We are both sophomores in college at this point, and with permission from her parents, Rose and I will be roadtripping up to Wisconsin to spend a week in her family’s lake house.  She tells me we have to go swimming, and for the first time since I was a small child, I am genuinely excited to.

***

Growing up, I was always bigger than other kids. In school, we had desks that were attached to the seats, and my stomach always pressed uncomfortably against the edge when I sat. My cheeks have been chubby for as long as I can remember, earning me the family nickname of “cara papa”, or “potato face”. The notion is far more endearing when said in Spanish.

As a kid, I never noticed, or rather never cared, about my size difference. I was lucky enough to be raised by parents who encouraged me to love my body by never pointing to my weight as something I should be insecure about. They let me wear the clothes I wanted to wear, even when they weren’t particularly “flattering”, and never made me feel like there was something wrong with the way my body looked. I never had a reason not to like my body, until I entered high school in 2009.

From 2009 to 2013, I attended a private school in New York City. Though many stereotypes regarding New York City are certainly untrue, I would argue that the obsession with superficial appearance is absolutely real. Everyone cared about how they looked, and how they dressed. These were fairly new concepts to me, particularly considering I had just come out of a middle school where a school dress code was strictly enforced.  I didn’t know the weight that was placed upon a person’s wardrobe choices. I think my confidence would have gone unscathed if judgment based on appearance stopped at criticizing someone’s wardrobe. However, the sentiments soon became anti-fat (and therefore, anti-me).

In a 10th grade gym class, our gym teacher encouraged us to work out harder by telling us that we wouldn’t want our arms to be all flabby when we waved at people. Everyone laughed, as I stood uncomfortably, trying to hide my already “flabby” arms. From then on, I consistently wore hoodies and sweatpants to gym class, even in the middle of the summer, even when I thought I might faint from the heat. This feeling of needing to feel “covered” soon persisted outside of gym class; hoodies and long jeans were my go-to outfit, including during 95° F days.

In 11th grade, a number of students from my grade were going on a trip to Paradise Island or “P.I.” for spring break. To prepare for the trip, several girls began going on juice diets, which they affectionately called “P.I.-ets”. Every morning, they would keep their juice for the day at the corner of their desks. They would talk brag about how many days they had gone without eating solid food. They would compliment each other on their work based on how many ribs could be seen when they stretched their arms above their head. The more pronounced their collarbones, the more encouragement they gave.

The feelings that ran through me during this period of high school have never left me. Thinking back on this time still stings. Worthless. Insecure. I was constantly seeing myself through other people’s eyes and feeling their disapproval. I noticed exactly how much space I took up on trains. I tried to shrink into myself as much as possible. I never showed skin. I fainted on more than one occasion because of the sheer excess of clothing layers I wore.

Around this time, I created an account on Tumblr.com, a blogging platform that was becoming popular amongst my friends. At first, it was just a place to write down some silly thoughts, or post a funny picture. As I became more familiar with the website, I began “following” different blogs, which meant I would get updates from them on my Dashboard (or newsfeed). Following more blogs meant I was exposed to different kinds of posts, and I soon found myself repeatedly stumbling upon a blog called “Stop Hating Your Body”.

blog1The premise of the blog was simple; people submitted pictures of themselves and explained their journeys and struggles toward self-acceptance and love. As the FAQ on the blog states, “[This blog] is about promoting self-esteem; mental health…This blog is about loving your body wherever you are in life, healthy, not healthy, or working on it, you deserve to be body positive and never self-loathe.” This was my first time encountering such a message, and at the peak of my insecurity regarding my body, it was precisely the message I needed.

***

Rose and I first exchanged messages on Tumblr when we were juniors in high school. Soon, we swapped phone numbers and began Skyping. Rose was like me; she was heavier set than her friends too, and constantly felt the pressures to be smaller. When we would call each other, we could rant to each other about the looks we get from strangers on the street, the discomfort we would feel when a skinny friend would rant about how “fat” they felt. We could cry to each other about clothes shopping going terribly wrong and not feel like we were overreacting. We could talk about our worries about being attractive, our concerns with how “fuckable” we were. When we would talk about our fatness with other friends, smaller friends, we were often met with the statement “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful!” However, when we spoke to each other about our fatness, we understood and worked toward accepting the fact that we could be both.

