Ah, it is once again summertime in New York City. This of course means a lot of things: it means that a quick three minute walk to the laundromat is gonna leave you dripping with sweat, it means that fire hydrants all over the city are to be open for business, and it means, as the great Regina Spektor once said, “cleavage, cleavage, cleavage.” One thing is for certain: people all over NYC are showing off their beautiful and wonderful bodies. It is a time when one should be happy to show off, happy to finally not have to wear layers upon layers of wool and scarves and mittens. It is also a time that, unfortunately, forces some to show off more parts of their bodies than they might be completely comfortable with.
I have always been a body-positive person. I have never harbored ill feelings towards my body (except once in 2011, before my thyroid problem was diagnosed), and I have felt fine with my body the way it has always been. Something peculiar happened to me, though: once I moved back to NYC, I realized that my body unintentionally draws way too much attention. Something inside of me changed; I was no longer comfortable with the same body that I never really gave much thought to. The body that was so good to me when I used to play roller derby, the body that was always expert at fighting off any little traces of a cold, and the body that I didn’t realize was gonna someday be such a topic of worry and anxiety for me.
It is no question that being a woman in today’s society can be a real pain the ass. Between the catcalling and the insulting advertisements that try to guilt you into not having that cheeseburger you desperately crave, it seems that so much attention is placed on women’s bodies.
I began noticing things about my body that I wanted to change. Soon enough, there were more parts of me that I hated more than I loved. I began to compulsively diet and I went to the gym six days a week in order to drown out a loud voice inside my head that I wanted to smother with a pillow. It was a cause of so much stress for me that during the past few summers I refused to wear cute dresses or tank tops out of fear of the unwanted attention they would bring to my body. But this summer . . . this summer is different, and I am fully embracing every summer dress I own without giving a shit what anybody thinks — by the way I wear a dress size 8.
There is good news, news that helps me to remember that it’s okay to wear whatever the hell I want. We are steadily moving towards a more positive society that promotes healthy body image (lookin’ at you, Target), rather than tries to make women feel shame about their bodies. This, and the fact that we are finally acknowledging that other body types are beautiful. We still have a long way to go, of course, but I like to think of myself as an optimist.
So go ahead and flaunt your summer body, because it is perfect. There is nobody in their right mind that will argue that Ashley Graham isn’t one of the most beautiful humans on the planet, size 16 or not.