Though the feelings were miserable, knowing that there was someone who understood my struggles as her own was a comfort I needed. Through my virtual relationship with Rose, I knew that support and real understanding would only ever be one text away.  I knew she would never accuse me of over thinking, and I was happy to be able to do the same for her.

friendsWe met in person for the first time in my hometown of New York City. There wasn’t an awkward moment when we met; it felt like we’d already been “real life” friends for years. Neither of us had any concerns with our appearance, and that level of comfort between us was something I still cherish with her in our friendship today. We were able to eat whatever we wanted in front of each other without feeling self-conscious about what the other was thinking. Having a friend who understood my thoughts and feelings – who really understood them – was the most liberating feeling in the world.

***

The support I felt through my relationship with Rose and indeed through blogs such as Stop Hating Your Body is not something felt by just me. In fact, there is a major dialogue happening right now revolving around the effect of social media and body positive spaces on platforms such as Tumblr. On sites such as Buzzfeed or Bustle, several articles have been posted listing body positive blogs. In the Bustle article “13 Body Positive Tumblr Blogs You Should Follow, Because Self Love Should Always Be On Your Dash” writer Erin McKelle Fischer (2015) gives brief descriptions of a range of blogs that focus on body positivity. She begins the article stating:

Body positivity is one of my biggest values and cultivators as a writer – it’s incredible how loving your body can transform your life! I’m also a really avid Tumblr blogger and am inspired by the incredible community of body image activists on Tumblr, who use the platform as their oyster…

Tumblr is known for having a large, active social justice community, and the body positive sector of this social media platform has been at the forefront of just that. Much of this has acted as a response to fitspiration blogs and even worse, “pro-ana” blogs that promote eating disorders.

Because so many of these blogs and sites were popping up on Tumblr, various counterculture bloggers decided to use the space to create a body positive community, too. Whenever I’m having a bad body image day or want to share my own body love messages with others, I go on Tumblr.

Here I find it important to elaborate upon the fact that many body positivity blogs began in response to blogs that supported unhealthy habits (including eating disorders) in order to achieve a skinny body.  I view my experience in high school as a microcosm of this very dynamic. I was surrounded by girls starving themselves for months, indeed encouraging each other to emaciate themselves. This is not unlike the communities on Tumblr that promoted the same things, and kept track of progress with constant before and after pictures.

That being said, the experience of being fat is not just defined by being surrounded by non-fat people; this experience is not just brought about through internal self-reflection or self-comparison. This extends beyond the fact that the girls in my school wanted to be thin; it was that they were working day in and day out to avoid a body that looked and worked like mine. The aforementioned blogs that promoted eating disorders did not just share photos of skinny bodies as aspiration, but also photos of fat bodies as examples of “what could happen” or “what not to do”.

In her article “Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Aesthetic Labor and Fat Talk as Emotional Labor at a Women’s Plus-Size Clothing Store”, Kjerstin Gruys explains that in America, there is an entire pre-existing mentality that actively berates a fat existence. She states:

Contemporary mainstream American society holds strong aesthetic preferences for slenderness, and contempt for larger bodies (Bordo 2004; Popnoe 2005; Stearns 1997). Fat individuals may be considered personally responsible for their weight, lazy, lacking in self-control, and incompetent (Kristen 2002; Larkin and Pines 1979; Puhl and Brownell 2003), and are subjected to frequent discrimination and stigma… (Gruys, 2012: 484)

Gruys goes on to explain that the size discrimination bleeds out into the work place, where “young women…who were 20 percent or more over their standard weight for height earned 12 percent less than women with a smaller body size” (2012: 484). Bigger women working in “face-to-face sales environments” are also more frequently put into job positions where they are not visible (ibid).

From this we can see that there is not just an obsession with being slender and slim, there is an active force working against bigger bodies. There are not just voices yelling, “Be skinny!”, but a chorus of voices also yelling “Don’t you dare be fat.” Once you become familiar with those voices, you begin hearing them everywhere, and you see the blatant anti-fatness in everything. You know that people are looking at you weird in that clothing store (“Why is she even in here? Even the biggest size wouldn’t fit.”) At restaurants, you pick a salad instead of a burger because you don’t want the waitress to give you a judgmental look. You begin noticing that every fat person on TV or in movies is a joke – literally. They are either the butt of their friend’s teasing, or the Funny Fat Girl themselves. They are never the character that someone is crushing on; they are barely ever allowed to demonstrate sexuality at all (because who wants to think about fat people having sex, right?), but when they do it is often seen as laughable.

I, for one, can tell you that being fat in a society that hates fat people is anything but funny. After a while, those voices begin to drown you, and for a moment too long you consider not eating for a day (or two…or three…). You work yourself into a frenzy about how others are looking at you, and you feel like you must constantly apologize for any space you take up. Your body, in its vast size, is enough to make people feel like their sudden medical expertise and knowledge of fatness is welcomed. Anyone – and I mean anyone – can feel comfortable telling you that your body is wrong because it is fat. They will chastise you about your health, but say nothing to the skinny people eating junk food or binge drinking for consecutive days. Because in the end, your actual health or lack thereof is irrelevant. They don’t really care about you becoming healthy, they care about you not being fat.

Without the body positivity community on Tumblr, and all of the friends that came with it, I would still be drowning in those voices. The community allowed me to find my own voice, and mute all the others. It gave me a vocabulary to refer to my experiences (for example, those claiming to be worried about my health just by a sheer glance at my body became “Concern Trolls” – their fatphobia hidden under a guise of caring). I began taking more full body photos of myself, and when posted into these communities, I was met with a new crowd of voices. These, the voices of my fellow fat sisters on Tumblr, asking me where I got my clothes, praising me for my confidence, telling me how fierce I looked. From their stories, I learned and gained just as much. We were all fighting to love ourselves.

Body positivity became my defense.

***

The work done by body positive spaces does not stop at community building for plus size women.  As discussed by Tish Weinstock (2015) in I-D Vice article “How Social Media is Making Us All Body Positive”, the affects of the body positivity movement has a wide reach. In her article, Weinstock discusses different internet protests against sizeist [discrimination based on size] mentalities. When Instagram blocked the hashtag “#curvy”, waves of people expressed anger, citing the fact that “#thin” was not a blocked tag. An Australian model named Stefania Ferrario incited a “#droptheplus” campaign, encouraging people to stop categorizing models into “plus sized” or not.

A particularly disturbing fight was that against the mannequins used by clothing store Topshop. In 2015 Topshop, got rid of super skinny mannequins after waves of backlash against their unrealistic shape (Weinstock, 2015). Examples of the mannequins can be seen below:

Weinstock writes:

Indeed, all it takes is one person to challenge the dominant narrative surrounding the female body, before the whole of the digital world joins in. What’s more, big consumer brands are finally starting to listen.

…Topshop released a statement promising to get rid of its skinny minnie mannequins. ‘We have taken yours and other customers’ opinions and feedback on board,’ they posted, for the whole world to see, ‘going forward we are not placing any further orders on this style of mannequin.’ Reinstatin #curvy, Instagram also admitted defeat…Meanwhile, online campaigns like #droptheplus…continue to challenge the way fashion engages with the female form, paving the way for a body positive future.

There are real world effects from these body positive platforms, and their work should not be understated or neglected. Body positive spaces not only create a safer place for bigger women to exist, but it introduces the notion that beauty can be a range of different things. There is not one singular definition of beauty, and someone can still be beautiful while existing outside of societal norms. What needs to change is our perception of those norms, not the people who do not fit into them.

With the existence of body positive blogs, this is exactly what is happening. Bigger women are making their self-love visible, which breaks down the idea that one must be skinny in order to be happy. As I mentioned before, in so much of our social media, fat people are the butt of the joke, food obsessed, or otherwise working towards becoming skinny. A serious appreciation of a fat body is incredibly hard to come across in our television programs or movies. This only feeds into the societal idea that fatness and happiness are inherently mutually exclusive. The visibility of happy fat people, fat people who do not spend time hating themselves or trying to constantly change themselves, challenges the idea that happiness and beauty is confined to a specific body type. This welcomes a whole new dialogue insisting on the expansion of what “beauty” means.

This idea is also expanded upon through artwork on Tumblr. A huge step is just normalizing a fat person’s image. The art is further described in Alysse Dalessandro’s (2015) Bustle article “13 Times Body Positive Artwork Shut Up All the Haters and Inspired Us Along the Way”. Dalessandro writes:

Traditionally, art has always mirrored a societal standard of beauty, which is why plus-size women see themselves reflected more in the paintings of the past than they might today. But a handful of talented artists and illustrators are changing that trend by creating empowering body positive artwork…Whether strictly though imagery or a mix of words and images, the message portrayed by body positive artists is an important one: All bodies, including fat bodies, are not just acceptable, but also beautiful.

With mainstream media feeding us the idea that there is only one type of beautiful, body positive artists show that fat women and men can be sexy, smart, sad, or whatever they want to be. The message that rings so true with body positive artwork is not just one of empowerment – but also of agency over one’s choices.

The subjects in this artwork are relatable. They are the type of subjects that know what it’s like to be fat shamed by strangers on the Internet. And this art helps to humanize their experiences. As someone who is called an “obese whale” at least once a week, looking at these 13 empowering messages gives me faith that one day my existence won’t make people so uncomfortable.

An example of such artwork is shown below. It reads: “I am here. I am visible. Fat, femme, clumsy, slut fairy, lipstick, tit, stiletto, Princess.”

Art

Art credit: Tara O’Brien

***

Over the course of my research for this paper, I sat down and spoke with five of my friends who I either know from the Tumblr community, or in real life but participate in Tumblr communities.  These interviews were some of the most eye-opening parts of my research. I of course knew of Tumblr’s impact on my journey towards self-love, and I knew of others based on the stories I read on Tumblr, but talking directly to people made me realize just how powerful, irreplaceable, and, most importantly I feel, still flawed these communities are.

First, I spoke with Rose, my Tumblr friend, turned real life friend, turned general best friend of almost 7 years. In high school, Rose experienced her fatness in a way that was not unlike my own; she was The Token Fat Friend in her hometown as well. We both struggled with going to a school where we were obviously the biggest student – a dynamic that was also reflected in our respective friend groups. As I stated earlier on, Rose is one of the few friends I have had (in my entire life) that I have been able to clothes-swap with. The first time I went to her house, we unpacked my suitcase, opened up her closet, and played dress up for hours. We could throw a garment at the other and say “Try this on!”, knowing that the other wouldn’t feel the shame of holding it up to their bodies and realizing that it was half the size it needed to be. This, an experience that so many of our smaller friends could have throughout their whole lives, was just becoming accessible to us in the later years of high school, after meeting on the internet first.

Hearing about this experience from Rose’s point of view allowed me to take something else away from it entirely. As we were talking, Rose began telling the story:

One of my closest online friends and I became part of the body positive community at around the same time and discovering it with her was really formative for me because I was able to have someone who knew what to say or what to show me to help me feel better about my own body as well as someone to talk to who understood what I was talking about when we discussed the difficulties of being fat in this society. Also, in particular, at some point we realized that we could fit into the same size clothes, especially dresses, and therefore share. I had never had that experience with a friend before and I was thrilled to be able to try on things that belonged to her and have them fit. Even if something of hers was too small in certain places it didn’t make me feel bad about myself because I knew that she understood the experience of trying on clothes too small. Seeing the same garment fit the two of us so differently also helped me understand how clothes not fitting or fitting strangely doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with the body inside of the clothes. Clothes are just made however they’re made and certain things fit and certain things don’t, but a concrete example of a friend next to me wearing my clothes made me understand that fully. It also brought us so much closer as friends and that was an absolutely wonderful feeling.

From this I took away the fact that the experience of being fat can certainly be unifying without any particular experience being universal. There are different kinds of fatness (a topic I will return to when discussing the flaws with the community), but a comradery can still be found. Indeed, my thighs are bigger than Rose’s, Rose’s stomach is bigger than mine. Though the clothes we swapped did fit us both, they fit us differently. However, because we’d both had prior experiences juggling shame and clothes in a dressing room, the pressure that would otherwise exist to make a garment look good with our bodies simply was not there. For the first time, we could try on clothes that weren’t our own purely for fun.

A fat person’s relationship with clothing can certainly be jarring (particularly when the only example of what the clothes would look like when worn are on smaller sized mannequins or models), but because of our shared experience and because of our familiarity with the notion of body positivity on Tumblr, neither of us felt ashamed of the ways the clothes fell. As Rose mentioned, whether or not the clothes fit perfectly or strangely bears no reflection on the body that wears them.

The next person I interviewed was Louisa, a plus size friend that I met at a queer support group in New York City while I was still in high school. I have respected Louisa for a long while, as she has a very pronounced internet presence and often posts statuses on Facebook that create space for conversations regarding body size, queerness, and intersectional feminism.  In her interview, Louisa discussed the communities that came with three different sections of her identity – queerness, fatness, and disability. One question that I asked to all of the people I interviewed was about whether or not the communities and conversations held on platforms such as Tumblr can exist outside of the internet realm. To this, Louisa responded:

Um. The lesbian ones, definitely. I can find non-virtual lesbian conversations in many different places (though I have to know where to go…). The disabled ones…that gets tougher. I mean, when it does happen, it usually happens in one-on-one conversations when I find out someone else has chronic pain, and then I’m like, “Hey! Me, too!” For example, two women in my current cohort in grad school get migraines like I do. When we discovered this, we were all really thrilled, not because we’re so excited to have migraines, but because we’re so excited to know other people who can relate and empathize with our pain and the feelings that arise because of that pain. So that’s that.

The fat one, doesn’t happen. I wish it did, I really do, but it doesn’t. It’s so frustrating that I feel like I’m invading someone else’s space or stepping on toes or hurting someone else’s feelings when I say things that are in defense of fat bodies (like mine), and I can’t rely on people to support me or stand up for me in that. Being fat is still seen as so unacceptable, so wrong, that we think it’s okay to hate fat people, we think fat people should hate themselves, and to stand up against that feels really lonely and really scary sometimes and I wish I could rely on someone who feels what I feel because of similar experiences to back me up when I say things in defense of my body and bodies like mine.

According to Louisa, these conversations cannot happen outside of the online platforms – and, in truth, I would be inclined to agree. While she has been able to find spaces to discuss her queer and disabled identifiers, there is little room to discuss fatness as the dominant (negative) narrative around fatness is still widely accepted.  This also is not a matter of Oppression Olympics; I am not trying to say that the fat community has it worse than the queer or disabled communities (particularly in situations like Louisa’s where the three overlap). I am saying that the distaste for fatness in America, and all of the stereotypes that go with it, do not offer a space for these conversations to be held in person or on a whim. It is not something that is just talked about. The social climate surrounding fatness necessitates a different platform for discussion.

When I asked this question to Rose, she gave a slightly different response, instead focusing on the sensitive nature of the topic. She said:

I think the dialogues held in online body positivity communities necessitate an online forum because of the delicate nature of the subject matter. The shame and self-hatred that many people feel about their bodies makes it very difficult to discuss bodies in an in-person setting. Physical discomfort is minimized when the discussion is taking place online and people are more able to be open, honest, and vulnerable. These conversations can also perhaps take place in purposefully created safe spaces and among people who are all open to the concept. Someone’s relationship to their body and to the bodies of others is not to be taken lightly.

The hatred of one’s body is a very intimate feeling. Because of this, the distance that is offered through a digital community is vital to getting experience out in the open. We are dealing with people’s self images, and as Rose says, it is not something to be taken lightly. To a certain degree, everyone involved in the discussion needs to be on the same page, or at least open to a different mindset. As I mentioned earlier on in this paper, a common response from friends to a fat person verbally expressing any opinion on their fat body is, “You’re not fat, you’re beautiful.” Instead of being just a body descriptor not unlike tall or short, skinny and fat have been assigned certain degrees of morality – skinny is good and fat is bad. And so, well-intentioned friends will tell a fat person that they are not fat, or not “bad”, which just results in general discomfort. However, when this is discussed amongst peers on the same page, fat does not take on the double meaning of bad. Fat is just a word, or even further, a reclaimed word that has become a source of pride (Gruys).

My third interview was with Kim, a plus size Tumblr friend. My interview with Kim was crucial in realizing many of the flaws within the Tumblr body positivity community. As we discussed her role in the community, Kim took to noting the different sections of it. She said, “I am a size 32, okay? That’s big. Really big. And sometimes the really big girls are left out of the communities and left out of clothing lines because they border on being too much.” It is weird thinking that within a marginalized community one can have privilege, but if talking to Kim showed me anything, it was this fact. I have privilege within the fat community, because I am on the smaller side of the fat scale and my weight is proportioned in such a way that I have somewhat of an hourglass figure. Kim said, “All of my weight is in my stomach, arms, chest, and face. I have no ass smaller legs. How many people with that body shape do you see in even the plus size magazines?”

The lack of varied body representation within the body positivity community doesn’t stop here either. In fact, I find it to be one of the most glaring flaws within the Tumblr body positivity community. There is little talk of the fact that the poster child for plus size body positivity is still a cis-gendered, white, hour-glassly proportionate woman (who is extremely dressed up with make up on). Even in these communities, there exists a divide between what belongs and what doesn’t. I find that looking at the exclusivity of white feminism and the need for intersectionality, as explained by Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (1992) in her article “The Metalanguage of Race” is helpful when looking at certain exclusivities within the body positivity community. Higginbotham states, “World feminists who first called attention to the glaring fallacies in essentialist analysis and to claims of a homogeneous ‘womanhood,’ ‘woman’s culture,’ and ‘patriarchal oppression of women.’ Beyond this recognition, however, white feminist scholars pay hardly more than lip service to race as they continue to analyze their own experience in ever more sophisticated forms” (1992: 251).

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Credit: “Redefining Body Image”

If we for a moment replaced “woman” with “fat” or “fatness”, we can see the way that the community works to exclude. With the existence of this community comes a homogenized image of fatness that only a portion of those who identify as fat can relate to. What of fat black women? Fat Latina women? Fat disabled women? Fat amputees? Fat people in wheelchairs? Fat women who carry their weight in their stomachs instead of their hips? How about fat men?

 

As I explored more into the communities on Tumblr, it made me hopeful to see that there are branches of the “main” movement, which explore these different issues. A prime example is the Tumblr blog “Glorious Fat POC” or GFPOC (POC meaning people of color). In the blog’s description, the creators write:

GFPOC is first and foremost about fat positivity and representation. We exist to uplift, celebrate, and represent all of our glorious fat people of color.  We are here to give space and voice to those most often sidelined in the mainstream fat acceptance movement. We do not believe that fat fashion and the FA movement itself should be limited by Eurocentrism, hourglass figures (or other “acceptable fat” body types), or hyper-femininity. Fashion is about self-expression and ALL fat people of color deserve to be seen! GFPOC is a safe space for all fat people of color regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or any other marginalized identity.

Blogs such as GFPOC directly address the shortcomings of the mainstream fat acceptance movement. In doing so, they create more and more opportunity for similar spaces to be created in order to further give voice to marginalized groups. Though the body positivity movement is far from perfect, it has begun paving the way for these conversations to be had and for these voices to be heard. With its social media platform, a dialogue can easily be had (especially in the case of critiquing the dominant movement). More importantly, solidarity can be found anywhere. Though it is tiring and emotionally exhausting trying to navigate these spaces in bodies such as ours, it makes all the difference in the world when you know you are not going through it alone.

***

I am standing in Rose’s bathroom and shimmying my legs into the bottom half of the bikini. I pull them up over my thighs, until they rest on my hips. The top half is a halter top, so I bend my arms to tie the straps around the back of my neck. There is no body length mirror in the bathroom, and I don’t feel a need to find one elsewhere.

I wrap a towel around myself and meet Rose in the living room of her house in Wisconsin. She’s standing in the middle of the room in a bikini of her own, and lets out an audible “squee” when she sees me. “HOT” she says, and nudges me out of the door towards the lake.

We walk to the dock behind her house, and I notice her next-door neighbors enjoying a barbecue in their backyard. For a moment, there is a catch in my throat. Rose catches my eye and gives me an encouraging smile. I drop the towel, and for the first time in public that I can remember, my stomach feels the warmth of direct sunlight.  My thighs feel the warmth of direct sunlight. I do not worry about how my thighs jiggle as I run down the dock and jump into the water. I’m not concerned with how I look and I don’t care who is looking.

Soon Rose is in the water with me, and we both feel how important this moment is. We both know that we’ve gotten to a place that we didn’t think we would be able to get to; a place of feeling the sunlight. We hug, and exist in the moment for as long as we can.

swim

References

Dalessandro, Alysse (2015). “13 Times Body Positive Artwork Shut Up All the Haters and Inspired Us Along the Way.” Bustle. 21 April 2015.

Fischer, Erin McKelle (2015). “13 Body Positive Tumblr Blogs You Should Follow, Because Self Love Should Always Be On Your Dash.”Bustle. 27 April 2015.

Gruys, Kjerstin (2012). “Does This Make Me Look Fat? Aesthetic Labor and Fat Talk as Emotional Labor in a Women’s Plus-Size Clothing Store.” Social Problems, 59(4): 481-500.

Higginbotham, Evelyn Brooks (1992). “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 17(2): 251-274.

Weinstock, Tish (2015). “How Social Media Is Making Us All Body Positive.” I-D Vice. 12 August 2015.

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